Connecting the Global Talent Community: Five Key Learnings from RecFest Roundtables

October 5, 2020 Aon's Assessment Solutions

RecFest hosts the largest talent acquisition (TA) event on the planet. With over 10,000 registrants from across the globe, the event consisted of three days of sharing ideas, debating and innovative thinking. This year, RecFest went virtual – having to move away from its usual in-person event at Mudchute Farm in London.
However, being virtual did not stop the TA community from being connected. The TA community understands that its role in attracting, hiring and onboarding the very best talent for its businesses has probably never been more important and valued. It is connecting people with work in an uncertain job market. The community has had to quickly adapt and evolve its practices - and strengthen engagement with its candidates.

Aon was delighted to host a number of roundtable discussions centered around the talent strategies needed as we move through the changes created by the outbreak of COVID-19. Joining the roundtables were talent leaders from across a range of industries and organizations, each sharing their stories about how they have led through the pandemic. Without doubt, it has been a period of change for many - with furloughs, redefined roles and new challenges.
Here are our learnings from the roundtables.

1. The global COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of new technology

Working from home and being without the usual in-person conversations and check-ins has sped up the need to get our heads around communication technology. Organizations have had to put in place the hardware, policies and infrastructure to move meetings online.
However, it is more than meeting technologies that TA teams have had to get to grips with. They have needed to source, learn about and set up virtual recruitment platforms and work out new processes. They have discovered a new world of hiring technologies and onboarding software that they have not had to deal with before.
Many in the TA community have embraced this. Others remain reticent because of initial investment and a fear of reliance on such software if budgets later get squeezed.
We also heard about ‘Zoom fatigue’ - the weariness experienced from yet another video-based call. It has led to companies looking at different ways of engaging with people over tech.

2. While technology has been adopted, virtual assessment and recruitment still need to be ‘demystified’

Simply hosting an interview via Zoom, Microsoft Teams or WebEx is great for enabling interviews to take place – even when in-person interviews are not possible. However, the biases inherent in the interview process remain. Even structured and competency-based interviews can still include unconscious bias. This is where video interview assessments come into their own; for example, tools such as vidAssess-AI. These pose the same questions to each interviewee for them to record their response. AI, trained by HR experts, scores the words spoken by the interviewee – focusing on what is said rather than how it is said, their appearance or their gestures. As the interviews are recorded, they can be re-watched and shared across the hiring team, further minimizing any bias from just one person interviewing.

Even though talent assessment has been around for decades, there are still some organizations that are not yet convinced of the benefits of using such tools during recruitment. Perhaps they still think of the psychometric tests of yesteryear - lengthy, uninspiring, seemingly disconnected from job tasks and focused only on reasoning with numbers, words or shapes?

Things have moved on.  

Now is the time for all TA leaders to re-examine talent assessment and make sure their business is identifying the right talent for their company. There will be more candidates for fewer roles. TA professionals must be sure they are focusing on the very best applicants. Recruiters could look to see how contemporary psychometric tools are easy to embed in a hiring process, quick to complete by the candidate, are customizable to the company, are engaging and now reflect the very real aspects of a specific job. There is so much evidence around to show that companies can hire a better fit of candidate to job role when using assessments.

3. Companies are unaware of the power of personality and behavioral assessment

Some TA leaders view the use of behavioral and personality assessments as the tools of their L&D or post-hire colleagues. They do not recognize the value these can bring early in the selection stages, mapping candidates against the job.
In recent years, there have been very significant steps forward in the personality questionnaire format, relevance, ease of use, cost and set up. No longer are candidates asked to rate non-work-related statements for 45 minutes which bear little resemblance to what they think is needed in the job. Now such measures focus on those specific competencies needed. They are speedy to complete (even on a mobile device) and have various reporting functionality to help out during interview sessions. There are also tools that help match candidates to specific job types, so you can help guide candidates to the best fit area for them.
As organizations develop, new roles emerge – roles for which there may be no applicants or candidates with the right skills. By looking specifically at those behaviors needed, the talent pool is widened; typically, it is those behaviors that are more transferable between roles than skill sets. This means companies can start to future-proof themselves by hiring and developing those behaviors needed by the more agile future world of work.

4. The change in working practices prompted by COVID-19 has opened up access to diverse talent pools as working from home will be more commonplace

For some, hiring was frozen. For other businesses, recruitment continued, adapting processes and activities to make sure talent was being hired and onboarded.
Who could have predicted that leaders would be making decisions and hiring people without meeting them in-person or without the candidates meeting in the office?
One common theme was expressed time and again by those attending our roundtable discussions. It is harder than ever to attract people into the business with no career conferences and university open days taking place. While online virtual career days exist, engagement has been low. TA leaders need to be creative about how to attract new talent.
This coincides with the increase in organizations widening their applicant reach by going beyond targeting specific universities or degree subjects for their graduate programs – or particular degree grades. Organizations are realizing that strong talent can be found in other places too – and assessments can gauge the values and behavioral fit with a company.

5. It is difficult to retain young talent of the future, there is a need to open career paths for young talent

Those TA leaders we spoke with told us there is more graduate talent on the market all applying to more companies. It is the result of some companies pausing their graduate recruitment due to business uncertainty and logistical challenges.
This means for those still hiring, standing out from the competition and creating an engaging application and selection process for the candidates is essential to hiring firms. We work with clients every day to help them do just this.  

The roundtables highlighted the following challenges that TA leaders are facing right now:

  • Sourcing and adopting new technologies.
  • Attracting a diverse applicant pool.
  • Differentiating themselves from their competition.
  • Finding the best candidates in a vast talent pool.

The challenges are probably not going away very soon. We are working with clients to navigate the challenges and to ensure that the best talent is attracted and hired.

Contact us if you would like to know more.


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Aon creates smart measurement solutions with valid and innovative online assessment products. Aon is globally the preferred partner for organisations who demand the best.

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