The ‘D-Suite’: Why the recruitment industry needs data-driven leaders

As we enter 2019, it’s more clear than ever that data isn’t going to simply play a supporting role – not for any industry, and certainly not for recruitment, where it may well take center stage. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, scientific approaches to assessment, talent intelligence, and other areas are dependent on it, so to keep up, recruitment firms must have a wealth of actionable information to draw on. To do so effectively, they must appoint data-driven business leaders.

Just as many firms have a C-Suite, modern recruitment firms should have a D-Suite – where analyzing information and using insight to improve key business processes are treated as urgently as sourcing candidates; pleasing clients while fulfilling other critical business functions. If you’re running a recruitment firm, here are three reasons to appoint some data-driven leaders.

AI and machine learning are on the way. Firms shouldn’t expect a smooth, painless and effort-free transition toward AI and machine learning: Adoption must be actively prepared for, and that means finding someone to take the lead.

For many forward-thinking firms, automation may have already mitigated – and in some cases eliminated – the need to perform low-value, high-effort activity. But it has also created greater expectations among clients and candidates. They want specialist consultancy and expertise – something akin to ‘workforce solutions’ – and to provide this, recruiters must do more than find square pegs for square holes.

Accordingly, it’s wise to appoint someone to lead the adoption of AI and machine learning technology: both in terms of how to use it, and in terms of how not to use it – for example, as a substitute for actual recruitment. Technology can augment, but it cannot supplant.

As for how it can augment your activity: Machine learning and AI facilitate a more scientific approach to sourcing candidates. For example, algorithms can be programmed to weed out various kinds of bias – ensuring that CVs are screened by quality and suitability and remain unaffected by unfair prejudices – assess the probability of successful placements, and much, much more. The technology buying process can also be long and complicated, and the right direction from senior members of staff can help guide and expedite the process.

Without good technology leadership, however, recruitment firms won’t be able to take full advantage.

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Upskilling shouldn’t be an uphill battle. Here, the “leadership” part is perhaps more important than the data. Encouraging your team to work with CRM and ATS systems, chatbots, social media, and other important technologies is just as important as the technologies themselves: if they’re optional at the moment, they will be non-negotiable in future – especially for sophisticated functions such as candidate search, relationship management, and reporting.

This is because having the internal capability to manage and analyze data isn’t the same as knowing how to do so. For example, how can your recruiters succeed with redeploying existing candidates or find new ones if they don’t fully understand how to make the most of the company’s CRM system?

Recruiters must be able to impart new knowledge and use new technology to maximum effectiveness. To that end, your data-driven leaders should be able to educate them on how to leverage these new tools – and they should also work on creating an effective and comprehensive digital presence.

That means creating a wide-ranging and uniform LinkedIn presence, but it also means becoming a part-time marketer. For instance, search engines are a battlefield for job postings, and without the ability to find and integrate the right long-tail keyword into a listing, you may find yourself buried on page two. Your internal marketers should, therefore, have some level of SEO knowledge.

Data-driven leaders must be able to facilitate in-house development and training in these and other areas if your company is to retain talent. Give your staff the opportunity to become skilled in areas that interest them, and your whole company will benefit.

Following the rules is more important – and more difficult – than ever. We are living in a post-GDPR world, and evidence suggests that we are not yet entirely comfortable with it: Nearly 47% of recruiters, per a recent Bullhorn report, don’t feel like they received enough training and support upon its introduction, and more than a quarter feel that their company didn’t do enough to prepare for it.

Appointing D-Suite leaders will help ensure that your firm develops the necessary internal data processing and protection capabilities to support compliance. Here, training and upskilling will also play a vital role in handling the three major challenges associated with the new regulation: the lack of clarity around the terms of GDPR (cited by 58%), establishing new data processing policies (56%), and auditing all IT and data-driven systems (44%).

Compliance is not optional, and awareness and education can go a long way towards ensuring a compliant business. GDPR adherence can’t be left to management and legal: it should be treated as its own function, and given its own data-driven leaders.

No senior manager or executive can be all things to all people. Recruiters must focus on the things that matter – and in an age of heightened expectations and sophisticated technology, having senior staff in place to leverage the strategic power of data can make all the difference. Give them leaders who will do so, and your business will flourish in the new year.

Peter Linas

Peter Linas
Peter Linas is international managing director at Bullhorn.

Peter Linas

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