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Bullhorn Live Day One Recap

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The first day at Bullhorn Live was a blast! If you missed any of today’s keynotes or sessions, keep reading for a recap of the big ideas from day one.

Threats and Opportunities to Recruitment Companies-3 Questions to Ask Yourself

Art Papas, Bullhorn’s CEO, presented the keynote and asked the audience some questions to help attendees highlight threats and opportunities to recruitment agencies. The audience was asked to text in their answers.

  1. Build or Buy – Do you build your organisation organically or conduct an M&A strategy? What is clear is that both require a different focus than the leadership team and trying to do both will result in diluted results, when compared with those businesses that focus on just one. Fifty-nine percent say they will Build and 41% say they will Buy.
  2. Friend or Foe – Is the rise of staffing platforms, like Fiverr and Upwork, who offer low cost and flexible labour, a threat to traditional recruitment agencies? Upwork sales hit $1billion last year. This would make it one of the top 25 recruitment companies in the UK.  The workforce is no longer restricted to being local. These platforms enable a global workforce and they are growing rapidly because they offer a lower cost to the end client as well as convenience for both the candidate and client, with a lot of the transaction automated. Seventy-eight percent of people said they were a Friend and 22% are a Foe. it will be interesting to see how recruitment agencies will engage with these platforms in the future.
  3. Promote or Replace – Automation is a key technological driver to improving user experience and driving down cost. An example of this is the application process. Some agencies are using Chatbots to conduct the initial screening process. These are quick and the candidate gets an instant response, compared with current methods where applications are sometimes not even responded to. The question asked the audience to challenge their views of whether they would promote their employees or replace them as more and more automation is introduced into the recruitment life cycle.  Seventy-six percent said they would Promote and 24% said they would Replace. There is some research that suggests 65% of primary school children will be doing jobs that haven’t been created yet.

Executive Panel: Growth in the New Relationship Economy

Peter Linas, Bullhorn’s International Managing Director, lead a panel of seasoned recruitment executives in discussing how to navigate challenges such as Brexit, GDPR, and the advent of artificial intelligence and turn these profound movements into competitive advantages.

Peter Linas ran a panel to explore the New Relationship Economy and asked a number of questions:

What are the challenges we face in the rec industry?

How is technology innovation, for example, AI going to affect recruiting?

What are the issues/opportunities with GDPR?

What are the challenges we face in the recruitment industry?

Ejaz Ali from Kelly Group suggested that the challenge currently is to demonstrate differentiation and create loyalty. He said, “recruitment has become commoditized”.  Lots of recruitment technology which is accessible by internal recruiting teams, as well as staffing firms, coupled with a decrease in average fees means that recruiters need to differentiate themselves.  

“We need to have an authentic relationship with customers.  You need to give them an experience that they want to have.”

Darren Weeks from aap3 told us that the challenge is how his business works with customers. They are working with customers to help them understand their approach and process.  He said that customers have so much choice on what they do and how they do it. “The key is to help your customer understand you.”

Dennis van Weeran from Vibe caught everyone’s attention with the statement, “The biggest challenge is getting recruiters to use the phone more effectively… It’s still a people game”.

Peter Linas: “I think that we should use technology to help our recruiters to spend more time on the phone.”

How can we create more loyalty?

Bradley Lewington of Spencer Ogden talked about “making relationships sticky”.

“As a recruitment company, you need to be thinking about what you are offering your candidates. What can you offer to make clients’ lives easier?  How can you help them speed up their recruitment process?”  And he talked about how it’s crucial to think about what would make it easier for you to make your staff’s jobs easier.

Is Technology Replacing Recruiters?

How did the panel feel about the notion of tech and robots replacing recruiters? They all agreed, with lots of nods from the audience, that technology should help enable recruiters. It should help, for example, recruiters to get on the phone more and meet with their clients.  The relationship economy needs recruiters to build relationships, and humans, coupled with innovative tech, are needed for this vital process.

Peter: “Technology is an accelerator, not a replacer”

Considering that so much of a recruiter’s day is around phone time, it was interesting to see that very few recruiters are currently integrating telephony with CRM – but this is a crucial process enabler.

Too Much Tech and not Enough Process?

Darren admitted that a company they had looked at too much tech.  It’s become too easy to send a message rather than pick up the phone. He is excited about addressing this.

Pete Linas: “The biggest danger is that we allow people to immerse themselves behind their screens – we can’t allow that.”

