Removing barriers to entry and rethinking recruiting tech

Mateo Cavasotto

Mateo Cavasotto · Dec 23

In a recent discussion of "blue-collar" workers, we considered the value this segment offers employers and explored how to better understand these job seekers. It made a case for the role HR plays, pointing to recruiting as one possible avenue of improvement and giving a few straightforward recommendations. Of course, more than can be done to develop and implement talent acquisition strategies tailored to this workforce. That starts by removing the barriers to entry often seen in traditional processes and rethinking the use of recruiting tech along the path from application to offer. Here's how:

Striking a new balance

There's a reason this work falls on the organization's proverbial shoulders – it's your outcomes at stake. Take this example from the life insurance industry. Recognizing that it was in desperate need of innovation, life insurers turned to predictive analytics, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, to improve modeling. Within two years, these companies saw a 60 percent reduction in the time spent by humans on repetitive tasks. Willis Towers Watson wrote, "Over two-thirds report that predictive analytics have helped reduce issue/underwriting expenses, while 60 percent credit the additional insights for increases in sales and profitability."

Imagine if recruiting took the same leap? The words "we've always done it that way" have become the kiss of death for talent acquisition, especially when engaging modern workers for operational and often-essential roles. Just because an organization has always relied on the same methods doesn't mean that these candidates can – or will – respond accordingly.

For instance, while a detailed resume and LinkedIn profile might be expected of a logistics and distribution manager, that probably isn't the case for a package handler. In some countries and locales, even an email address or stable internet connection might not be a non-starter for candidates, which means you can't force every candidate into an ATS.

By making an identical ask of candidate pools, recruiters inadvertently alienate job seekers who might otherwise be qualified were not for the untenable requests without considering the demographic itself. That's why, at a base level, recruiting teams need to ditch the old mindset and embrace the fact that hiring is changing (yet again). It's no longer organization-centric, and every role deserves explicit attention when it comes to what's really needed – from the applicants and, in turn, the employees (robots notwithstanding).

Bridging the gaps

In breaking down the walls and removing the barriers to entry, there is the potential that some solutions, like the aforementioned ATS, may not work all the time. If and when this happens, recruiters will still need to source and attract "blue-collar" workers, just not how they've "always done it." That marks the shift into "candidate-centric" territory, where the job seekers' availability, experience, and resources dictate the terms of the process, not the other way around.

The 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Hiring Trends report found, " … It's not just a matter of using technology to perform parts of the work ... The thoughtful use of technology makes it possible to change the nature of work so that it makes the most of people's distinctly human capabilities." This is the type of thinking that recruiting needs, particularly to source, engage and hire "blue-collar" workers. Thinking that recognizes the distinctly human quality of these candidates and then bridges the gaps through technology (without creating additional work for either side).

To successfully reach candidates, recruiters must revisit their approach and then re-configure. When email and internet aren't viable, physical events, supplemented with targeted advertising and outreach, become the primary means of attracting applicants, even under COVID-19 conditions. Rather than the usual table at a job fair, tech-powered information and application kiosks might take the place of onsite recruiters.

Mobile represents the strongest area of opportunity, with some 96 percent of Americans owning a cell phone of some kind, according to Pew Research. That figure remains still substantially higher than the number with broadband, meaning many potential candidates only have access to online activities through their mobile devices. Chat, text and SMS are becoming a more effective means of outreach, including QR code job ads at those in-person events or onsite facilities and text-to-apply options. Augmenting the creativity of talent teams, recruiting tech can facilitate and speed up everything from the initial candidate engagement, vetting their qualifications and availability, to interview scheduling by ensuring calendars align.

Getting on the same page

The experience of 2020 presented organizations the opportunity to embody human qualities with the support of technology. Nowhere is that truer than in the realm of "blue-collar" work, where even the most operational roles have become indispensable to the world around us. Recruiting can use these learnings to adapt and transform, moving from a function that gets by with a set way of doing things to one that understands and celebrates the unique candidates it works with and elevates their overall experience.

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