Anyone who has listened to the show, read any of my writing or seen me present this year will know that I firmly believe that technology-driven personalization is a forthcoming megatrend in talent acquisition.
Earlier in the year, it was a pleasure to speak about personalization at the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals Global TA Day conference. ATAP recorded the session, and I wanted to share it with you to wrap up Recruiting Future for 2022. So please listen on and learn more about how you can achieve Automated Human Centric Recruiting in 2023.
This is what I cover in the presentation:
• Why personalization is a TA megatrend
• The current poor state of personalization in recruiting
• Why, how and when
• The shift to automation
• RPA and data
• Automation + Quality Experience = Personalization
• Why should TA professionals care?
• Turning data into personalized experiences
• Adjusting content to context
• What is currently being personalized in TA?
• The split between robots and humans
• Relationship building and empathetic communication at scale
• Leveraging behavioural science
• A framework for storytelling
• Using personalization for competitive talent advantage
Podcast episodes mentioned in the presentation:
Seek Out (0s):
This episode is sponsored by Seek Out, the number one in talent intelligence and diversity recruiting software for enterprise companies.
Matt Alder (28s):
Hi there. This is Matt Alder. Welcome to Episode 489 of the Recruiting Future Podcast, and the last show of 2022. Anyone who has listened to the show, read any of my writing, or seen me present this year will know that I firmly believe that technology driven personalization is the forthcoming Megatrend in talent acquisition. Earlier in the year, it was a pleasure to speak about personalization at the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals’ Global TA Day conference. ATAP recorded the session and I wanted to share it with you to wrap up Recruiting Future for 2022.
Matt Alder (1m 15s):
Please, listen on and find out more about how you can achieve Automated Human-Centric Recruiting in 2023. Cool, so I’m gonna talk for the next half an hour or so about Personalization and why it is the Megatrend in Talent Acquisition. I’m sure that many of you like me, have received a message like this. This is a genuine LinkedIn message that I got a few months ago. “Hey insert name. Would you be open to connecting? I would love to have you as part of my network and I’m confident we can benefit from one another.
Matt Alder (1m 57s):
Talk soon.” Signed by that person. Now, this message really got me thinking about three things. First of all, unfortunately, for many people, for many candidates, this is the current state of personalization in talent acquisition. This is as good as it gets, but if we dig deeper into this message, there are actually two things going on that are both mistakes in personalization. The obvious one is the hey insert name. Now, that’s a technical error. That’s some software that’s gone wrong or something that someone’s configured in the wrong way, but actually I was much more interested in the message itself because the message tells me nothing. It doesn’t tell me why they wanna connect with me.
Matt Alder (2m 39s):
There’s nothing personal about it at all. I actually read past the hey first name because I thought, “You know what? This kind of thing happens,” but then the rest of the message, there was nothing in it for me. Unfortunately, in many cases, that’s where we are with personalization at the moment. To introduce myself, I’m Matt Alder. I am the host and the producer of the Recruiting Future Podcast. Recruiting Future publishes two episodes a week and I interview practitioners and thought leaders about what’s going on in the world of talent acquisition all over the world. I’m also the author of T book’s, exceptional Talent and Digital Talent. For the last year or so, I’ve been doing a very deep dive into personalization in Talent Acquisition to see what the issues are, to see what the benchmarks are, to see what people are doing, to see what the case studies are, and to see what’s going on.
Matt Alder (3m 33s):
Really, over the next 25 minutes, I wanna talk you through the why, the how, and the when in terms of personalization, and that’s really what this session is gonna be about. Before we do that, a little bit of context. Despite, my youthful looks, I’ve actually been in this industry a really long time. I stopped counting after 20 years because that seemed like the right thing to do, but over that last 20 years, we’ve seen some real shifts, technology-driven shifts in talent acquisition. Back in the late nineties, early two thousands, we all moved online, those of us who were working in talent acquisition at the time. Then about 5, 10 years after that, we got into this connected space with social media, mobile, internet, cloud computing.
Matt Alder (4m 17s):
Then most recently, I think we’ve been moving to what I would call intelligent recruiting, so artificial intelligence, data science, automation, and a real focus on experience. That’s where we are at the moment and I’m sure that many of the presentations and discussions today will be about some of those topics. I think we’re now moving into this personalized age of recruitment driven by technology, driven by things like RPA (Robotic Process Automation), driven by data, and driven by behavioural science.