What are the issues/opportunities with GDPR?

The panel agreed that GDPR is nothing new – it’s an extension of ICO and a great opportunity to work toward the relationship economy.

Darren Weeks: “GDPR is a big thing, but it is there for a good reason. But, for recruiters who are doing things properly it is not a threat.”

Dennis: “GDPR is a great opportunity, and now there is a better reason to put people on our systems.”

Bradley: “It’s about looking for the opportunities that GDPR will create”

Ejaz: “Gone are the days when people want to boast about the size of their database…This is an opportunity to clean things up.”


Relationship with Data: Mythbusting GDPR and Compliance

Garreth Cameron, ICO, gave an engaging talk on how the ICO will be the UK’s supervisory auth under the GDPR.

Recruiters need to be able to demonstrate that they use people’s data appropriately and fairly.  Data can do great good. It can help develop societies and help organisations make good decisions and help economies grow.

“Recruitment is about relationships, and increasingly about data. Data is the key to business success.”

As the digital space has matured in the last 20 years, so has the need for recruiters to mature their data collection and processing transparency.

According to Garreth, only 1 in 5 UK adults trust people with their data.  This has massive repercussions for recruiters.  If only 1 in 5 people on their CRM and mailshot databases are trusting, then what does this mean for recruiters from May 2018?

Transparency and accountability is key.

Key GDPR Steps for Recruiters

He gave some practical tips to help recruiters focus on the next few months of planning for GDPR:

  • Understand what is going on in your business
  • Understand what information you have and what you are holding and your storage/processing policies.
  • Communicate to your “subjects” (candidates and clients). “If you want to derive value from GDPR, think about how you can go further than simply the GDPR legislation.”
  • Understand what your legal justification is for processing others’ data.
  • Do you transfer data overseas?  If you do, research what the recipients of that data have as their policies and procedures.

Typical GDPR Myths:

Don’t misunderstand data protection!

  1. Myth One: Consent is not a silver bullet.  If someone consents to you storing their data what does this give you permission to do?
  2. Myth Two: The ICO is waiting for 25 May and then they will unleash hell and fine everyone 4% of your global turnover and destroy the market!  No! Garreth assured the audience that they will not do this.  Enforcement action is expensive and time-consuming.  They prefer to help organisations get it right.
  3. Myth Three: There is a grace period for GDPR.  There is not a grace period.
  4. Myth Four: There is no GDPR guidance.  There is plenty of guidance.  They have 90 pieces of guidance to help businesses and use social media and newsletters to keep organisations informed. 

CEO Fireside Chat

The recruitment industry is at a turning point, with agency leaders inundated by major shifts in the market. From growth strategies to the rise of online recruitment platforms to automation and both internal and external corporate culture changes, there is a lot of uncertainty with which to grapple in today’s New Relationship Economy. Bullhorn CEO Art Papas interviewed legendary recruitment industry leader Peter Searle, CEO of Airswift and former Group Managing Director at Adecco. Peter has twenty years of insight on growing recruitment businesses, staying globally competitive, and navigating change. 

Art asked Peter, “What is most important for navigating the massive amount of change required in a business to drive productivity and efficiency?”

Peter Searle, AirSwift, explains that there are two sides to successful change management – process and culture – and both are equally important.

His ‘favourite’, however, is culture: “a culture of change needs to be embedded in the company – employees need to feel empowered, not driven by, change.”

But what about when that change involves mergers and acquisitions? “Business change can be traumatic,” says Peter, “getting the staff to buy into the project is crucial. Empower people to see that change is an opportunity, not a threat.”

How do you reduce the trauma of change? Staffs need to see the endpoint of the merger so they understand the business goals, and where they sit within it. If people feel too much trauma, they are likely to leave.

Art Papas suggested that merging with another business gives “a real opportunity to study the effectiveness of the leadership”. Businesses merging gives a great opportunity to study the talent and workforce, in general, explained Peter. But imagine if you could double the effectiveness of your leadership team through a merger and acquisition!

What are the final tips Peter and Art had for the audience in managing big business changes?

  • Never use the term takeover – it’s a merger.
  • Empowerment – go from the bottom up. Influence in teams. “As the CEO I couldn’t make change happen, but my PA who’d been there fifteen years could make anything happen.”
  • There will always be some casualties during mergers/ times of big change. Aim to reduce the casualties.
  • Every member of the company has to feel involved in the merger. Change process doesn’t happen overnight if it does you’ll lose people because it’s traumatic.

