SonoTalks #1: Interview with Louise Triance on Recruitment in 2023, AI and RecTech adoption
In this blog series, we interview industry-leading professionals to share their experience and outlook for the market. Our first guest is Louise Triance, MD, at UK Recruiter, a leading news and networking platform for the UK recruitment space.
Louise is a Recruitment Industry Connector, Live Webcast Expert, Event Organiser & Advisor. She is also a trained psychometric assessor. Over the past 20 years, she has hosted hundreds of events for recruiters, blogged regularly for over a dozen years and published more than 1000 weekly newsletters to an organically grown network of 30,000+ recruitment professionals.
What are your thoughts on 2023? What will be the main trends, challenges, or opportunities?
One of the main trends is to leverage technology in sophisticated ways to streamline your business. Over the last 3-4 years, there has been a lot of talk about technological advancements that can shape and transform the recruitment industry. Recruitment leaders often talk about how those can be utilised and are trying to determine which tools to integrate into day-to-day operations.
Economic pressure can be considered a major roadblock regarding the challenges in 2023. This will be a significant concern for some recruitment groups as some market sectors will likely slow down due to the recession or even layoffs. But there are also loads of opportunities out there that recruiters can leverage.
Permanent vs contract recruitment. How do you think the tides will change?
Sonovate did some interesting research on this. The statistics show that the contract market is expanding and represents a massive opportunity.
Recruiters who focus on particular niches can now consider exploring more of the contractor economy and how they can support it. It’s a different type of recruitment and requires diverse skills and platforms.
Will companies tend to build in-house recruitment teams or outsource to agencies?
The essentials have stayed the same since I joined the industry, and it is challenging to be successful without agencies. Businesses see the value in building an internal team but also in utilising external resources to hire.
For a company of a specific size, you should have a robust internal hiring team. But there is always a need for recruitment agencies, especially when looking to fill a niche role. For example, you are a pharmaceutical firm with an excellent in-house recruitment team. You are now looking for a CFO; then, of course, you need recruiters who hire this kind of skillset. Your internal recruitment team knows how to hire pharma reps, not the CFO.
Every hiring journey is different. Recruitment agencies will always be part of the hiring process as they can run the end-to-end function, which is often missing in in-house recruitment teams.
What tools would you recommend to help recruiters grow?
Broadly speaking, you must evaluate what your peers are using or looking at. Often, it is about more than just using trending tools; it’s about picking the right ones.
For example, there are a lot of platforms that allow you to post content across social media channels. But, as a recruitment business, you must consider whether that software is ideal for your agency. Recruitment tools that improve automation are worth looking at. Specifically, the ones that allow you to leverage your CRM better.
One significant issue I have noticed is that recruiters have loads of data on candidates and clients, but they sometimes need help to utilise it properly. When they get a new assignment or pitch a new client, they don’t always use the resources they have. So, they tend to reinvent the wheel. Two things can be done here: using tech automation tools and leveraging what is in your CRM.
For some agencies, it takes months to implement new tools. How to make that faster?
It is always easy to implement a RecTech tool if it is essential to your business. You need to know where the tool will add value or change your processes. Integrating the tool or the platform into your existing CRM is easier once you understand why you need to use it in the first place.
Internal communications and a training strategy are also essential. If the tool is right for your recruitment business, people should adopt it swiftly. If you opt for plug-and-play solutions, they could use them incorrectly.
Analysing the ROI from your tech stack can be a game changer. For example- if somebody using a tool is making more placements, the tool is improving the KPIs and the placements. Once other employees see the impact, adopting it will never be an issue.
What are your thoughts on AI? How can it influence the recruitment industry?
AI and automation will inevitably change how specific roles function, and if you can adapt to that, you don’t need to be concerned about losing your job.
When I started recruitment 30 years ago, CVS would come in by fax, or someone would bring them in or post them off, and then there would be employees who would type those up to be presented to clients in printed form. Automation has removed the need for such roles, but people in those positions have taken on different responsibilities. AI doesn’t remove the need for a particular role; it can make your work more efficient and error-free.
It would be best if you thought about how you can utilise the different tech tools and AI to save time. If, for example, it helps you to screen through hundreds of CVs, you can use your human resources to deliver other responsibilities.
You have an impressive LinkedIn profile with some 20,000+ followers. How can professionals grow their LinkedIn network and promote themselves as a brand?
I had a serious advantage of getting in early. It would be incredibly challenging if I wanted to re-create a profile from scratch. Being an early adopter does have its benefits, but it is hard. It is all about relationship-building with the audience. It would be best to look at the recruitment influencers, the industry-leading experts in your space that you might want to connect with and make every effort to do that.