Matt Alder (5m 2s):
I’m gonna talk about that in a second, but really, I wanna tee up this formula in terms of where my thinking is on this. I think where lots of people’s thinking is on this in terms of what is personalization and what do we get from it? Basically, the formula for me is automation plus experience. Lots of talk about automation in recruiting over the last few years and lots of interesting things happening with conversational AI, process automation, self-scheduling, and all these kind of things. If you add a high Quality Experience that automation, that’s where you get personalization.
Matt Alder (5m 41s):
Now, why should we care? Why should we care about this? The reason that we should care is that the practical output is automated human-centric recruitment. Who doesn’t want that? Let’s start with the why. Well, why is this important? Basically, for everyone who’s existing in the world at the moment, you’ll have noticed that personalization is everywhere. Countless organizations and companies are turning our personal data, are taking our data and turning it into a personalized experience. Here’s Spotify unwrapped is not my Spotify unwrapped. I don’t think Taylor Swift came top of my particular list, although I do quite like Wolfs BASB.
Matt Alder (6m 26s):
Basically, our data is being used to give us these kind of personalized experiences to say, “You know what? This is what you’ve listened to. This is what we’d like to recommend to you. When you are buying things online, it’s personalizing that experience to you. Personalization is absolutely everywhere and it’s incredibly important from a marketing perspective. Just some quick, very recent stats for you. 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences. 92% of marketers say customers and prospects expect a personalized experience, and that’s gone up from 85% just a few years ago.
Matt Alder (7m 8s):
This one I think is really interesting cause I think this really resonates with recruiting. 67% of consumers think it’s important for brands to automatically adjust content based on current context. When brands don’t adjust accordingly, 42% of consumers will get annoyed that the content isn’t personalized. A bit more about that later. How does this really fit in with where we are with recruiting? In the last two books that I’ve written, co-authored with my good friend, Marvin Denin, we looked at the sense of the Digital Talent journey that people go on and actually the employee experience and the candidate experience are joined up from the perspective of the person who’s experiencing them.
Matt Alder (7m 55s):
I think, really as an industry, that’s what we need to think about in terms of how we move people through the talent lifecycle and the experience that they have. Now, if we’re doing that at any kind of scale, it’s gonna involve automation. If you add a Quality Experience to that automation, that’s when you get these amazing benefits of personalization. The benefits I think are absolutely massive and speak to a lot of the strategic aims that you listening will have. Experience. It improves the candidate experience. It improves the recruiter experience. It improves the Hiring manager experience. It improves the speed and quality of talent acquisition.
Matt Alder (8m 38s):
It also improves the efficiency, and over time, it uses less resource. Obviously, these things take time and resource to set up, but once they’re running, optimizing, and moving forwards, it’s efficient and it saves resource. Who doesn’t want to be more efficient and save resource during the times that we are living through at the moment? That’s the why.
Seek Out (9m 2s):
A quick message from our sponsor, Seek Out. Seek Out is focused on helping organizations understand talent with dynamic and comprehensive data, powerful people search, and deep analytics. They offer actionable data and insights to unlock the potential of people. Seek out is dedicated to helping build a diverse and agile workforce for the future. Their technology is designed to help organizations build a culture of internal mobility and illuminate career paths for everyone. Book your demo today to see how Seek Out can help your company.
Seek Out (9m 41s):
Seekout.com, helping great people and companies grow brilliantly.
Matt Alder (9m 49s):
Let’s talk about the how. Now, I’ve only got 20 minutes left and I could talk about this for hours. This really is an overview. There may be areas that you want to hear about in more detail. You can reach out to me. There’s lots on the podcast and I’ll give you some pointers in terms of where you can go with this next, but let’s just look at the overview of the how. What can you personalize in talent acquisition? These are things that are already happening. There’s already technology and there are already employers who are doing a lot to personalize these particular experiences and processes within talent. Acquisition, recruitment, marketing, careers, websites, assessment and onboarding. Now, I’m sure many of you who are watching and listening will think of more or subsets of these where personalization is becoming a factor, but these are the ones where I’m seeing lots of interesting activity taking place.