Vision for Innovation

Bullhorn’s Matt Fischer unveiled his 2018 vision of innovation to a packed room of Bullhorn users.

What has his team delivered? Speed and Improved UX!

Novo has been well received and rollout will complete in the next 6 – 9 months.  Along with a change in the information architecture, users are now able to personalise their menu page.  Faster Find now includes previous searched records.  Canvas, tabs and notes are improved. Parsing is now in 40 languages and all character sets are supported – Bullhorn is truly global. He’s excited about the launch of the native mobile application which can be downloaded from app stores in Q1 2018.

So, what is the 2018 roadmap?

It’s time for Bullhorn to get (even more!) smart!  Here are some tasters!

  1. How about automatically adding a person to one of your tearsheets as you parse them into Bullhorn, based on matching criteria? I.e., you have a tear sheet based on specific Job Descriptions or where a group lives in a specific region.
  2. Candidates will be able to apply directly to a job within Bullhorn. Using the Candidate portal will enhance the user experience and speed up the recruitment life cycle. Jobs can be marketed out to your candidates (clearing adhering to GDPR) and candidates can log in to their Bullhorn Portal, update their details and apply to the job.
  3. Qualifications or Knock Out Questions will help streamline the application process, weeding out unsuitable applicants. Think killer questions that you can use in Job Boards.
  4. Bullhorn Boost – AI is coming! Boost will improve the relevance of the search results by reviewing the profile of successfully placed candidates to similar roles and comparing them to your search results. Better candidates will be placed at the top of your search results.
  5. How about we tackle user adoption? Let’s find out why users are exiting the system – what jobs are they doing?
    1. Lots of recruiters leave Bullhorn to go into Outlook to manage interviews! Hence Bullhorn Planner will improve interview management and will allow you to show the data in Month, Week, Day and List views.
    2. Users won’t need to leave Bullhorn for CV editing. Edit Resume from with Bullhorn using Document Editor.
  6. Time and Expense capabilities are available in the USA through Bullhorn Back Office. This is being internationalised for UK and mainland EU.
  7. Canvas will be improved and now allow you to include financial information.  It will also allow multiple rates to be added to a vacancy so you no longer need to create multiple jobs where different rates are needed.
  8. Credential and certification will be improved through a new module that will useful for healthcare providers.  The ability to merge multiple documents together and stitch them into a single PDF will improve recruiter efficiency.

What’s “Cleo” Got to do with Bullhorn?

“Alexa” for Bullhorn is coming. “Cleo” will allow you to set reminders, create tasks, make calls, and more. This will be even more powerful when used in conjunction with Bullhorn’s native app. Some of the many possibilities:

  • “OK Cleo, call John Denver”
  • “Remind me to call John Smith at 4 pm tomorrow”
  • “When was the last time I spoke to Phil West?”

Recruitment Economy Trends Discussion

Today’s economic environment is a profound departure for global recruitment firms, and navigating a multitude of micro and macroeconomic challenges is at the forefront of ensuring continued growth in the New Relationship Economy. Gordon Burnes, Chief Marketing Officer at Bullhorn, questioned a panel of industry leaders about economic trends shaping recruitment both now and in the future.

How has the UK Market Been Impacted by Brexit?

The panel agreed that the UK market has seen low impact from Brexit (currently), but they admitted that there is uncertainty.

John: “When  you have uncertainty, this is good for temp staffing, bit for perm staffing this is not so good.”

Samantha: Free movement of labour is a concern and there is a lot of uncertainty, worldwide as well as in the UK.  We have had a huge amount of legislation hitting the UK market in recent years.

Deedee: It’s not what’s happening here and now.  Recruiters are wondering about the future.  They are uncertain.  We do see recruiters opening on the continent and Ireland to get ahead of the game so that they will have some access to the new market.

“There needs to be a paradigm shift in recruiters and employers – disabled people, older people, candidates of choice. These populations, like any other, have a lot to offer.  I think that the UK needs to look at better development of these potential workforces.”

Deedee commented that many young people in the UK are not “work-ready”.  One tradition that the US has which it can offer the UK is the tradition of having the after-school job.  It is not as prominent in the UK as in the US.  There needs to be a shift in supporting young people to have those jobs to get them trained and ready to enter the workforce.

What do recruiters need to do with current economic trends?

John: Staffing companies need to adapt and develop to the new technologies and flexi-working, especially to capitalise on stay at home workers.

