2020 has been an unpredictable year. So much of what we predicted in January had already been shelved by March as organisations went virtual almost overnight. 

One thing that didn’t surprise us? The rise of AI in talent acquisition, which we identified as one of the emerging talent trends for 2020 back in December last year. However we never imagined just how essential – and how quick –  the shift would be for organisations trying to attract the best talent.

Necessity is the mother of AI-nvention

Most talent acquisition teams have spent years honing their virtual processes, using technology to deliver quality hires with greater efficiency, candidate experience, and at lower cost.

While many organisations have delayed hiring during the pandemic, for others the current climate has turbocharged their existing virtual endeavours. Essential services, like supermarkets and other on-demand offerings, have seen their recruitment needs skyrocket and in the age of social distancing, virtual tools have been the only way to safely find qualified talent.

But what started as a needs-driven response to the pandemic is quickly becoming standard. As economies and hiring processes begin to pick up, other organisations are adopting virtual hiring processes in line with the now normalised virtual approach to work.

Take, for example, the sports entertainment organisation that, pre-COVID, anticipated recruiting 4,500 people through traditional in-person recruitment methods from May 2020. The pandemic changed all this. They revised hiring estimates downwards and while also focusing on minimising talent acquisition costs.

We worked with the organisation to develop a 100% digital campaign that streamlined applications down from six separate processes to a single workflow that was fully automated up to the point of the manager’s ultimate decision to hire. The result? A process that was shorter by 60% while improving the level of candidate care, reducing costs and laying the foundation for a more agile and sophisticated way of recruiting in the future.

Four benefits of virtual hiring

The pandemic has shifted our expectations of what can be achieved online. It’s enabled organisations and managers to make the necessary mindset shift required to embrace virtual recruitment practices more quickly. This creates an opportunity to unlock the benefits that virtual hiring offers over traditional processes.

  1.     Scaling fast and saving costs

The uncertainty unleashed by the pandemic has made organisational agility more important than ever. Leaders are looking for ways to manage the ebb and flow of the economy and what this means for hiring.

Technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) make rescaling quicker and more cost effective – two critical objectives to hit in this environment.

  1.     High-tech can mean even higher touch

Timely communication during recruitment processes is an essential element of candidate care. It’s also a major challenge, particularly in high volume recruitment: 53% of candidates say the top cause of communication breakdown is when a recruiter ‘ghosts’ them.

Virtual solutions can help relieve this pressure, with “always on” chatbots available anytime to respond to candidate queries. As job anxiety rises alongside economic recession, the value that tech offers in helping candidates feel informed and empowered cannot be overstated.

  1.     Find the right talent – externally and internally

Rising unemployment means more applicants for fewer roles. Tech can help alleviate this load by ensuring that all applications are given equal treatment and quality candidates aren’t lost in the paper shuffle.

Tools like success profiles can ensure this process is based on what good looks like in your organisation and easily carries across to internal talent mobility, giving your best people the best opportunities to excel.

  1.     Providing critical support when it’s needed most

Taken together, these benefits mean talent acquisition teams have the support they need to provide a great candidate experience more cost effectively, while candidates feel informed and engaged.

These benefits flow from six key advantages tech has over traditional processes: efficient, always-on, high-touch, effective, engaging, inclusive.

To learn more dynamic ways to hire and onboard during and post-pandemic, download The Future Of Hiring: Why Virtual Solutions Are Here For Good.

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About the contributor

Pip Eastman is the Managing Director for APAC Regional Solutions, RPO and Professional Search, Korn Ferry. She is responsible for the performance and growth of the APAC business; developing new clients, enhancing market presence and integrating RPO and Professional Search’s lines of business into existing clients. Pip has extensive experience in solution design. Her responsibilities included client development, contract and commercial negotiations, and the implementation, operational delivery, and continuous improvement of projects.

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