Matt Alder (10m 41s):
Really, this comes down to a split between robots, technology, humans, people like you, talent acquisition professionals, and really personalization works when these two factors work together. From the robot technology side, that’s what runs the process. That’s what throws off the data. Also, that’s what provides the communication infrastructure for personalization. Now unfortunately, when we talk about personalization or even automation, that’s where the conversation tends to stop. We don’t talk about the human element. We might have a big argument about whether robots can replace recruiters and all those kind of things, but we don’t talk about how they work together or what the human element is.
Matt Alder (11m 27s):
Now, the human element of personalization is absolutely critical. It’s the relationship building and it’s the empathetic communication. Now, those of you who are recruiters, you do this every day. You do this every day with the candidates that you are working with. As an industry, we are brilliant at doing this on a one-to-one or one-to-few basis. What we are not so good at doing is doing this on a one-to-many basis. It’s interesting about. I’m gonna dig into empathetic communication as the focus of the next 10 minutes or so, but relationship building’s interesting because it’s like, “Well, how’d you build relationships at scale?”
Matt Alder (12m 9s):
That’s why we have something called Employer branding because branding is all about building relationships at scale. You can see all of these things come into personalization, and it’s really interesting how multifaceted it is if you are gonna deliver a strategy round personalization for your organization. I promise we dig a little bit deeper into empathetic communication. There’s two aspects that I just wanna touch on as part of this. The first one is behavioural science, and the second one, the related one, is storytelling. Back to the message from the beginning. As I said, the main thing that’s wrong with this message is the lack of empathy, the fact I don’t care about it, and just the fact it doesn’t speak to me in any kind of way.
Matt Alder (12m 58s):
Yes, it’s an extreme example, but I’m sure that many organizations will send communication out as part of their recruitment process, or a part of their sourcing process, or their recruitment marketing process that equally isn’t empathetic, doesn’t create an emotional connection, and doesn’t feel personalized. How could we change that? I’m very, very interested in behavioural science and it’s something that, again, I’ve been looking at for a number of years now. It really is the study of human behavior. Why do we do the things that we do? It’s becoming a bigger thread in marketing by the day. Marketers wanting to understand human behavior so they can sell people more things, but in TA we need to understand human behavior so we can convince people to join, stay, and perform at our organizations.
Matt Alder (13m 45s):
Behavioural science is the science that explains this. To give you a quick example of behavioural science, it’s the Uber map. Here we go. You open the app, you’re looking for a car. There are lots of little cars around you. Now, experience will tell us that actually none of these cars are gonna come and pick us up, but the fact that I can look at the map and there’s cars surrounding me is comforting. It makes me think, “You know what there’s availability. I’m gonna carry on with my booking.” That’s behavioural science in a nutshell. It’s not necessarily data driven or particularly logically accurate, but it’s that thing that’s prompting a reaction for me because I feel the comfort that if I order a car, one of these that’s just a couple of streets away is gonna turn up and pick me up.
Matt Alder (15m 1s):
Now, if you wanna know more about behavioural science, I can’t possibly go into it in five minutes, I would thoroughly recommend this episode of the podcast. It’s episode 375. You can find the Podcasts wherever you listen to your Podcasts. If you’re not an avid podcast listener, there’s a website, RecruitingFuture.com, and if you just put the episode numbers of the episodes that I quote into the search engine, it’ll bring up this episode. This is an interview that I did with last year with Rory Sutherland, who is the vice president of the marketing agency, Ogilvy. He’s also one of the world’s leading experts on behavioural science in business. I spoke to him for about half an hour and he came up with so many interesting thoughts and ideas around behavioural science, talent, and all these kind of things.
Matt Alder (15m 44s):
I think it’s perhaps a new discipline for this industry, but it’s something that we need to learn about because it’s all about that power persuasion and that power of personalization. Interestingly, this is a study that Ogilvy did looking at affinity at scale. It’s a slightly obtuse diagram, but basically, their strategy is to look at personalization via data. Okay, we have people’s data. We know what they do. We have their buying behavior. We know what they listen to on Spotify. We can create affinity and personalization using that data, but actually, we need human insights as well. Data doesn’t tell us everything, or the data could give us a very false impression about something, about someone. We need to know how they behave and what they really do and how they respond.
