9 Ways to Reinvent Recruiting

By Amber Grewal

There are four things that concern me as a talent acquisition leader:

  • High performing employees are 800% more productive than average talent.
  • 82% of Fortune 500 executives don’t believe their companies recruit highly talented people.
  • In the U.S., there's an expected talent shortage of 23 million employees by 2020.
  • Based on the current pace of change, the gender gap will not close until 2186.

Reinventing the talent acquisition function is critical for organizations to close their skills gaps and sustain market advantage. This means upgrading the abilities of your recruiting team and giving them access to new technologies that can enhance their capabilities and experience, while reducing the amount of time they spend on administrative tasks.

At IBM, our HR function has been transforming in various phases for the past decade. We started with outsourcing, then moved to centralization, followed by optimization. Today, we are facing our biggest transformation to date: using artificial intelligence to deliver smarter outcomes. AI tools have allowed us to accelerate our efforts to improve the end-to-end process of our talent lifecycle, from attracting candidates and onboarding new hires, to retaining and growing our talent.

Below are nine ways IBM is reinventing recruiting:

#1 UPSKILL THE FUNCTION to differentiate with domain and organization capabilities

To support the changing needs of our business units and expectations of candidates, our recruiting teams are now focused on driving business value and outcomes, rather than acting as an administrative function to fill open requisitions.

#2 HORIZONTALLY SOURCE to build ready-now talent pipelines

Since many of IBM’s product and services lines have the same competitors, skills are no longer reserved for specific business units. They are viewed horizontally to support various verticals, as distinct lines of businesses seek analogous skills in Agile, AI, and cloud. IBM moved away from requisition-based sourcing and now focus on the commonality across all competencies within various domains, disciplines, and industries.

#3 WORK AGILE to increase speed and predictability

To utilize Agile effectively in a non-technical role, like recruiting, companies must incorporate agile methodologies into the DNA of the talent function. Working on an Agile talent team increases speed and predictability, prioritizes requisitions based on complexity and value, and sets timed sprints to manage the hiring process. This allows IBM talent teams to deliver solutions and outcomes to business stakeholders in faster, more impactful ways than ever before.

#4 CREATE A RECRUITING-FIRST CULTURE to support continuous hiring

Building a recruiting first culture at IBM means treating every candidate like a customer and empowering every employee to become talent ambassadors. It’s about crafting personalized, digital messages and engaging assets for our employees to share on their social networks. This creates an environment of employees who are more engaged and connected, which leads to increased retainment rates and higher quality talent.

#5 TRUST-BASED HIRING to create candidate pooling and optimize talent pipelines

In many organizations, skills that are in high demand causes teams to fight over the same talent pool, without taking the needs of candidates into consideration. IBM takes the opposite approach. Our trust-based hiring model looks at preferred skill profiles and showcases them under one job requisition, encompassing the demand across all business lines and filling the talent pipeline with quality and diversity. We then have subject matter experts form a central team of interviewers to help both the business and the candidate decide the ideal placement for the highest chance of success and contentment.

#6 PROACTIVELY SOURCE to increase passive hiring and instantly match for performance success

IBM Watson helps businesses make more-informed decisions. Within talent acquisition, Watson’s ability to proactively source and find applicants that match key success profiles (that may have been missed by recruiters) keeps the talent pipeline buzzing, resulting in an increase in diversity and inclusivity across our talent pool.

#7 COGNITIVELY ASSIST CANDIDATES to engage new prospects

Watson Candidate Assistant allows IBM to personalize a job seeker’s experience on our career site. With traditional job-matching sites, applicants find jobs based on skills they enter. In contrast, IBM’s site personally engages job seekers by asking questions to learn what’s most important to them in a job and company. So far, we have seen 86% of individuals engage with Watson and 35% more people apply for a job based on their interaction.

#8 PERSONALIZE OFFERS to enhance the candidate experience

With the understanding that every candidate is unique, we developed a personalized offer tool, infused with AI, to empower candidates to customize their benefits package based on their unique needs. When early professional hires receive an offer from IBM, a text message invites them to personalize their package. Through their mobile device, they can customize up to three benefits: up-front cash as a signing bonus, funding for learning grants, and deferred cash for their 401K.

#9 INTERVIEW WITH COGNITIVE to help hiring managers and candidates better prepare for interviews

Given the human element involved in the interview process, some hiring managers may display an unconscious bias in the questions they ask candidates, whether they realize it or not. To reduce this during live interviews and keep the focus on the quality of the candidate, Watson helps us continuously look for triggers and indicators that suggest performance success with the candidate, and provides the hiring manager questions to ask focused solely on the candidate’s experience and future potential at IBM.

I believe the roles of a talent team are even more critical to the success of a company in this digital era, especially with the rise of AI. In a recent Entelo report on recruiting trends, a whopping 62% of companies plan to invest in AI technology for recruiting purposes in 2018. To continue to grow in this function, we all must learn to harness technology to develop domain expertise, deepen candidate relationships, and be trusted advisors for the business.

At IBM, we are making big bets, experimenting often, and learning every step of the way as we transform our organization. Following these nine strategies, our efforts to reinvent recruiting have seen success so far, and we are excited to take them to the next level.