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Ep 469: TA Technology Transformation

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With recruiting challenges so acute and talent acquisition technology developing at such a great pace, tech stack adoption and transformation strategies are critical for many employers.

So what are the key issues, and how are talent acquisition teams specializing and evolving to exploit new technologies and methodologies?

My guest this week is Samantha Ramsay, Head of Experienced Hire UK&I at EY. I caught up with her a couple of weeks ago at UNLEASH World in Paris, where she was delivering a presentation about Tech Transformation.

In the interview, we discuss:

• Current challenges in talent acquisition

• Driving change in recruiting

• Asking five whys to get to the root cause of the problem

• Building stakeholder consensus

• What makes a great vendor/employer partnership

• Talent Intelligence

• Using CRMs in the right way

• Developing specialist skills within TA functions

• Building long term engagement and affinity with talent pools

• What does the future look like?

Listen to this podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Transcription

Matt Alder (Short Survey) (0s):
Just before we start the show a quick message to say that I need your help. Whether you’re a longtime listener, or you literally just found us, I would be incredibly grateful if you could go to mattalder.com and fill out a very short survey about this podcast. It won’t take longer than two minutes of your time and will be incredibly helpful to me as I develop recruiting future into 2023. Just to recap, the website address is mattalder.com. And it will take just two minutes of your time to complete the survey.

Matt Alder (Short Survey) (40s):
Go on, press pause, and do it right now.

Matt Alder (Intro) (1m 2s):
Hi there, this is Matt Alder. Welcome to episode 469 of the Recruiting Future Podcast. With recruiting challenges so acute and talent acquisition technology developing at such a great pace, tech stack adoption and transformation strategies are critical for many employers. So, what are the key issues, and how are talent acquisition teams specializing and evolving to exploit new technologies and methodologies? My guest this week is Samantha Ramsay, Head of Experienced Hire UK&I at EY.

Matt Alder (Intro) (1m 41s):
I caught up with her a couple of weeks ago at UNLEASH World in Paris, where she was delivering a presentation about Tech Transformation and sharing some expert insights.

Matt Alder (1m 54s):
Hi Sam, welcome to the podcast.

Samantha Ramsay (1m 56s):
Hi, how you doing?

Matt Alder (1m 56s):
I’m very good. It’s a pleasure to talk to you. We’re recording live on day two of Unleash in Paris. Could you just introduce yourself and tell everyone what you do?

Samantha Ramsay (2m 6s):
I can indeed. My name is Samantha Ramsey. I am the Head of Experienced Hire for UK and Ireland for EY.

Matt Alder (2m 14s):
Fantastic stuff. So I’m asking everyone the same question. Obviously lots of disruptive forces around in the area of talent acquisition at the moment. What are the main challenges that you are seeing at the moment when it comes to TA?

Samantha Ramsay (2m 33s):
That’s a really good question. What are the main challenges? I think, well there’s been a couple of challenges. One, in terms of talent acquisition itself and recruiting. There’s been a lot of movement around recruiters. And we’ve personally, and I don’t think we’re the only ones who’ve really struggled with that and recruiters getting paid quite big sums of money, people can move around. And so there’s two things on that which I think are a bit of a concern actually. One is there’s been a lot of movement within the recruitment work workforce, which means the existing TA functions are predominantly new people. And so if I look at my own, about 57, 60% of my TA team are new within the last 12 months.

Matt Alder (3m 19s):
Wow.

Samantha Ramsay (3m 19s):
And so that’s great in one side, which means there’s lots of new ideas, lots of people really excited wanting to do something different. On the other side, there’s a lot of new people who don’t know how to do things. So actually it’s meant that thinking about, what is the role of recruiter. How do we train people? How do they understand the organization? How do we make sure they’re selling the right things? Things that you wouldn’t necessarily have thought of as much in detail had it only been ones and twos that have left and moved on. But when you’ve had mass change it’s meant that you’ve had to really think about, well how do we build a culture again? How do we create a team environment? So that’s actually been quite a different thing. I know that’s not necessarily the answer to the question about TA in general, but actually, I think it’s something that when I’ve spoken to lots of other people, they are starting to have challenges with too.

Matt Alder (4m 6s):
And has that given you the kind of opportunity to reinvent the way things work, the way you do things?

Samantha Ramsay (4m 11s):
Yeah, I think so. And actually, listen to others and it’s interesting cause I’ve only been the organization for just over a year myself. And there are things I had thought when I joined and they’d had a relatively stable team before I got there. It wasn’t all me joining that meant everyone was leaving. I mean, imagine some of it, but all, not all of it. I’m gonna blame the great resignation. But of course, once you’ve had a, when you the downside sometimes of having a very stable team is this is what we do cause we’ve always done it. So actually it can be really difficult to enforce change or instigate some kind of change cuz there’s a real nervousness around it and people are very happy with what they do.

