The Time is Now

COVER FEATURE – Simon Kent investigates the potential of real-time information and what’s achievable now.

The recruitment industry is becoming so fast paced and competitive that there seems to be occasions when, if you have to wait to be told there is a vacancy you can fill, you’ve already missed the boat. The trend for ‘Now’ has undoubted come from other industries: “Real-time data is a must in a number of sectors,” says Richard Turner at Innovantage. “In reality the recruitment industry has been behind this trend, but for other industries it was based on the need to have real-time pricing and yield management solutions in price competitive environments.”

Robert Dagge, managing director, Dynistics agrees that the recruitment industry is only now realising the true power of real-time information. However this is, to some extent, part of the journey within the industry towards more efficient data use in general. “The recruitment industry is data rich but hasn’t always been data smart,” he says. “We’re now witnessing a cultural shift in terms of embracing data and using it across a business.” Dagge says that where previously a team would have been reliant on senior management to let them know when they have – or haven’t – met their targets, now everyone is now able to see their own statistics and whether or not they are on track. If Dagge identifies an area of recruitment management where real-time data can help, Roderick Smyth, CEO TempBuddy & chief strategy officer, Erecruit can identify particularly fast moving sectors where enhanced information flow can benefit recruitment business: “It’s especially relevant to fast-paced multi-shift temporary sectors such as hospitality, or where there are acute skills shortages such as education,” he says. “Candidates are usually registered with several agencies, and recruiters that are able to communicate best with their workers, making their life easier too, will win out.”

Performance and processes are therefore equally in scope for the real-time revolution. From client finances to candidate feedback, the benefits of knowing the impact of a recruitment business’ work as soon as possible after the event is unquestionable. 

Erica Titchener, global head of technology and talent strategy consulting at Alexander Mann Solutions notes that if candidate feedback is measured only through surveys and later analysis then “it’s highly possible that the applicant will have shared their views with friends or even on social media” before the business is even aware that there has been a problem. “The damage is already done,” she notes.

Adam White, co-founder and COO of talent search network and platform Winter Circle suggests the surge in real-time data is partly due to the rise in other technology use such as AI: “We’ve started to witness the use of data, machine leaning and AI in volume recruitment, specifically around predicting behaviours, outcomes and assessments that are starting to mature within the industry,” he says. “There have also been major advances in tools that have significantly reduced the admin elements of the recruitment process. Equally, data is starting to be captured far better to both share information and feedback, and to provide an analytical view on the health of vacancies and activities.”

White challenges is actually using ‘real-time’ data, a thought shared by cube19’s Dan McGuire: “There is definitely a larger appetite for data amongst the recruitment industry now but I’m sceptical how much of it is real-time,” he says. “At cube19 we’re pulling data every minute or two from most of our CRM partners and that’s very fast for business data but it still needs to be processed and made available to the user in a format they can understand immediately. In many cases fast data acquisition is offset by slow processing. If you throw in all the folks who still want email reports – something we don’t do – then you add whatever time elapses between data acquisition and the recipient reading it, which can be days.”

The future

Ultimately, how one regards the potential of real-time data hinges on two issues. What area of recruitment work the data is being applied to and how far recruiters are likely to adopt the accompanying functionality. Richard Turner of Innovantage suggests there will be a “real shift from the current world” which will include an eradication of the need for CVs (the technology will already know all about you) and a move towards mobile devices and other technology pushing opportunities at candidates rather than candidates chasing opportunities.

The ultimate benefit for recruiters is less cost associated with administration and more time for recruiters to focus on what only human recruiters can do well – resourcing the best candidates and effective business development,” says Alex Fraser, director at Engage, VMS and back office supplier, and his analysis is echoed by David Bell, director of Solutio: “The vision is to put recruiters where they should be — as human beings creating and maintaining relationships with others — making careers and businesses better. Technology will do everything else; transaction costs will reduce and worker happiness will increase through being paid quicker and more accurately.”

“The recruitment industry is at a turning point where tools are being built for clients, recruiters and candidates to help them to start sharing information directly with one another,” says Adam White. “If set up correctly, we can start to use all of the this technology to track, trend and forecast activities.”

Real-time now 

David Bell, director, Solutio:

We provide a real-time view on incoming/outgoing payments, real-time payroll of workers, timesheet exceptions and much more. We can also tell when we believe there is possible tax avoidance in the supply chain meaning and an indication when workers are not behaving according to their contracts. 

Robert Dagge, managing director, Dynistics:

Dynistics Active Dashboards enable recruiters to get rich insights for improved operational efficiencies throughout the complete recruitment lifecycle, using real-time information to take pre-emptive action faster to gain competitive advantage. Dynistics Performance Platform gives smaller recruitment consultancies insight into their current activities, on aspects such as jobs on site, interviews, revenues, contracts and temporary hires.

The real-time information our clients choose to monitor isn’t always the same and the benefits vary too. One Active Dashboards client has seen a direct impact on revenue, with their annualised revenues growing in excess of 10 per cent every year for the last five years. Another agency has saved 40 per cent on reporting times, allowing them to redirect resource to where it benefits the company the most.

Roderick Smyth, CEO TempBuddy & chief strategy officer, Erecruit:

Real-time availability is at the core of TempBuddy’s functionality. Our latest app allows workers to indicate and view their split shift availability and accepted assignments. By advising their recruiter of their real-time availability to work, they stand more chance of being deployed into bookings. We also give both the recruiter and employer real-time visibility of their workforce, delivered as a result of each worker checking in and out of their bookings with a geo-tagged and time-stamped biometric selfie. There are multiple benefits to this real-time data including visibility of remote workers and the ability to pre-empt no-shows. Ultimately it’s all about enhancing the quality of service recruiters deliver to their clients and candidates.

Richard Turner, Innovantage:

We acquire in real time all roles (demand) available across multiple countries. We can tell a recruiter of a new role specific to their candidate in seconds of it being pushed onto the web. This includes every single word that is used in an advert so you can search on ‘any or all’ content. This is them matched to the ONS data to forecast demand and supply risk and potential. It’s a real time forecast of competitors positioning (source), market trends (by industry) and your clients (customer) activities to deliver a better user and candidate/client experience.

Alex Fraser, director, Engage:

End hirers using the Engage SaaS platform (such as those in construction) can benefit from live reporting of all their contingent workforce on a project or on site, at division level and by a supplier agency. This includes staff volumes, roles, trades and cost. Both end hirers and agencies incorporating the facility of Engage can also see real-time compliance status of workers live on site including ID and right to work documentation. Finally, the agency benefits from the integrated agency back office functionality allows for all information flows to be processed on one platform supporting a real time view of candidates registered, timesheets submitted/approved and worker wage payments processed. Being fully accessible on mobile devices means that Engage end hirers, agencies and workers can stay up to date with real time information 24/7.

Dan McGuire, cube19:

Recruitment companies have four key assets: their own employees, their clients, the jobs they’re working for those clients and the candidates they’re trying to place in those jobs. At cube19 we believe you should be able to answer a question about any of those assets or any of the activity that connects those assets within a couple of clicks; and when the data provided poses another question you should be able to find the answer quickly by drilling into your data. Having real-time data is just the start because just having it doesn’t mean you have actionable insights. Giving data context and meaning is essential to turn it into information and it’s availability of information that allows everyone in your organisation to make data-driven decisions.