An unanticipated side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the accelerated adoption of digital business processes.
Across industries, companies have been forced to adapt to a new digital normal almost overnight – exposing a gap between analogue businesses struggling to adjust and their digital-savvy competition.
As the importance of digital systems heightens, what does a ‘digital-only’ future look like in the recruitment industry?
It was only a few years back that the phrase ‘digital-first’ was coined, used to describe companies who placed digital technology at the forefront of their business processes.
‘Digital-first’ meant, at the time, a forward-thinking approach that welcomed new tech with open arms, always thinking whether or not important areas of company operations could be improved by leveraging smart software or online solutions.
But the relentless pace of technology development has continued to accelerate – and businesses now find ‘digital-first’ replaced by ‘digital only’ as the new gold standard.
It’s no longer enough to have digital in the mix – companies looking to edge out their commercial rivals need a true ‘digital only’ approach that breaks with legacy processes and outdated business practices.
Analogue vs digital – can you compete?
In recent years, digital technology gave some recruitment agencies a leg-up over competition – if and when it was correctly deployed.
Perhaps it allowed for smoother internal processes, leading to a few percentage points gained on the bottom line.
Perhaps it helped different team or office locations collaborate more effectively, raising performance standards and unifying fragmented business units.
But, as time has gone on, the mass-digitisation of business processes has turned tech-based solutions into a necessity, and agencies who still rely on offline methods to tackle critical areas of their workflows are finding it harder and harder to keep pace with their competitors.
Going digital often conjures up the idea of replacing paper processes with online solutions – swapping printed forms for digital documents.
And while cutting back on paper is part of the picture, there’s much more to it.
Companies who truly get the best out of digital solutions in recruitment are able to offer new levels of service to clients and customers that simply weren’t possible with traditional tools.
From advanced cross-platform search to fully-digital client and customer registration and onboarding, advanced software has unlocked entirely new capabilities.
While some agencies still lean on digital for minor efficiency gains, the most successful have re-thought huge areas of their business models around tech-enabled solutions.
Flexibility without compromise
In a post-pandemic world, flexible working and the ability to deliver premium service without interruption from any location has shot up the priority list for recruitment business owners.
The initial shudders of lockdown left many agencies frantically struggling to find new ways of working without the familiar environment of a physical office.
And, while offering secure data and system access to employees is at the heart of flexibility, the push to switch offline for online has also forced recruitment business owners to re-evaluate traditional processes and recruitment software, often seeing that digital solutions don’t just serve a short-term purpose, but create a new long-term opportunity.
Digitising your client and customer experience
Agencies across many sectors have long depended on face-to-face interaction to cement new client and candidate relationships.
As well as the much-needed ‘human touch’, this reliance on in-person interaction masked another driving factor – a lack of any viable alternative!
New digital technology, however, has allowed agency owners to take their workflows online without any loss in customer service levels – in fact, in many cases, enhancing the depth, speed and efficiency of interaction.
Advanced capabilities in areas like online skills testing have provided recruiters with a way to evaluate candidates remotely, while at the same time delivering a more comprehensive screening and matching service to their customers.
From nice-to-have to must-have
Modern recruitment businesses aiming to keep ahead of the pack can no longer afford to be shackled to outmoded ways of working which struggle stubbornly against the tide of digital change.
From office-based servers to paper-and-ink data capture, old habits have persisted in some corners long beyond the calls for change.
Now, driven by a mix of circumstance and commercial forces, the business environment is working to a new set of digital-only rules.
And, amid the hyper-competitive conditions of an economic slowdown, those who learn them fastest will emerge the winners.