Growing your recruitment network is not spamming, like sending random LinkedIn requests. It is about behaving humanly to build genuine relationships. Authenticity beats algorithms any day.
If I were a recruiter willing to leverage contract recruitment, I would check out Katrina Collier’s book about robot-proof recruitment. It provides insights and how to grow and stand out in this competitive space.
We continue to hear about talent shortages in the UK, especially in the Tech sector. How do you see this issue sorted out? Does it mean that UK companies will hire more overseas?
There are three options here. Training is always the first option. The second is to run your recruitment business without hiring overseas. Find a way to run the company with tools and platforms to reduce some of the responsibilities these roles entail. The third option is to hire resources overseas and ask them to work remotely.
Since the pandemic, more organisations are comfortable with remote work, so the third option is now more straightforward. You can hire somebody in a different time zone from a foreign country. But two other challenges are whether you hire them to work remotely or arrange for them to come to the UK. The real need here is to identify the skills required for a particular role and sort people out in your organisation accordingly.
Or the solution can be anything in between. You can help clients source people they could train. You can help them to identify skilled resources within the UK without the need to hire overseas. You can also guide them to hire overseas in remote roles. The aim is to build a proper consultative relationship with your client to help them solve their challenges.
What keeps you going in the recruitment space?
Initially, when I first worked in recruitment, it was exciting to be involved with different types of organisations and understand how businesses operate. I have worked with companies from various domains—for example, consumer goods companies like Walkers and Pepsi. I have also worked with tech companies like Sky and Vodafone.
The amount of information you can have about an organisation and the impact you can make is impressive. As a recruiter, I loved it. Throughout the years, I helped these companies source talent for roles from marketing to sales to finance to support.
Even though much has changed over the years, the core is still the same. We are still putting together individuals and organisations and ensuring that clients get the best possible fit and that candidates have a good experience.
It is fascinating that, as a recruiter, you can influence a business’s trajectory by finding the right talent. You also impact an individual’s life by enabling them to find the right role. So, when you work in recruitment, there is a lot of responsibility to shoulder. I think everyone working in this space knows it. I have always found this fascinating and wanted to be a part of it.
Do you still do recruitment?
When I started my career, I joined a hybrid recruitment firm with two offices across the UK. In my first year of joining, there was 100% attrition. It was a high-turnover recruitment firm, and I stayed with them on and off for 12 years. I enjoyed working with them as a sourcer for the exec search division; that was my role before I left.
In theory, I have not done any recruitment for the last 12 years. My last placement was as a senior consultant working for an executive search firm.
Recently I worked with a video technology company and did some hiring for them, but that was not as a recruitment agent. It was more of an internal hire.
There is a lot of discussion about candidates being ghosted by recruiters. What is your view on that?
Like every other profession, there can be people in recruitment who are difficult to work with. You can have 40 interactions with recruiters, and they would all be great, but that one person who made no effort is the one you would remember. The recruiters I know are amazing people who care passionately about their work.
Recruiters try hard to balance two sets of people: the hiring manager and the candidate. It can be challenging. Some hiring managers string you along or don’t give enough clarity about what they’re looking for. There are even hiring managers who have no intention of filling a role or have tried to take on a placement behind your back.
Then there are job seekers who are not committed and do not share all the information. They could be hoping to get a counteroffer from their current employer or don’t really need a new job.
So, the entire issue of ghosting is not always on the recruiters.
What is the essential asset for a recruitment agency other than its people?
The most important asset would be the ability to network with the right professionals and grow as an agency. Understanding the network you need to thrive after analysing your existing position in the recruitment sector is imperative; it’s the trait of a good recruiter.
You will be an ineffective niche recruiter if you are aware of the experts in your space and cannot interact with them. This can happen to those who lack soft skills or don’t use technology to its full potential.
If you want assignments, you need to be thoroughly aware of the recruitment sector’s pros and cons, including its opportunities and challenges.
Let your followers know something personal about you. What were the funniest episodes of your career?
I will share something funny that shows how long I have been in this industry. This was one of my very first interactions in the recruitment space. I went to a high street agency looking for temporary work. I was 19 then. As I walked towards the reception, I saw the receptionist smoking while sitting at her desk. She saw me and took the cigarette out of her mouth. She opened her desk drawer and put the lit cigarette inside. Because that was her polite way of greeting somebody in the agency. As I spoke to her, I saw the smoke drifting from her drawer!
You can follow Louise on LinkedIn.
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