Composite sketch of a modern hiring manager in 2016

Composite sketch of a modern hiring manager in 2016

What does a modern hiring manager look like? The Agorize team was thinking about this as the Decathlon challenge got underway. The answer is not as obvious as you might think. Everyone has their own idea and their opinions differ significantly. For some, it means a super-connected person who is plugged into social networks and uses big-data-inspired algorithms on a daily basis. For others, it means someone who can read between the lines and get a feel for the right candidate. In other words, the eternal struggle between old school and new school.

This made us want to dive a little deeper into the issue and sum up the qualities that HR reps need in today’s (and tomorrow’s) world.

Passive recruiting gives way to active recruiting

The first defining feature: in 2016, hiring managers must be proactive. Gone are the days when it was enough to write a catchy advert, publish it on every possible recruiting platform and wait for the overly polished resumes and sycophantic cover letters to roll in. This process did nothing for hiring managers or for applicants. Unfortunately, old habits die hard.

But companies that are worried about their bottom lines cannot afford to sit around twiddling their thumbs if they want to stay ahead of their competitors. Competition is fierce in every sector and successful recruitment can significantly boost company growth. Today’s HR reps live by this maxim: in the past, we passively recruited active candidates; today, we have to actively recruit passive candidates. This means seeking out promising candidates wherever they might be.

And where are they exactly? On social networks. Thus, active recruiting in 2016 means using social media. As it stands today, a study conducted by RegionsJob found that only 53% of hiring managers in France had used these networks. For the most part, the social networks they used were professional, such as Viadeo (94%) and LinkedIn (77%). In fact, only 44% of the HR professionals interviewed said that they used Facebook and 31% said they used Twitter. One last figure: only 10% of candidates are recruited through social media.

What conclusion can we draw from all this? There is plenty of room for improvement, especially when it comes to non-professional social networks. The first HR departments that get in on the action will stand to gain the most. In fact, adopting this new method will make them look like pioneers, which will in turn enhance their employer brand.

Besides social media, the other tool hiring managers could (and should) be using is, of course, big data.

Little time and big data

According to estimates from IBM, we create around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. To put that in perspective, a one-page Word document is around 50 kilobytes, a song is around 4 megabytes and a photo is 6 megabytes, more or less. All that is to say that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data correspond to 50 million Word pages, 625,000 songs or 416,000 photos. Every day.

This dizzying amount of data – in the form of social media posts, GPS signals or records of online purchases – contains enough personal information about all of us to make the most overzealous sleuths at the NSA drool.

A computer server room

In the end, it’s important to have an algorithm at your fingertips that can analyse and make use of this data. The challenge of big data lies in processing and sifting through this enormous pile of data with the end goal of speeding up and facilitating decision-making. It’s easy to envision the various ways that HR departments could use this to their advantage.

In fact, a study conducted by psychology professors at the University of Minnesota found that using these algorithms produced better results than relying on instinct. After all, it’s pretty hard to sweet talk a server, no matter how charming you are. Algorithms remain objective and don’t get distracted by compliments or peripheral information that isn’t relevant to the recruiting process. When you get to the end of the process, though, instinct still has a role to play.

Big data helps refine and accelerate the phase that involves making a shortlist of candidates. All you need to do is collect data on the most productive employees at your company and look for applicants with similar profiles. You need much more than just information on where they went to school and what degrees they earned. This will help you quickly access the most promising candidates. The best part is, you will have more time to spend with each applicant on the shortlist and do what computers still can’t: use your instincts, i.e. your HR experience and your knowledge of the company.

Big data acts as a set of additional filters that help eliminate errors in the recruiting process. It’s an excellent way to generate a shortlist of applicants that can be passed on to flesh-and-blood experts. This part is key. It means that people skills will become even more important for professional recruiters. And that’s a good thing, both for HR reps and for applicants.

People skills as the top priority

It would be a mistake to forget about the human side of HR. Soft skills (people skills and personality) are even more important than hard skills (measurable, demonstrable technical skills) when it comes to filling a vacant position. You can find the most qualified engineers in the world, with degrees from the top schools and the very best technical skills, but if they cannot get along with their colleagues and work as a team, the result will be disastrous.

People with soft skills

And the best algorithm in the world will be of no use when it comes to avoiding this pitfall. It cannot tell you whether a candidate is empathetic or creative or able to work on a team. While getting to know and testing various candidates, hiring managers are able to pick up on these soft skills.

This is good news for the modern hiring manager, since this will make their jobs more rewarding. Here at Agorize we are well-versed in this, since open innovation challenges provide the perfect opportunity to test soft skills. Participants work in teams on key challenges facing companies, so that hiring managers have ample opportunity to observe potential hires and their commitment, motivation and adaptability. As for hard skills, they are easy to judge based on the projects submitted by the teams. This is also a great way for the participants to get to know the employer’s personality.

To sum up, taking this approach to the recruiting process yields significant benefits:

  1. Fewer time-wasting, costly errors for the company.
  2. Much more interesting work for hiring managers.

The chance to spend more time evaluating soft skills is sure to be a hit with today’s HR reps. They have a long-term vision for the company. They know that successful recruitment means a lot more than just making sure the office at the end of the hall doesn’t spend too long gathering dust. It is a key factor for a company’s success and growth, and a top priority for ensuring its sustainability.

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