Only a week after heading to the Recruitment Agency Expo, the JobLookup team was back at London Olympia to check out this year’s In House Recruitment Expo. We saw some great talks and had some interesting chats with the exhibitors. Overall it was a very insightful experience, and we were especially excited to see the fact that many parts of the industry are increasingly embracing important values like diversity, empathy, and inclusion. Without further ado then, here’s a quick sum-up of some of our stand out exhibitors and seminars.
Around 16-19% of the UK working population is disabled, and while it’s not possible for all, many want to work in some capacity. More and more employers are also stepping up to provide these opportunities. Evenbreak is there to connect the two. It was great to chat with the team and find out more about how they’re matching often overlooked talent with major employers. They’ve already bagged a number of awards too, including being the most accessible job board in the UK.
AI, machine learning, blockchains. If you’re in the tech sector, or just interested in emerging technologies, you’ll already be familiar with these terms. WorksHub is an innovative way to connect skilled tech experts and software engineers with companies through specialist job boards, open-source problem solving, and software and tech-related discussion. It was great to see such an innovative solution that successfully bridges the gap for recruiters and HR teams, especially given the specialist nature of many tech roles.
The Future of Recruiting
Matt Bradburn from People Collective gave an excellent talk about the kind of things hiring managers and recruiters need to do to make sure they are following the demands of both changing business landscapes, and the shifting priorities and needs of employees and candidates.
Diversity and inclusion are key, for example, and there’s really no excuse for overlooking this when hiring in today’s landscape. There is, after all, mounting evidence that proves diverse teams are happier and more productive, and this generally translates into increased revenue. This was an interesting point: HR teams and hiring staff need to be able to ‘speak the language of the boardroom’ to director-level positions, in essence giving them quantifiable evidence that diversity decisions are also good business decisions.
Some of the other main points we took away were:
- Skills and education aren’t the be-all and end-all. They are often overvalued in fact. Matt argued that attitude and behaviour are much more important – having a motivated individual who might need some training is often going to work out better in the longterm than a highly-skilled candidate who couldn’t care less, for example.
- People are better at doing what they love. Find and develop strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses. Someone who hates dealing with spreadsheets will never be as good as someone who loves it, no matter how much training they are given.
- Job descriptions need to be much more targeted and interesting. Knowing how to attract the attention of the right candidate at this stage will make the whole process much more fluid.
- Are you sure you’re asking the right questions in interviews? Are there better ways HR and recruitment staff could be interviewing and assessing potential candidates? Looking for someone who can add to company culture rather than simply fit in with it is more important in the long term.
The Diversity Dividend
A highly entertaining and impactful talk by Toby Mildon from Mildon Consulting, about how diversity and inclusion can be implemented in a way that makes lasting change, rather than simply as a box-ticking exercise.
Focusing on getting diversity and inclusion into the very fabric of a business is key, and this isn’t just HR’s responsibility – the entire organisation needs to be on board. It’s also important to remember, as Toby pointed out, that diversity includes everyone – an often overlooked yet extremely salient point. One problem organisations often faced, according to Toby’s experience, is a lack of engagement from senior positions. This can often roadblock HR departments, and is generally caused by a failure to link diversity to business goals.
Job advert language came into focus (again), and HR teams and recruiters need to ensure they are thinking about how to make job adverts as inclusive as possible. Even simple things like making it clear that a worksite is disability-friendly can go a long way to attracting a greater range of candidates.
The talk touched on the dangers of AI in recruiting, including the potential for inherent bias against certain groups. Toby also called out the fact that just because an organisation has won awards for diversity, it isn’t necessarily indicative of real cultural change. Very often, organisations simply take the steps necessary to get a good assessment from an awarding body – slipping back into their old way of operating once the celebrations are over. The short term perception gains ultimately mean nothing without lasting implementation, of course.
The impact of technology and the digital space on HR and recruiting has certainly been massive, and Resource Solutions’ Tom Lakin took us through some of the best and most interesting tech that he and his team have recommended to clients, or use themselves.
He highlighted the importance of ethics in recruitment tech too, and how both HR professionals and recruiters should always make sure to keep an eye out for products that aren’t operating in an ethical way. Facebook ads are one example, as is Amazon’s recent AI hiring systems, which were excluding CVs that mentioned the word ‘women’ or ‘woman’. That said, rather interestingly, the Amazon AI was still found to be less biased than a human recruiter. Food for thought. It certainly does highlight the need to thoroughly vet any software or AI hiring solutions that you might be considering, however.
Once again, bad job descriptions were highlighted as a major block for hiring the right candidates, especially when used in conjunction with AI and chatbots. As these solutions become more common, making sure a job description is clear, has the right keywords, and is coherent will make all the difference in allowing automated systems to accurately target the right candidates.
It was also interesting to hear Tom point out the current limitations in chatbots and AI. Free text chatbots aren’t particularly effective for example, but tree-based dialogue bots can be effective at candidate screening, or for FAQ purposes. In terms of AI, bias was highlighted as a key problem area once again.
Neurodiversity at Work
We really enjoyed this engaging and passionate talk by Theo Smith from NICE about neurodiversity at work. It was inspiring to learn that the UK is currently leading the way in neurodiverse hiring, but the reality is that many of us still aren’t familiar with what neurodiversity is, or how we can attract and retain neurodiverse talent when hiring.
More often than not, the standard hiring processes we tend to employ will exclude neurodiverse people. An autistic candidate, for example, will probably miss social cues and come across as obtuse, when they might in fact be ideal for the job. An interesting fact mentioned by Theo was that as humans, we categorise people in 150ms, and completely judge their character in 30 minutes. It’s pretty easy to agree that this is not a good way to approach hiring scenarios, especially given the fact there are so many options and tools available today to assess candidates far more accurately.
Given that 84% of the autistic people in the UK want to work, and that these people are often exceptional at certain tasks, we can see why not engaging them (and other neurodiverse people) is a massive missed opportunity for both UK businesses and neurodiverse people. On a related note, Theo pointed out that around 50% of the people in Britain’s prisons are neurodiverse, and that it could be an even higher percentage than this.
Clearly, this is an area that we need to engage with as part of the bigger picture as well. Hiring neurodiverse people is a great way to start.
Overall then, some very valuable and forward-thinking speakers and businesses were shocased at this event. Interestingly, we’re seeing the same themes pop up time and time again as well, so if there are a few key points to take away it’s that:
- Traditional recruiting practices are missing talent. They’re outdated and need to change.
- Job adverts really (really) need to improve.
- Diversity and inclusion benefits everyone from employees to the bottom line.
- Senior management needs to listen to their HR teams and help enable positive change.
- Organisations need to avoid siloing their HR departments, and work as one unified body.
See you next year!