Matt Alder (16m 28s):
That’s where behavioural science comes in. Well worth checking out. The second aspect that I want to look into of this empathetic communication is storytelling. Now, it’s been an absolute delight to see over the last couple of years that storytelling has become such a big topic within the Employer brand and recruitment marketing world. That’s absolutely brilliant because I think if you go back three or four years, that absolutely wasn’t the case at all. What I think we need to think about in terms of our storytelling is actually what’s the strategy and what’s the structure that fits behind it? It’s all very well telling stories, but why are we telling them? How are we telling them? Are we telling them in a way that’s gonna give us the outcomes that we need through this empathetic communication.
Matt Alder (17m 9s):
My favorite quote on storytelling comes from a journalist and storytelling strategist, Shane Snow, who he’s actually been on podcast three times because I love his work so much. He specializes in storytelling for business. His quote is that great stories build relationships and they make people care. Again, it’s back to that building relationships at scale. How do you do that through automation? Well, you tell great stories that make people care about your organization and the role that you’re talking about. Now, what Shane does, which is brilliant, is he actually breaks down storytelling into four key areas. These are the areas to look for in business storytelling.
Matt Alder (17m 49s):
Relatability, is the story recognizable? Does it gather easy empathy? Is it something you look at and go, “Yeah, I can understand that.” Novelty, something not seen before. We are bombarded with messages and information. Actually novelty is the thing that makes your story stand out. It’s like, “You know what, I’ve looked at the recruitment websites for 10 different tech companies today, but actually, there’s something in this story on this website that’s so new, it’s gonna capture my attention and I’m gonna pay attention to the rest of it.” Fluency, easy for the audience to understand. We need to speak in the language of our audience. We don’t need to speak an internal jargon or phrases that very few people understand.
Matt Alder (18m 29s):
We need to talk in the tone and the vocabulary of the audience that we’re trying to talk to. Then finally, tension, the gap between what is and what could be. Anyone who’s watching a box set on Netflix or anything understands tension. Tension is what makes you tune in to the next episode or makes you not press the stop button and you end up sitting there all night watching your box set. I’m sure we’ve all done it. That’s tension. That’s dramatic tension and that’s a key part of storytelling and something that you can think of in a business perspective. Again, if you want to hear more on this, I did a recent interview with Shane about storytelling, and that’s episode 438. You can find that and listen to it. Finally, when are we gonna do this?
Matt Alder (19m 11s):
Well, to me, this is critically important and it’s not easy. It’s something that pretty much you need to dive into straight away. If you’re not looking at personalization as part of your strategy, you really need to because your competitors are, and that’s how they’re getting or they will get competitive advantage when it it comes to talent.
Matt Alder (20m 13s):
My advice is to literally dive right in and do this. Just some resources that might help in some case studies. Earlier this year, I did produce some really interesting content with Paradox about conversational AI. I spoke to, I think across these two episodes of the podcast, there’s about eight interviews with practitioners using various types of automation and personalization, and talking about the real world TA problems that it’s solving. If you wanna actually listen to case studies of people putting personalization into practice, and interestingly, they’re all very different because they all have very different challenges and they’re looking at very, very different things.
Matt Alder (20m 60s):
I’d really recommend listening to these two episodes. Just to recap, personalization is automated human-centric recruitment, and who doesn’t want that? My thanks to everyone at ATAP. You can check out their website and become a member by going to www.ATAPglobal.org. A huge thank you to you for supporting the podcast this year. It’s been amazing to see the lister numbers keep growing, hear your feedback, work with some brilliant sponsors, and interview some of the most fascinating people in our industry. If you’re interested in working with me in 2023, either by partnering with a podcast or engaging me as a speaker, please get in touch via [email protected].
Matt Alder (21m 46s):
You can subscribe to this podcast in Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or via your podcasting app of choice. Please also follow the show on Instagram. You can find us by searching for Recruiting Future. You can search all the past episodes at RecruitingFuture.com. On that site, you can also subscribe to the monthly newsletter, Recruiting Future Feast, and get the inside track about everything that’s coming up on the show. Thanks very much for listening. I’ll be back next year and I hope you’ll join me.