Samantha Ramsay (4m 53s):
With new people. It’s meant that you can kind of go, what do you think? And for them to say, “What? Why do we do it this way? And I’m like, “I don’t know. Why do we do it this way?” So actually that’s been quite fun to do, but it has thrown up quite a lot of, why do we do things this way? So you then have to think about, “Okay, what can we realistically manage and do at any one time? We can’t overhaul everything. If that makes any sense. You have to rethink about the way forward.

Matt Alder (5m 20s):
And I suppose that leads to because earlier you were doing a talk about tech transformation.

Samantha Ramsay (5m 26s):
Yes.

Matt Alder (5m 26s):
Those kind of things. Tell us about that.

Samantha Ramsay (5m 30s):
So the talk was kind of a culmination of my experience over the last number of years. We’ll keep that quiet. And in the different transformations that I’ve done in different organizations and what I’ve learned during those experiences. And kind of bringing together a combination of all of those experiences I think would be helpful for others no matter what environment. I’ve taken experiences from global organizations, from big corporate organizations, from retailers, from construction companies. So it doesn’t necessarily matter going forward what environment someone is was in. It was hopefully to give them a bit of advice in terms of this is what I’ve learned, these are my hints and tips moving forward.

Matt Alder (6m 15s):
Fantastic. So talk us through some of them. What were the main points that you were trying to get across?

Samantha Ramsay (6m 22s):
Yeah, so the main points. So we talked about firstly about visioning. So how to understand the vision for a transformation, whether it be for using tech or not. And about how to understand what the actual problem is. Sometimes it’s very very quick in recruitment to go, Oh, is this a problem and this is a solution without going, well actually is that the problem? And we talked through the five why’s. And if you ask why five times, you’re more likely to get to the actual root cause which means that you can provide a solution that’s most effective in the end result. So it’s about how to truly understand. Number one, it was truly understand what the actual problem was and who cares about the problem.

Samantha Ramsay (7m 3s):
Does anyone actually care before you start putting in a solution in place. The second thing was about then once you’ve come up with a solution is how do you measure that it’s gonna be successful? How can you make sure that it? How can you prove your point? So about how to use data to prove that the solution that you’re putting in place is gonna work. But also how to pick the right types of partners in the business to demonstrate your pilot with. And my advice is always to go with the noisiest stakeholders, not the quietest ones. Cuz the noisy ones, the angry ones will actually also shout the loudest positively when something works.

Samantha Ramsay (7m 43s):
And actually, once you’ve got them on side, you really don’t have to do any more sellings. Everyone else does it for you. Right. It’s done then.

Matt Alder (7m 49s):
Yeah. Yeah.

Samantha Ramsay (7m 50s):
And then the final point was around how then to partner with the business and suppliers or partners to get what you need done. And not to go it alone as TA and actually have people with you. Not people saying, I’m behind you and your decision and I’ve got you. But you know, stand behind your decision. You need people to stand with you and say, “Okay, well I agree this is a solution and I’m also invested in this solution whether it be financially or otherwise to ensure that you get something over the line, and then how to work with the organization to get something over the line. Right. When you haven’t got any money.

Matt Alder (8m 27s):
Yeah.

Samantha Ramsay (8m 27s):
Who has got the money and how do you get it.

Matt Alder (8m 33s):
Something interesting for me is there are obviously lots and lots of vendors here at the show, literally hundreds of booths and you can walk around and find the technological solution to every problem that you can imagine.

Samantha Ramsay (8m 45s):
Yes.

Matt Alder (8m 45s):
And quite a few that you can’t imagine as well. What makes a great supplier-vendor partnership? Cause I know you partner with a number of sort of tech companies. What would your advice be to some of the people exhibiting at an event like this in terms of how they should partner and what they can do to really make the kind of transformation that you were talking about easier?

Samantha Ramsay (9m 10s):
Yeah. Never to assume that you can fix the problem without knowing what their problem is. So, there’s lots of people that I’ve spoken with not just here but just in general who will approach you and go, we can save you money in X. Well you don’t even know that I spend any money in this. You also don’t even know if it’s a problem for me. Right? So assuming because your technology can do that for organizations, it doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s what you need. So I would take the time to understand what the situation is, what someone is trying to achieve and how your solution, if it can fix that now or add some value now. And sometimes it doesn’t, right? Sometimes you’re like actually yeah, well not right now, but maybe in the future.

Samantha Ramsay (9m 51s):
So I think it’s about being really open and honest listening to what they need. And I think for me, to be honest, I mean this is my personal preferences. I always tend to choose technology, suppliers, and partners that can bespoke things. And I’ve always go, I love that but I want this. So people who are kind of open and you can grow with. And they’re like, actually we see your vision too. Let’s work together to try and achieve that. Cause actually, that works well for us also.

Matt Alder (10m 24s):
And in terms of types of technology, again, all sorts of different things being exhibited here, lots going on in the market at the moment. Cutting through all that noise, what do you think the types of technology are that are most useful for talent acquisition professionals in organizations of your size at the moment?