Samantha is worried about the focus on the gig economy.  “A number of discussions and recommendations are being considered by the government, some of which could have an unintended impact on the gig economy which has been running effectively for a very long time.”

Skills and development – how can we improve?

John felt that staffing firms need to get much more involved in training to enable them to be competitive.  He talked about examples in the US where they have coding boot camps. This is a big development in the sector.  

Samantha agreed that staffing firms need to be more innovative and add value to the candidate, especially in this candidate driven market.

“APSCo members tell us that their clients are taking recruitment in-house.  Perhaps they are right to do this?  Can they do their own recruitment?  Recruitment firms have the opportunity to unwrap their end to end service and focus on certain parts of the recruitment chain and specialize in certain areas.”

What will change in recruitment?

Sam: Flexibility and adversity will increase.  The rise in “self-employment” will increase. Recruiters need to specialise more and offer more value to stay in the market.

Deedee agreed but wondered if the practice of recruitment really won’t change.  But for example, it’s more about the “how” we recruit.  Will we use AI for facial recognition? Because of world conditions, will we get better at catering for people working away from the office?


Power of Me: Why Diversity Is Essential in Recruitment

Long underrepresented at recruitment agencies despite being prioritised by clients and candidates alike, diversity is no longer some far-off goal that firms should aim to eventually pursue. Internal and candidate diversity are not only essential for recruitment agency success – at this point, any firm not embracing a comprehensive diversity and inclusion program has relegated itself to be completely left behind competitively. 

What does it mean to have a diverse workforce in 2017? Joanna Abeyie suggests that diversity is “less about protected characteristics and people, more about creating a workforce where people feel comfortable being themselves”. However, Yvette noted that people often want immediate change where diversity and equality are concerned, but it’s a “steady journey” rather than instant results. But what are the commercial benefits of a diversity driven culture?

Charlotte Clarke explained that, for businesses, a diverse mix of backgrounds and experiences brings with it a diverse mix of ideas and opinions that are essential for innovation. Although she asserts, it’s about “wanting to be diverse, not just wanting to look good”. Authenticity is important in the new relationship economy we find ourselves working in.

The idea of developing a diverse workforce can be daunting for business leaders – giving them the ‘fear’ as our panel describe it. There’s a need for re-education and awareness to help businesses develop a culture of support and diversity that allows employees to perform at their best. They suggest that an inclusive onboarding process, an open, feedback-orientated company, and dedication to training are key for any business leader looking to overcome this ‘fear of diversity’.

Joanna suggests that diversity can be reduced down to much simpler ideas, asking if businesses are doing enough to make their employees comfortable in their own skin, regardless of gender, disability, sexual orientation or race.

If you’re leading a diverse team – do you encourage people to be themselves, and feel okay with themselves? That’s diversity.Joanna Abeyie

The panel was asked about the barriers to diversity and inclusion in the recruitment industry today. Charlotte believes that the recruitment industry is a little behind on helping women return to work after having a child, revealing that there’s a fear that giving a few people flexibility on working hours would result in everyone wanting these new hours. “Why is that a fear anyway?” she asks.

Indeed most businesses are adopting flexible working hours and remote working, understanding that these new working practises are vital to stay ahead of the competition.

So what are some practical steps recruitment leaders – and businesses in general – can take to make their hiring processes more inclusive?

“Blind CVs have been a massive eye-opener” reveals Yvette. “We wanted to ensure there was no unconscious bias and it made a big impact. We’ve also utilised this with our clients and there’s been lots of positive feedback.”

Blind CVs aren’t the only solution, warns Joanna, “blind CVs need to be accompanied by a diverse interview panel – or you simply delay the bias”.

“It’s about asking why,” says Charlotte, “Ask challenging questions, facilitate good conversations and consult with clients to get the best outcome”.

“Everyone is prejudiced based on their own experiences, thoughts, and feelings. It’s when people challenge them that we can stop, think and address them.”


About Lisa: Lisa Jones helps recruitment leaders, IT leaders and recruitment marketers to set ROI-led goals and use recruitment technology and digital marketing strategically. ROI is key! She’s a keen technology strategist and recruitment advocate. She’s passionate about making a difference to recruiting firms. As a founder of Barclay Jones, Lisa brings a wealth of experience in recruitment technology and digital marketing. Clients love her passionate, strategic and impartial advice and how she challenges their processes and helps them to grow their businesses. She is UK Recruiter’s “Agency Influencer” 2017.