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Recruitment Market Talk: Expertise Still Trumps Tech

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Personalized messages are necessary to stick out from the crowd and to reach the right candidates on the labor market. AI and other automated tools can help boost recruitment efficiency, but that sort of tech is still at a premature stage.

Tammy Nagy-Stellini, of Hays.

A combination of 5% GDP growth and record low unemployment of 3.6% keep demand high for recruitment agency services as employers find it increasingly difficult to hire ideal candidates. Add in the unfavorable demographics in Hungary, and the situation looks even worse.  

“Our services were sought more than ever in the past year, but the real challenge was whether headhunting companies were enabled by their own resources and technological preparedness to grab these superb market opportunities,” Sándor Baja, managing director of Randstad, tells the Budapest Business Journal.

“There are ever more vacancies out there, and it is increasingly tough to find candidates,” agrees Éva Paulovics, general manager of Jobsgarden.

“The most wanted age group is the one with 0-5 years of experience, and for this segment a lot higher wages are demanded,” she says. “The mid-senior and executive level, in turn, didn’t see a similar increase either in terms of open positions, or regarding wage hike.”

Hays puts particular emphasis on innovative thinking when it comes to meeting client needs. As managing director Tammy Nagy-Stellini tells the BBJ, it has had to be very creative to reach out and penetrate the market.

György G. Palásti, of Grafton.

Investing in Tech

“Candidates are given many opportunities and we need to ensure we provide our candidates with the right opportunity at the right time,” she says.” As a company we have been investing in new technologies to keep abreast of the market and we continue to provide consultation to both candidates and clients, ensuring we develop lifelong partnerships.”

Indeed, creativity simply must be part of the toolkit for recruitment heavyweights. This attitude also applies to adapting conventional recruitment methods to new communications channels. According to György G. Palásti, managing director of Grafton, many agencies use social media platforms with success. Yet, it is far from rare to see young professionals making major blunders due to the lack of proper training.

“Given the nature of these new communications channels, such flaws are more spectacular and harder to manage. The old truth still holds, namely that novel recruitment methods don’t replace HR expertise,” he says.

Stellini believes that recruitment methods have changed, and will continue to do so, to reflect the needs of the market.

“However, even if social media, AI and other new technologies become more and more popular, face-to-face communication and the power of personal meetings will never fall out of date; they will live in parallel with the newest communication channels,” she notes.

Standing Out

Jobsgarden says it has detected the most substantial changes in the field of sourcing. Social media helps, but it’s also hard to benefit from it.

“You need to stick out of the crowd, your message meant for active and passive job seekers must emerge somehow from the noise,” Paulovics explains. Ads have become personalized as well. Most businesses strive to follow up on these changes, but the speed at which they succeed and the applied technologies differ.

Among those technologies, artificial intelligence is advancing worldwide and is set to disrupt the art of HR as we know it, experts agree. Every element of it will be measurable from recruitment to performance management to employee behavior.

No wonder LinkedIn has recently acquired employment engagement platform Glint. Amy and Andrew, inventions by X.ai can schedule meetings directly with candidates, whereas personal recruitment assistants Mya and Olivia will replying to questions by using natural-language recognition.

Randstad confirms that testing and introducing AI-based projects is under way and their use is inevitable. However, it would be premature to provide any overall assessment of them.

Complex Decisions

Grafton’s managing director agrees that AI will alter our lives at a slower pace and its impact will also be more limited than expected. On reason is that people decide to change their workplace on the basis of a much more complex set of aspects than, say, when they buy a television.

“Whereas software outperforms humans at playing chess, it can map professional and personal values and expectations only partially,” says Palásti.

“Just as we experience in the field of customer service, the majority of people still expect instant and customized answers from their service provider. It’s hardly an overstatement that everybody wants to be a premium or private bank customer,” he says. Therefore, on today’s applicant-driven labor market, it is no accident that not only senior executives but also experienced professionals desire to have their own headhunter.

“For them, automated systems messages, video recordings with nobody on the other end of the line or a chat bot won’t be attractive at all,” he says.

Jobsgarden’s experience shows that AI is not yet widespread in Hungary when it comes to recruitment. Only certain automated solutions have started to gain recognition such as automated tests, application management schemes or video interviews. The latter certainly provides flexibility timewise for both parties.

At Hays, this technology is considered as a legitimate tool with some limitations. As Nagy-Stellini notes, to access a candidate, video interviews with preset questions will never be able to replace the human factor, which plays a key role in matching the candidate to the client and providing the consulting approach to both parties.

Randstad also has mixed experience in this regard. “We used it in many countries with success. In Hungary, entry level applicants didn’t like it in spite of its advantages. We’re still waiting for the moment the market is ready to embrace it,” concludes Baja.

His thoughts are supported by a recent Deloitte survey that found 72% of companies are aware the usefulness of video interviews, yet less than a third are ready to use them.

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