Recruitment process: to automate or not?

Today, no one can deny that recruitment has become one of the priorities of HR departments and this is not by chance!

The pandemic has been a real catalyst for operational issues and business difficulties related to the HR function in general, and more specifically to recruitment. Some companies have been forced to digitize their processes without delay, while others, more advanced, have committed to agile and resilient approaches to meet today’s recruitment challenges.

HR Strategy

automation of the recruitment process

By Soufiane MAÏNE

HRIS Consultant

To predict the future, you need to know the past

I started writing this analysis before the pandemic, and I expanded it following the many exchanges I had with HRDs, and the news affecting Recruitment (big resignations, talent shortage…). It seemed necessary to me to come back on this subject to draw up a state of the art and especially to share my vision on the latter.

My starting point is the Recruitment strategy, which varies from one organization to another and is directly or indirectly impacted by several factors:

  • The core business: certain (niche) skills are rare on the market, or on the contrary, the supply is sometimes greater than the demand.
  • Recruitment policy: the HRD defines and implements the recruitment policy, which can sometimes be modified by the Executive Committee or the Management Committee.
  • The degree/maturity of digitalization: a recruitment process may not be 100% digitalized, it is destined to be transformed according to the new functionalities proposed by the editors as well as the trends or challenges of the recruitment business.
  • Company culture: recruiters use digital marketing or social recruiting tools that conform to the company’s culture.

From an organizational point of view, this strategy is often subject to discussion between several teams: General Management, Strategy, Organization, Management Control, HR and finally IT. Hence, the complexity of addressing the subject in a proactive and anticipatory manner with respect to the specific challenges of each business line in the company.

As for regulations, they vary according to the country or region of the world: for example, in terms of RGPD in Europe, or the use of temporary employment contracts in France.

And recruitment processes are far from being standardized compared to other HR functions such as Payroll or Interview Management.

Based on this observation, the Recruiter, the main actor in the BPO (Business process Owner), has a wide range of imagination to rethink or evolve its HR processes and practices, which sometimes go beyond the technical reality of the tool. When deploying or continuously improving a SaaS-based HRIS, the flexibility and adaptability of standard ATS (Applicant Tracking System) settings are put to the test in order to cover the company’s business specificities.

However, it is important to keep in mind that being able to configure everything is not necessarily good news for the recruiter, as it can generate complex or cumbersome processes in terms of daily use or maintenance, and scalability to integrate HR or company organizational changes over the long term. Sometimes, the only option, if not the easiest to implement, is for the company’s business processes to adapt to the tool’s uses in order to fit into the standard proposed by the editor.

Support for change is a key factor in the success of the project.

In this multi-parameter equation, we must not lose sight of the fact that the time spent on recruitment to publish an offer and close it, is a good indicator to measure the effectiveness of the recruiter’s activity.

To return to the subject of Strategy, we can categorize companies’ projected recruitment priorities in a HRIS on 3 levels:

  1. Simplification/standardization of processes and reduction of recruitment time, without much concern for the integration of new uses driven by technology.
  2. Attractive to implement market trending features (candidate matching/scoring, Chatbot, AI, Assessment Platform/Video Interview), while having complex or lengthy processes.
  3. Alliance between modernization of HR practices and simplification of processes.

To understand how an organization can find itself in one of these situations, it is necessary to analyze several factors that can sometimes be abstract or concrete. Based on my experience in Council, the organization of the company and the vision of the business are the most important factors in the life of the company that directly impact the recruitment process.

When an entrepreneur creates his company, he starts by building a small recruitment team, because a company in its early stages minimizes its costs related to support functions, and invests in the core business(R&D). In order to generate growth, the company aims to develop by defining a corporate strategy:

  • Expand its service offering to access new market segments;
  • Offer new services to diversify your business;
  • Acquire new companies;
  • Merge with other companies;
  • Etc.

This is necessarily accompanied by organizational changes, which can impact existing recruitment processes. Depending on its strategic priorities, the HRD is then led to either review the current recruitment process in order to plan an overhaul/improvement, or to leave it unchanged for various reasons.


Develop a collective awareness to better prepare for process improvement

Over the years, the recruitment process can either stagnate or evolve as a result of all the changes mentioned. It is therefore necessary to be aware of these changes in order to anticipate any evolution of the recruitment process, and to ensure that the transformation is as smooth as possible. Therefore, it is necessary to review the business processes, to trace their history in order to understand the existing, the evolution and to find an adapted solution for their transformation in the future. This can be a long process.

Indeed, HR business processes are often not designed/documented by companies: it does not necessarily fit into a business line, or simply no employee has been designated to perform this task. This is where the role of Consultants role is to accompany companies in this exercise.

Regardless of the decisions made by the HR department, I am firmly convinced that ” the more a company grows, the more it must think about simplifying its recruitment processes” . If this is not done at the right time, the company may have to manage several processes at the same time, or processes with a number of steps that do not allow for the desired time savings in an automated process, in this case Recruitment.

Often, during an HRIS deployment project, the approach is to go directly into the specifications to study the feasibility of business needs. This step is essential to define the scope of the project and therefore the budget, but it must be completed by taking a look at the tool and its features. While asking questions about the recruiter’s vision of the tool, his priority and his projection for the years to come, not only on his job but also on the organizational and strategic changes that may occur within his company.

In short, the deployment or change of an HRIS tool is a project in its own right, which must be anticipated, keeping in mind :

  • A clear vision of the organization over the next 5 years, the average lifespan of an IS being 5 years (e.g. change of management, company takeover, etc.).
  • Well-defined strategic priorities on the HR or IT side, depending on who is responsible for the HRIS project.
  • That this is a golden opportunity to review and improve your recruitment process.

With the pandemic, recruiting habits deserve to be challenged, especially for companies that had already fallen behind. Similarly, special attention must be given to the “external” dimension: employer brand, attractiveness of talents, technologies pushed by application management editors, etc.

It is also interesting to accelerate on Artificial Intelligence projects to improve Recruitment, which is only a marketing concept in 2022, while the back-office of the Recruitment process is not aligned with the current market, may prove to be a strategic mistake and will only delay the resolution of the real problems of “traditional” Recruitment.

If you would like to be supported in this process improvement and/or HRIS project implementation for the recruitment business, please do not hesitate to contact us

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