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#TalentTalk: An Interview with Jonathan Briggs

22.06.21 | Talent Acquisition

Candidate.ID has conducted a series of interviews on our show – Talenttalk – with leading recruitment and HR professionals to gain insight in to talent acquisition today. This week’s TalentTalk is with Jonny Briggs, Group Head, Talent Acquisition at Aviva.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing talent acquisition leaders today?

The main challenge facing talent acquisition leaders today is identifying the skills needed for the future. In recruitment today, recruiters are filling positions with like-for-like candidates. Within our organisation we have no real problem filling jobs, however, we are up against some of the most innovative organisations across the globe and so must ensure we have the right skills and the right talent joining us.

Another big challenge is obtaining that talent. Our organisation has set up a ‘digital garage’ in Shoreditch, London, where a lot  of UK start-ups are going to be based. We understand it is essential to have a presence in the right area and the right environment in order to attract the highest quality talent. It’s all about identifying exactly what talent you actually want and need for the organization. This might sound rather simple but you really have to question, ‘Is that the talent that we need to drive our organisation forward?’.


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?

I would say that this power balance will continue, however, I think the greatest challenge organisations will face is retaining talent. Candidates of my generation will perhaps have an average of 9 jobs in a career, yet if you consider the next generation, that number will at least double. This is no bad thing, as we will want candidates to have that extra experience, however it also makes recruitment increasingly competitive. Organisations need to be spot on in attracting and obtaining top talent, and they need to consider what is now important to a candidate other than salary and job content.

Going above and beyond attracting talent, I think that if an organisation wants to gain a competitive advantage, they need to be better at retaining talent than their competitors, and this is where the challenge lies. Rather than simply attracting talent, organisations will then want to fully utilise the high quality talent that they already have.


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

For our organisation, this is not really a problem. Of course there are some positions that are harder to fill than others, but once we have identified the candidates and the talent that we want, I am fairly confident that we could go and get them. It really important however, to ensure that we are going after the right candidates.


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

There are so many different ways that you can do that, however with limited resources and time, we really have to consider what will work best for us. We have adopted a digital first approach in the way we try to engage our customers and so we want our recruitment to mirror this too. We have decided only to use LinkedIn to engage candidates and we only use the highest quality of content. If you were to go back and look at our content 4 months ago, it was absolutely rubbish. We had 72,000 people following us on LinkedIn and I would say that this happened by default rather than being actively pushed. In 3 months since then, we have improved this by 30%, as we have content going out every single day that is good quality and not simply about recruiting. I believe this is how you get candidates interested and engaged – high quality content that interests them and inspires them to connect with your organisation.


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

Recruiters are all doing it in different ways, yet it’s all about how you manage to maintain a candidate’s interest. It’s all very well sparking the interest of a candidate but if you fail to keep them engaged and connected then it’s pointless. Great technology and expert recruiters will definitely help, but if the candidate doesn’t receive a consistently positive experience throughout the process then they will instantly lose interest and won’t join. Every touch point, whether that be human or digital needs to be fantastic. It’s about every element of the recruitment process working together in balance to deliver a fantastic candidate experience.  What makes it so challenging is the fact that there is not one answer that fits all; it’s a very broad spectrum of processes and activities that involve different technologies and different people at each stage.


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

The best way to do it is use your internal population. If you asked every individual holding a senior position to source two candidates they think would be a good fit for the organization, via their LinkedIn profile or personal network, the result would be a list of really high quality candidates that can be easily contacted. It is a win-win situation, as we obtain high quality potential candidates and we will also reward employees for their efforts in sourcing them. It is extremely frustrating when organisations fail to use this method because it really is so powerful. As a recruiter, I don’t even have to make first contact with the potential candidate, as the initial interaction will come through a friendly familiar face.

If you have exhausted your internal networks, the next step would be to do it yourself rather than an agency, but it’s important to understand that we will always have a number of jobs that must go through an agency. There are a certain number of people that we just can’t get to as they won’t have a presence on social media, so an agency can be ideal. So really it’s using a balance of many different tactics.


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?

The three most important metrics in talent acquisition are: cost per hire, time to hire and quality of hire. Unquestionably quality of hire is the most important metric to focus on however, it is the most difficult to rate.


It is becoming increasingly important to measure the amount of candidate pipeline that each recruitment initiative contributes? How do companies currently do this?

This is one of the areas that we are working on within our organisation. We understand that measuring pipeline is extremely important but it is also extremely challenging to do. We have a presence within 16 countries across the globe and the systems we use in each country will differ. For example, the ATS used in France is different to the one we use in Canada. By the end of 2017 we will have a global ATS.


In a business of any size – candidate interactions can number in the hundreds or thousands. What are the right tools talent acquisition teams need to manage the complexity?

We as humans react better to personal contact, so the best way is 1 to 1. I react well to personal interaction and will simply dismiss anything that seems like a generic mailshot. A trick that works well for me is when a company manages to gain my interest and then I voluntarily sign up to connect with them and follow. If you are able to gain someone’s interest and make them choose to follow you, this will be much more effective than if you simply bombard them with content that they don’t want to read. This will reduce the complexity involved in candidate interaction and ensure that you are effectively interacting.



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