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The rise of RecOps

Hiring tips
Luke Shipley

Luke Shipley

26th March 2019

You can run a good recruitment team with tactics. You can run a great recruitment team with strategy. In early 2019 the zeitgeist is pointing us firmly in the direction of doing more with less, and RecOps can help us to do just this. By taking a step back from the daily grind of ‘Find, Recruit, Hire, Repeat’, ‘Find, Recruit, Hire, Repeat’. RecOps can be used to spot bottlenecks and inefficiencies and in time, make everyone’s lives run more smoothly.

With RecOps meaning different things to different organisations, it can be hard to put boundaries around a role with such potential and breadth. For the role to be effective and have impact, this is exactly what we must do.

Hang on, RecOps? Also referred to by it’s more popular sister term TalentOps but not to be confused by its brother term PeopleOps — what is it?

Greenhouse defines ‘Recruitment Operations’ as a set of recruiting activities and processes that help a talent acquisition organisation run effectively, efficiently and in support of hiring strategies and objectives. In short, RecOps reduces friction in the recruiting process.

This helps, but it is still pretty broad, it’s probably in the spec for almost every talent leaders role. My advice to anyone working in this function is to be extremely clear on what is expected from the role in the context of YOUR organisation. Naturally RecOps tends to become an independent role in organisations that have mature people functions. One of the key differences in the teams I have seen — in these mature setups is that RecOps doesn’t carry headcount. The RecOps role no longer is responsible for hiring, it’s becoming a specialist field. Whilst talent leadership does often ask for Recruitment Operations skills, Recruitment Operations doesn’t necessarily require Talent Leadership skills. It demands a different skillset and that is often affirmed by the broader set of backgrounds that feed into Recruitment Operations roles (PM, Dev, Office Manager, Support, Marketer & strangely — Recruiter). The paradigm varies from office administration in incumbents to highly technical work configuring systems and manipulating data sets in modern people functions. This is our assessment…

RecOps assesment Zinc

TL:DR Recruitment Operations is becoming a specialist field in some organisations we believe it’s demanding more technical skills. Technical administration skills and data management. Meaning interview and attraction skills are no longer imperative.

Strangely, the portmanteau addition to recruiting titles rose to popularity around a similar time that the DevOps, SysOps, SecOps titles emerged out of System Administrators. A term born out of agile leaders blue sky session to squash everything into one role. Again, wanting to be strategic and operational so they too needed a fitting title.

If your getting into Recruitment operations or your already in it and want to make your RecOps more of a specialist domain then here’s some brainfood to chew over in 2019.

1. Data, Data, Data

In a role that sits outside but alongside the ‘hiring’ process, RecOps Managers often have an entirely different skillset and background to the rest of their team. At the heart of this skillset is the ability to effectively process and analyse data.

It would be hypocritical to suggest that data was important without showing some data wouldn’t it? According to the Bersin 2018 report, high performing TA functions are 6x more likely to use database driven decision making and high performing TA functions are 3.2x more likely to supply top talent. Which is probably the single most important goal for every TA function.

Okay, it’s important, what can you do with data? If you’re lucky enough to have a good HR/TA systems then you’ll likely have a treasure trove of data…

  1. If you haven’t crunched 2018’s numbers then set some time aside to do it soon. You can’t move forward and improve without an understanding of where you are now.

  2. Utilise predictive analytics for forecasting at least support budgeting and headcount and build your 2019 TA strategy.

  3. Does your recruiting data tie in with onwards talent management, performance data and learning data and internal mobility data?

  4. Is your Recruiting data’s success metrics integrated with the businesses success metrics? Career development, culture, strategy.

Some fairly simple data analytics can quickly shine a spotlight on some of your biggest bottlenecks.

Forget ABC and learn how to ABT (always be testing) in 2019. Run experiments and test. It’s a fundamental product development technique that is easy to incorporate into any campaign. If these skills aren’t in your team, ask your ATS/HRIS/HCM partner for some tips on their reporting tools.

Zinc RecOps Data

2. Critical thinking to apply Automation and AI

Again, according to the Bersin 2018 report, high performing TA functions are 4x more to embed technology in their processes such as Automation & AI cognitive tools.

What can you outsource to the robots? Automation is nearly always a good thing. Your ATS likely has a plethora of integrations available to automate parts of your process. Audit every single hour of your hiring/on-boarding process, every hour of your team’s time and every hour of your applicants. What can you pass off to technology that will reduce your bias or save your team time?

By using automation tools wisely, you will start to free up time that can be invested elsewhere in the function. However, bear in mind that whilst automation can sometimes be useful in the short-term, it can increase workload further down the funnel. Harness critical thinking to evaluate bottlenecks and apply your tools — from end-to-end. It could be the length of time it takes to schedule on-site interviews or collect references. Whatever, it is, you need data & critical thinking to prove & improve it.

3. Law requires you focus on inbound (GDPR).

Heard this one before? It doesn’t feel entirely original to be saying this year we’ll be focusing on inbound. But it’s for different reasons this time, reasons that can has catastrophic impact on your business. We recently saw the first GDPR fine slapped on Google. If those shots fired weren’t enough to make you sit up and question how compliant your job board & ATS suppliers are then I’m not sure what is. If Google can’t get it right then who else can? Define a data processor for your TA/People function, this might well fall down to you in RecOps.

Job boards are a huge outbound cost and with GDPR in mind, perhaps 2019 is a good time to use the RecOps function to look into new funnels for engagement. It’s well known that mature recruitment functions focus on strategic sourcing. Strategy in the field of recruiting sounds familiar ~that’s RecOps. What strategic tools or channels can help to source & interview for work ethic, values and potential? Rather than purely focusing on past skills.

RecOps Zinc Quality Score

4. A product-driven approach ~ Create Personas, personalise journeys

RecOps isn’t just about data crunching, it is about marrying the strategy and objectives of your business to the recruitment function. With the challenges of our everyday jobs and targets, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and to think of ourselves and our candidates as people. Make sure your team invests the time to think strategically and spend time re-evaluating and re-defining your recruitment voice and what you stand for. Think about what type of person your ideal candidate would like to engage with to create and re-evaluate your ideal candidate and recruiter personas. What language and tone of voice do they use? You may have 4/5 target candidate personas, what can you do to personalise the journey for each of these funnels?

Spend time role-playing in your team and building a consistent voice. In a competitive marketplace, this will help you stand out and should also bring more fulfilment and satisfaction to the team.

5. Communication channels of 2019 ~ WhatsApp & Chatbots

2018 was the year that workplace communication tools exploded with Slack everywhere and Facebook launching is workplace tool.

WhatsApp is a global phenomenon, with read and response rates eclipsing email and SMS. WhatsApp now offers business accounts and an open API. You can build automated campaigns and add team members to corp accounts.

Chatbots were tipped to be big in 2018 but didn’t quite take hold. They may reach their tipping point in 2019 with impressive stats on engagement of applicants. Both are way to boost engagement in 2019 that recruitment operations managers should know about.

In summary, RecOps is undoubtedly a strategic business function that has become increasingly necessary in large talent organisations today. It has huge potential to bring efficiencies and streamline processes.

Zinc’s redefining the reference check, learn more about how automated tools and how can help you.

This post was written in collaboration with Recruiting Brainfood.

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