The recruitment and staffing sector has been badly let down – or certainly ignored – in terms of technological advancement. For an industry that has been around for a very long time (Agencies have been recruiting professional candidates for clients since the late sixties) it has not seen the significant disruption that one might have expected, compared to sectors such as retail for example.
Surely there has been some disruption?
Of course we have seen some huge changes since those early days – many of which were said to have “spelt the end” for recruitment companies according to industry observers. The advent of the internet was the most impactful as you would expect, enabling companies to make it known they were hiring and publishing their contact details for prospective employees to get in touch directly. Some did, but not many. Risking rejection, or worse being found out by your current employer meant that a having third party intermediate and advisor was still a prudent strategy.
Job boards and aggregators added another dimension, enabling employers to advertise their positions direct at a more cost effective alternative to print and again threatening to cut out the “middle man” but not entirely succeeding. Then along came LinkedIn, for the first time giving candidates the platform on which to advertise themselves, to make it known they might be interested in a change of job and use their network to unearth the unadvertised positions. Nowadays, we have platforms for “hot Naija Jobs” projects, jobs and interim services
Face to face is best – for now
In reality though, recruitment is a professional service which relies heavily on relationships built over time. Up until now, there hasn’t really been any technology that fundamentally changes how that happens. Understanding human needs – still essential for effectively matching a person to a role – really has to be done face to face. In a recent article Hays’ CEO Alistair Cox talked about "Why I think face to face is best "which clearly articulates the arguments that sitting around the table rather than on a phone or video call is the right strategy. For now.
So what’s the big change?
The recent release of Oculus Rift promises to bring augmented or virtual reality into our everyday lives, by “making it possible to experience anything, anywhere, through the power of virtual reality”. On first view, the implications for industries such as recruitment may seem obscure, after all video conferencing hasn’t surpassed face to face. But couple the availability of virtual reality with Microsoft’s “HoloLens Holoportation” and quantum computing, then fast forward to 2020 - suddenly the possibilities become clear.
So, the future is…..
Imagine, as explained by Microsoft’s research manager Shahram Izadi, “being able to virtually teleport from one place to another” where interviews are conducted in virtual rooms, company research is done in an “online reception”, an employer brand could be understood by talking to employees at their desks (“what is it really like to work here?”) and even on boarding or one to one training for an employee thousands of miles away becomes possible.
This is just the beginning. A second or third generation release can’t be far away – it will be to communications as the smartphone was to mobile and broadband was to the Internet (versus dial up ... remember that?)