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#TalentTalk: An Interview with Iain Hamilton

24.06.21 | Talent Acquisition

Candidate.ID have conducted a series of interviews with leading recruitment and HR professionals to gain insight in to talent acquisition today. This week’s #TalentTalk is with Iain Hamilton, Senior Director of Candidate Delivery Products at Indeed.com and Candidate.ID partner.

Candidates are commonly described as being in the driving seat of talent acquisition these days. Can you see this power balance continuing and what do companies need to do to adapt and gain competitive advantage?


The candidates that companies want to hire have always been in the driving seat and it’s becoming more evident. The Harvard Business Review reported that in the top concerns of CEO’s, talent is commonly in the top three. Many companies still treat talent attraction and recruitment as a reactive function, in that they don’t want to invest in attracting the right people unless they need them right now. Changing career is a huge decision in a person’s life and to be truly comfortable with changing roles, you need to believe in the company you are moving to and you need to believe in the value that you add to them and they add to you. Believing and trusting in a brand does not happen overnight. If you do not focus on winning the hearts and minds of potential employees, then it is likely that one of these three scenarios will happen,


  • You will hire somebody who is willing to make the jump but is uncertain about the move they are making. They will have a ‘let’s give it a go’ mindset’ knowing that they can move on if it doesn’t work out.
  • The person that you hire has no choice because they’re not getting on in their role or it is at risk. Of course, this could be that our competitor is not treating their staff well but it could also be for other reasons.
  • You hire someone because they have actually taken the time to research your business, even though you haven’t made any of that information readily available. This does happen but it doesn’t happen very often.


What you’re leaving yourself with is the least likely scenario of someone entering your business is the way that you’d prefer them to enter it. What we need to do is move to a model, where we are first attracting, then engaging and then after that recruiting.


The main problem today is not getting enough applicants, the problem is getting more, better qualified, quality candidates. What is your experience?


When I was recruiting in the oil and gas industry I was sent a job to recruit a pipeline engineer over to Kazakhstan. It was urgent so we got the job registered on our job board, put out a number of adverts and then I used my system to send emails to our current talent pool while also making some connections on LinkedIn. I thought I’d done a fantastic job of preparing myself for Monday morning but when I went in to the office I had well over 1000 CVs that I had to have shortlisted in time for Tuesday afternoon.


In the end, we did hire the people that we needed but we wasted a fair amount of time and resource doing that exercise. A lot of candidates these days are not committed to the application that they’re making and they’re only applying through a couple of clicks. Some candidates are having a bad half hour, some are looking for a pay rise so only want a negotiation tactic, others will not have considered changing job or employer location and have applied on a whim and then you have the candidates who simply aren’t qualified. You receive so many job applications and waste a lot of time trying to find those needles in the haystack but you do have to ensure that even the people that you don’t want to hire are getting a great candidate experience as well as the ones that you do hire.


What do you think are the most powerful ways to reach out and get high quality passive talent aware, engaged and considering you?


I think that storytelling is the best way to help people to understand. What we are doing is not very different to marketing. Candidates need to understand why they should help us succeed in our goals and engage with the organization before they even apply for our roles. This is one of the key targets as a recruitment marketer.


What’s the most inventive outreach you have seen to fill a role?


I watch every video that GE upload to their YouTube page. The way they are attracting people in to their talent pool is fantastic. They are not just prompting people to apply but using humor to show people how great their company is as an employer. I think that it is fantastic as a talent attraction technique. Something that I have been working on recently with my clients is ‘recruiter-less recruiting.’ This is great for when they are wanting to reach a niche or senior skillset. We have been running talent attraction campaigns and taking on the storytelling nature and putting this in front of people who we would like to apply for the job. We are then watching the engagement and then leadership of the company is getting in touch with the candidates. This is the best way to approach these types of candidates as they feel special as the leadership of the company has selected them and they are not really experiencing a recruiter in their journey. We are removing the blockers that we’ve had in the past.


What are the main challenges talent acquisition leaders face when adopting an integrated approach to generating, nurturing and identifying the best candidates?


Integrating the marketing mindset in to recruitment. Some recruiters are not interested in helping the talent attraction function with candidate generation as it’s simply not as sexy as revenue generation. We need to bring a new skill set in to the recruitment function that is very much recruitment and talent marketing. They will focus on spreading the word about the business and engaging with the talent pool that we want. They will be generating candidates as leads for our recruitment teams.


What is current best practice for prioritising the list of candidates to contact first, and how do you think it could be improved?


Common best practice is going through applicants in the order of who applied for the role. Most applicant tracking system these days don’t do a very adequate job of showing you the most suitable candidates first or showing who are most engaged. When I work with clients I help them with candidate lead scoring. The more engaged with the employer brand, the higher that candidate will score and will fall in to being a suitable candidate. For specialist roles, we flip recruitment on its head. We work with a leader or hiring manager to decide who will contact the candidate for that first discussion. The recruiter doesn’t speak to the candidate; it is all managed by a senior leader. The recruiter is not removed they are just providing a different function in the background. They are facilitating the campaign and the content and also understanding the data of who is engaging and reacting with it.


What do you think are the most important metrics that talent acquisition leaders need to focus on today to demonstrate ROI and greater accountability to the business?


High level stats like time-to-hire, source-of-hire and quality-of-hire are as important as ever. However, to me it gets special when you’re looking at the next tier down. You can see the specific content and job adverts that make candidates more likely to apply for the job. It is extremely valuable to see the exact journey that a candidate goes through that makes them more likely to join your business in the long run. You can then create adverts, content and channels that will recruit the highest performing individuals. We do need to pay attention to the high level stats but it’s the lower level stats that will help move your recruitment function forward.


More resources:

Iain’s LinkedIn

Iain’s Twitter

Iain’s YouTube

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