Automation: Shopping for procurement talent

How automation benefits the recruiting or headhunting process...

Taking our shopping experience online has revolutionised how we shop as a consumer. Through automation, we have gone from spending significant amounts of time roaming the aisles of stores hunting for what we need to a simple search and click process that enables us to complete the task in relative minutes.

Anyone would be hard-pressed to find fault in the convenience and speed that this automation delivers – especially during the current COVID-19 crisis.

However, does automation work in all areas of our daily lives and the way we do business. For example, do we apply the same philosophy and processes when we are selecting talent?

The focus of this article is to assess the areas that automation benefits the recruiting or headhunting process. We will also identify the areas in which its effectiveness is somewhat limited.

A needle in the haystack

According to one report, 50 per cent of all FP 500 companies lack a “candidate/applicant nurture strategy.” Specifically, they fail to provide a viable means for talent to express interest in a position beyond “forcing” them to apply with narrow application parameters.

So, while venues such as LinkedIn are convenient regarding soliciting and receiving CVs, is candidate quantity taking precedence over candidate quality? Alternatively, are the volumes of CV’s making it more difficult to not only attract the best and brightest candidates but make their identification the equivalent of finding a needle in the haystack.

Using our online shopping analogy, as we browse through a plethora of CVs, and add them to our shopping cart how do we know that we are selecting the right candidates to invite to interview?

Different tools for different hires

When it comes leveraging automation to drive your recruiting and hiring process, there is no such thing as a one size fits all approach. Knowing for what positions and how to use technology is critical.

For example, for job openings that require less experience, there is a significant likelihood that you will be “swamped” with applications. In this regard, specific tools like “keywords” to evaluate candidates makes a good deal of sense. Otherwise, there would not be enough hours in the day to sift through and sort candidate submissions.

Conversely, when we think about senior or executive opportunities, simple keyword searching is hardly efficient as this hiring process requires more significant personal interaction with each submission.

I recently spoke to a CPO in Europe with over ten years of C-level experience who shared their thoughts on a fully automated recruitment process. In one instance, in which they submitted their CV, they received the e-mail version of a form letter stating “Unfortunately your application wasn’t successful as the business requires a Chief Procurement Officer, which is something that your CV doesn’t demonstrate.”

Having investigated further, they quickly discovered that because they had abbreviated their previous job titles, the system did not recognise their experience as a CPO. Ultimately, and by relying solely on automation, the company lost out on the opportunity to hire a top-notch professional.

How many times a misaligned keyword search has resulted in similar outcomes across the industry is up for debate. However, you get my point regarding knowing when and how to use automation in your organisation’s recruiting process.

Given the above examples, measuring the effectiveness of your automated recruiting process regardless of the positions you are looking to fill is essential.

Measuring your success

Beyond the time to fill a position – the average is 42 days for most general posts and much longer as you move up into the senior executive level ranks, to measure automation’s effectiveness you must consider the following:

The overall time in the recruitment process

Designing a comprehensive specification

Risk (i.e. keyword misalignment)

Application drop off rate

Percentage of hires to CV submissions

Outcome measurement, i.e., quality of hire including retention

Interview process

Candidate process satisfaction (feedback)

Relationship management of applicants

As you consider the above, it is reasonable to wonder if the war on talent in procurement and the resulting talent gap is due to an “actual shortage” or if the current automation and evaluation processes are not being strategically leveraged and measured to achieve the best results.

Don’t forget to take our 1-minute CPO Strategy – Sourcing Solved Survey: Assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the procurement professional:

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