The pandemic’s disruptive force has opened rich veins of opportunity for Latin American recruiters with the digital capabilities and agility to mine them.
Digital recruitment, a fledgling sector in the region, is one such example. Here, the new remote working environment and the enhanced presence of digital technologies in the workplace, meet. The added ingredient of rising demand for Nearshore positions means the digital recruitment sector is poised to make an impact here as it has done in other parts of the globe.
Still, when Santiago Gonzalez, CEO of Colombia-based IT talent recruitment hub PeakU, talks about his use of AI and machine learning in the hiring process for IT professionals, he speaks plainly. “We’re doing nothing new,” says Gonzalez, “these technologies were already invented.”
But in Latin America, they’re underutilized. And Gonzalez saw a gap in the market that needed to be filled.
“We identified three main types of employment groups. The first are the operational, sometimes lower skilled workers who are recruited regularly. Companies don’t pay much to find these candidates because they are not difficult to find and there is a churn issue,” Gonzalez explained. “The other end is the top-level management, the kind of employees hired by Michael Page. Companies pay a lot to find these candidates but nature of the position means they are not hired often.
“In the middle, we found a group we believe is the future: the technology specialist profile. This is the best of both worlds. The demand for this profile has grown because of Covid-19, the talent is scarce, and because they’re highly-skilled, companies pay more for the candidates,” said Gonzalez.”
Korn Ferry predicts a global deficit of 85 million IT employees by 2030
According to Gonzalez, the U.S. alone is short of one million tech workers. Backing up his claim is U.S. management consultancy firm Korn Ferry, who predicted a global deficit of 85 million IT employees by 2030 if action isn’t taken to resolve the issue. This would lead to a shortage that could “reach US$8.45 trillion in unrealized revenue by 2030, equivalent to the combined GDP of Germany and Japan,” the report stated.
Machine learning and other advanced technologies can be applied to the hiring to automate repetitive cycles within the process. The idea is to reduce the effort required for a hiring agent to click through CVs that aren’t appropriate, or that it can weed out candidates who don’t possess the skills for a role rather than an agent making the discovery later.
Though the acquisition of tech talent is vital it isn’t the only problem area for foreign companies looking to Latin America, nor is PeakU’s data-focused method the only one to be growing to be growing. Collok.io, a video-based recruitment platform, currently in its beta-testing stage and being used by 30 Nearshore companies across the finance, manufacturing and consultancy sectors, is another recent entrant.
“Traditional recruiters can spend up to an hour carrying out phone screening with every candidate for a job,” explained Eduardo Campos, the company’s founder and old hand recruiter. “This is a waste of time because the recruiter knows within the first ten minutes if the candidate is up to the job.”
Campos argues that the dramatic uptick in Nearshore hiring means that time savings are vital. Recruiters can ill-afford to spend hours organizing video conferences when video interviews can be watched at their convenience and pace instead, he says. Nearshore’s inherent challenges – namely time differences between the client and service locations – can also lengthen the hiring process. The video “on-demand” service allows recruiters to put together a template interview that candidates record their replies to. The recruiter can then take only 7 minutes on each candidate before arranging longer one-on-one calls with those that will be taken to the next step.
“It’s a game changer,” Campos said. “But it isn’t only about the technology – the tech we use isn’t particularly complex – it’s the process.”
Companies are required by law to meet standards that reduce bias in the hiring process. Aside from legal and ethical concerns, bias can also be detrimental to the company’s overall culture. Bias “can stymie diversity, recruiting, promotion and retention efforts,” Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino told the Hard Business Review. The same publication warned against the use of unstructured, free-flowing interviews because “dozens of studies have found them to be among the worst predictors of actual on-the-job performance.”
Both Gonzalez and Campos argue that their methods help solve these issues. PeakU focuses on structured cognitive testing that allows for candidates to shine regardless of their experience level, while the templated questions clients prepare in Collok.io are applied to every applicant and give each an equal chance to reply.
“Video interviews are here to stay, and evolve” — Eduardo Campos
Similarly, the feedback that applicants receive helps in flattening candidate abandonment rates that can cause potential employers to lose out on quality talent. “Candidates receive feedback along every step of the journey; when a video has been reviewed, they get a notification to say it has been opened and seen,” explained Campos.
Here to Stay?
Though the pandemic has forced a recruitment rethink and given rise to the digital channel for Nearshore players, the question over its longevity once the region leaves Covid-19 behind, remains. Yet for both company leaders, the feedback that they have received from their clients tells them that their methods won’t be going anywhere soon.
“Video interviews are here to stay, and evolve. There won’t be a ‘back to normal’ situation as such and once recruitment teams experience the value of the video interview, it might be hard to abandon,” said Campos. “Recruiters should consider that candidates might not feel comfortable doing face-to-face interviews and therefore should always keep the option for vital ones open,” he added.