Samantha Ramsay (10m 47s):
Ooh, that’s a really good question cuz that means I’m potentially assuming that I know other people’s problems and I’m gonna be exactly like I’ve just told you not to be and assume the answer.

Matt Alder (10m 57s):
I’ve literally made you break your own rule for that.

Samantha Ramsay (11m 2s):
Yeah, I would go from a CRM and a candidate engagement. So candidate engagement intelligence CRM I do think is the way forward. I think people have CRMs, people have known about CRMs for a long time and use them. I don’t think in general they’re used in the right way as my personal view. And I think it is a separate element to TA. It’s not, recruiters can also use CRMs and recruiters can also write job ads, and recruiters like these are specialists roles, they are specialist experts who look after this activity.

Matt Alder (11m 38s):
Yeah.

Samantha Ramsay (11m 39s):
And I think TA teams should be building those experts and that helps people in the long run. So for me, CRMs are always the key and always, have my favorite as you know.

Matt Alder (11m 53s):
Absolutely.

Samantha Ramsay (11m 54s):
Yeah.

Matt Alder (11m 54s):
Absolutely. You’re allowed to mention them?

Samantha Ramsay (11m 56s):
Okay. Be Marie. Okay, fine. Okay, cool.

Matt Alder (11m 58s):
And I suppose that’s interesting in terms of we were talking about you rebuilding your team and transformations with technology. How has the makeup of TA and recruiting teams sort of changed over the last few years? You kind of mentioned specialists and experts and things like that. How has that evolved?

Samantha Ramsay (12m 18s):
I think it’s evolved in terms of the activity that we are expecting to happen within TA. So engagement, or intelligence, or insights, or marketing, or whatever it might be, mapping and search all that kind of stuff. There are more activities that have been bolted on or definitely exploited more within TA than they have previously done in the past. But what I don’t think has happened at the same speed is the differentiation of roles within TA. I think they’re just being bolted on, and a lot of the time to a recruiter’s role. And I think we need to start separating out the specialisms within TA and growing the careers like that rather than a recruiter is a role in TA.

Matt Alder (13m 4s):
Yeah, absolutely.

Samantha Ramsay (13m 4s):
That makes sense.

Matt Alder (13m 5s):
Yeah, no, it makes sense. And what type of roles do you think could sort of move out and be and grow into a sort of a specialization?

Samantha Ramsay (13m 13s):
Yeah. Well the ones, I mean we are just developing a team at the moment. We just started a team at EY. So we have an intelligence team. And they look at insights and intelligence and that’s all they look at. And that’s intelligence and insights on a strategic level. Not, I can’t feel this role, how many candidates are there on LinkedIn? That’s a more operational element. This is very much about working with the business, working with the strategy of the business to go, “Okay, well let me understand what it is that you’re trying to look for.” What’s happening in the marketplace? What does the regional location, what is that telling us? And is that the right thing to be doing? And how do we invest and what do we do going forward? That type of talent intelligence is something that I think really needs to be invested in.

Samantha Ramsay (13m 58s):
And that’s a role that we have within my team at EY. And the other pieces around candidate engagement, which sounds is not kind of talent polling, which I actually hate that term. But it’s around thinking of the long term of how are we constantly communicating and engaging and building an affinity with people over a long period of time. You know, recruitment is very much the vacancy now, we need to fill it now and we move on. There’s two parts to talent acquisition. There’s the what’s now and then there’s the long-term future piece. So we need to invest a lot more in the long-term.

Matt Alder (14m 33s):
So final question. And I suppose this is more of a summary because you’ve really sort of talked about this all the way through our conversation. What does the future look like? Where do you hope talent acquisition is going in the next two to three years?

Samantha Ramsay (14m 51s):
Where do I hope it’s going? I think that I actually, every HR person now is gonna literally hate this next, connect this next comment. But actually, I think talent and TA, it will be the leading in HR than HR is personally where I think it’s going because of the advice that we can give, the insights, the awareness, the knowledge. I think we have a lot more actionable and value-added and I don’t mean that HR is not value-added, but in terms of decision-making and shaping businesses and the strategy of businesses, there is a huge amount more that talent acquisition can do.

Samantha Ramsay (15m 33s):
And I think that that’s being seen more and more now. So, I think you know, potentially gone are the days when I started off in recruitment is that you needed to go in HR first and I think actually TA might be the base you need to go to first.

Matt Alder (15m 47s):
Sam, thank you very much for talking to me.

Samantha Ramsay (15m 51s):
No worries. Thank you very much.

Matt Alder (15m 53s):
My thanks to Sam. 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. And also you can now follow the show on TikTok where you can find us by searching for Recruiting Future Pod. You can search all the past episodes at recruitingfuture.com on that site. You can also subscribe to receive the monthly newsletter and to get the inside track about everything that’s coming up on the show. Thanks very much for listening.

Matt Alder (16m 40s):
I’ll be back next time and I hope you’ll join me.

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