New ways to recruit without going wrong

It’s the end of hand-sorting CVs. From the identification of rare gems to evaluation methods and candidate management, the digital revolution has shaken up recruiters’ habits – all while multiplying their efficiency.

She’s barely put the black headset on when the hubbub of the recruiting fair fades away. Mathilde, engineering student, thought she was at the Thales stand. Suddenly she’s transported into a Star Wars-style universe. She skims by a telecommunications satellite, plunges into cyberspace like the Matrix, and finds herself at the controls of a fighter jet…all in two minutes. Guaranteed “wow” factor.

“Virtual reality is far more effective than a PowerPoint presentation or a conference on our scientific jobs at making people want to work with us”, explains Vincent Mattei, Thales France’s director of recruitment and mobility. Most young people only identify the group with the defence sector. By shining the spotlight on its other divisions – space, aeronautical, security and transport – virtual reality arouses people’s curiosity and starts conversations.

The use of this technology in the field of recruitment is an indicator of how drastically methods have changed. Big data and artificial intelligence are shaking up the way businesses are unearthing talent. In just fifteen years, we’ve gone from hand-sorting paper CVs to having unlimited access to extremely detailed data.

So, when will we see the breakthrough of chatbots, the tiny intelligent virtual assistants, in the stuffy world of human resources? “It won’t be long, we can already imagine them giving information to candidates who visit a corporate careers page, sorting the interesting CVs and giving personalised replies to applications”, predicts Jean-Christophe Anna, Managing Director of #Rmstouch, a company specialising in innovation for recruitment.

The real challenge for recruitment 3.0 is to provide faster and more precise analysis of the data, to establish the best possible link between the needs of businesses and a candidate’s qualities and potential.


#1 Big data and algorithms to unearth the best profiles

Speed and acuity are key factors in the temporary employment industry, where there are large numbers of job offers. One of the leaders in the sector, Randstad, implemented a new in-house tool almost two years ago, called “Big data by Randstad”. Custom-designed by Oracle and Capgemini, this search engine is based on a database of 3 million CVs, ads available on the internet (collated by the job offer aggregator Jobfeed), as well as official statistics. Most of this data and the analytics tools are accessible by Randstad’s 2,500 consultants.

So, how do they find that rare gem, having had this program for the last three years to boost their digital ability and be able to respond to clients in near-real-time? With just a few clicks, they know the number of positions to be filled, the types of roles, their locations, contacts, remuneration, travel time between home and work, the location of recruitment pools on the ground…they can also search by skills or competencies.

Equipped with this powerful tool, the best-performing consultants can get a firm offer from a client within just three appointments, instead of ten just one year ago. For François Béharel, president of Randstad France, “the time saved lets them concentrate on customer support”.


#2 Measuring candidates’ potential with predictive recruitment

Making or missing a sale can rely on small differences, “sometimes on the smile and sympathy of the salesperson”, thinks Fathallah Charef, HR director of the department store BHV, located in the trendy Marais district of Paris.

So, how do we unearth the rare gem with these qualities? It’s a real headache! “For three or four years, I tried everything, trawling through CVs, asking a thousand questions in the interview, checking references, but once the person was hired, they rarely fitted the position”, recalls the HR director. As tired of this as he was annoyed, he turned to “predictive” recruitment.

Based on big data and artificial intelligence, this booming technique lets companies “select people who have an increased probability of performing well, being committed to the business, and even having good compatibility with their manager’s style”, explains David Bernard, the director of AssessFirst, a company specializing in this type of recruitment.

The approach? To establish an identikit picture of the ideal profile based on information about current employees (sales performance, annual appraisal reports, seniority in the position and the business, training). So, for the last year, before any interviews, all of BHV’s candidates have completed three online questionnaires in order to evaluate their personality, their approach to working and what motivates them.

“When they have more than 60% similarity to the identikit profile of the ideal employee, we interview them; less than that score and we decline their application”, explains the HR director. After one year, recruitment has seen an increase in both efficiency and accuracy: in just 9% of cases, BHV doesn’t retain the candidate after the test period, compared to 17% before. Managers chosen through this process achieve an average of 11% higher turnover. And the recruitment process only takes thirty days in total now, compared to forty-five days before.


#3 Testing skills through online competitions

In order to optimize their recruitment and save time, businesses are also turning in a quasi-systematic way towards realistic scenarios. SII (the Society for Industrial Information technology) recently sponsored “Battle Dev”, an online programming competition organised by the employment website Regions-Job. This is how they were able to identify Jonathan Pfeiffer, 28 years old. This Web development engineer was one of almost 2000 participants in the competition.

The principle is simple. “We connect at an exact time and have a maximum of two hours to solve five problems in the language of our choice, which for me was PHP”, recounts the young man. Informed the next day of his ranking “in the top third”, Jonathan got a phone call from SII that same afternoon. “They offered me an interview which very quickly turned into a full-time contract, since they’d been able to judge my skills during Battle Dev”, describes the man who only entered the contest out of curiosity, while contemplating starting his own business.


#4 Build a special relationship with candidates online

Busy managing their digital adaptation, many businesses are seizing hold of the in-demand profiles, like data scientists, cyber-security experts, business analysts and network engineers…to seduce these “stars”, they’re taking inspiration from the world of marketing, treating them like customers, pampering them in every possible way, both online and in person, in order to give them the impression that they’re unique and are being given special service.  

In HR speak, we talk about “candidate experience” to describe the quality of interaction that they have with the recruiter. In order to make this as fluid as possible, on the 19th of January BNP Paribas inaugurated a network of 100 “job ambassadors”, tasked with answering questions from online visitors about the business, its functions and its values. They’re reinforcing the 300 existing ambassadors who have been responsible for talking to students from their alma maters since 2011.

Equally conscious of the importance of this relationship (both online and offline), Sopra Steria (a digital transformation specialist) is in turn setting up a network of ambassadors, who will complement the company’s representatives in schools, colleges, forums and fairs…In the same vein, the 120 trainees for 2017 working abroad will contribute to a special blog, recounting their day-to-day life. Internet users can also find videos online describing the different jobs in the group.

“Candidate experience doesn’t end with the signature on a contract”, insists Christelle Pradier, Sopra Steria’s recruitment director for France. “We maintain contact with the new employee by sending them information about our projects, inviting them to talk to our community of experts, and by offering training tailored to their needs.” Too much attention? Not at all. Because in a world that’s becoming more and more digital, the war for talent is in no way virtual.


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