Using technology to move forward together

Using technology to move forward together

With 2024 comes new opportunities for UK recruitment agencies to embrace innovation and navigate the evolving job market landscape. While many are optimistic about the year ahead, with over half of recruitment agencies predicting a revenue increase*,  some of the challenges of 2023 remain, including a tight labour market and increased competition from gig platforms and freelancers. For firms that want to maintain a competitive edge, having a solid technology strategy—one that makes the most of automation and AI to optimise productivity and efficiency—will be essential.

At Bullhorn’s 2024 London Roadshow, James Osborne, Co-founder of The Recruitment Network, sat down with three Bullhorn customers for a conversation about how they’re using technology to address their firms’ top challenges and priorities. 

Glenn Southam is VP of Insights, Success and Marketing at Meet Recruitment; Matthew Banbury is Recruitment Operations Director at Pioneer Selection; and Louise Williams is Managing Director at Fraser Dove. Below is a recap of their conversation. 

The importance of defining the “why” 

James Osborne’s organisation, The Recruitment Network, advises and mentors hundreds of recruitment organisations, giving him a bird’s eye view of the industry. What he noticed in 2023 echoed the findings of our latest GRID Trends report: top recruitment companies responded to the challenging environment by leaning into automation and AI. “A lot of really good recruitment companies are now super optimised,” he said, “which means they’re really increasing their productivity, their performance, their capacity.” 

Osborne is a true believer in the power of technology to effect this kind of change. “If you get your technology strategy correct,” he said, “I think absolutely you can find an extra 25% more capacity in what your recruiters are doing. I think you can 10 times amplify your inbound and outbound reach.” But some companies, he noted, have rushed to bolt new technology onto their stacks without fully understanding why they’re doing it or how to properly use it to fulfil their business goals. 

Glenn Southam of Meet Recruitment echoed this sentiment. “Ultimately, if you’re not embracing technology, you’re going to get left behind,” he said. “But you’ll still get left behind if you embrace technology and you don’t know why you’re doing it.” He said that companies need to look at what they want to accomplish over the next twelve to eighteen months and beyond—whether it’s increasing repeat business, boosting overall profit, or other goals—and then look at how technology can help them create value in those areas. 

Louise Williams of Fraser Dove agreed. “You have to be looking at the advantages that the system has, how you’re aligning that to a vision,” she said, adding: “Consistently reviewing the technology that you’ve got and ensuring that it’s innovative will put you ahead of the game.”

Using automation to save time and enhance brand reputation

For Fraser Dove, the goal of adding Bullhorn Automation and Analytics was to generate more leads and win more business. Increasing efficiency is a fundamental part of that, Williams explained, and an area where they’ve seen impressive results. “In the last month alone, we’ve put in 89,000 automation actions…which has saved us nearly 3,000 hours. The number of working hours in a single month is 174, so that’s a lot of time.”  

Pioneer Selection has also achieved massive time savings. Matthew Banbury explained that the firm took a close look at the amount of time being spent on manual work, like responding to emails to formatting CVs, and found that recruiters were spending nearly half of their time on these tasks. Getting automation on board allowed the company to strip a huge amount of that time out of their recruiters’ weekly work. “Really, our goal and our mantra,” said Banbury, “was to have humans doing human things and have tech do all the basic stuff.”

With more time, recruiters can also do more to bolster the reputation of the business and even the industry, as Southam pointed out. “We’ve got to really push our consultants to be more community-led, values-led and focus on building relationships and building reputation,” he said. “You can use automation to build a community around your brand.” 

Yet another advantage to bringing tech on board? Hiring and retaining talent: “If someone was using automation at another job,” Banbury noted, “and they come into [your agency], and you’ve still got your roller deck and your filing cabinet, you’re probably going to struggle to get them on board and retain them.” 

Creating a better, more seamless client and candidate experience 

It’s not only recruiters who benefit from technological innovation. Clients stand to gain as well. Pioneer Selection, for example, is using automation to regularly showcase talent to clients and prospects, automatically surfacing a selection of candidates they know the client has looked at in the past or that they think they might be interested in. “It’s a no-human-cost solution that’s just constantly reaching out, contacting companies on a regular basis and providing us some inbound leads,” said Banbury.

Another major upside of automation is that it makes it easier for firms to proactively reach out to the right candidates at the right time, whether to share the details of new listings with job seekers or to periodically check in with contractors, including those reaching the end of an assignment. Meet Recruitment has had great success in this area, according to Southam: 

“We’re creating those touchpoints with contractors on much more regular occasions, checking in with them, understanding if their contract is likely to be extended, whether they’ve asked their manager. We’ve probably impacted our contractor redeployment rate over a six-month period by two or three percent. Across 500 contractors, that’s a significant amount.”

Getting recruiters on board and excited

Osborne pointed out that for some recruiters, there may be a “fear factor” around automation—a fear that their jobs might become obsolete and that they may not have the right skill sets for the future. Given this, he asked, how can firms get recruiters to embrace this automation journey?

To Southam, it comes back to understanding what successful use of technology looks like. “What are the milestones that you need to reach, and what are the timescales that you need to reach them by? And ultimately, at the consultant level, how’s it going to benefit them? How’s it going to make their life easier?” When you have that information, he said, you can get people on board, and then you can start celebrating the wins.

Banbury agreed, adding that having a few champions of the new technology in the office—high performers, influencers, and people who others respect—can go a long way towards getting buy-in. 

Williams added that being able to quantify the potential financial gain to recruiters is also essential. “What consultants really want to know is how many client development calls they’ve got to make a week that will roughly convert into a pitch that will convert into a job, and that will then place a job. It’s all of those statistics and that magic formula that people are going to want to know.” 

Turning data into actionable insights

Throughout the conversation, the panellists pointed to the ways they’re using Bullhorn Analytics, particularly with regard to business development. At Pioneer Selection, Banbury explained, they analyse how long they spend with various clients, identifying the ones with whom they have especially high efficiency or fill rate, so they can double down on their efforts with those clients.  

Meet Recruitment is using Bullhorn Analytics, cross-layered with LinkedIn Talent Insights and other sources, to identify clients that may be ready to hire based on a number of metrics. “Understanding both our internal activity and what’s happened externally at a macro level of our clients is driving more targeted conversations,” Southam said. 

Fraser Dove, meanwhile, uses Analytics to improve its CV-to-interview conversion ratios and other KPIs, including the growth of key accounts over time. “Bullhorn is a great product,” said Williams. “And it’s what you do with the data that allows you to maximise from a profit perspective.” 

*Source: Bullhorn 2024 GRID Industry Trends Report

Ready to hear more insights on the trends shaping recruitment in 2024? Join us at our Roadshows in Rotterdam and Germany!

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