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#TalentTalk: An Interview with Martin Dangerfield

22.06.21 | 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 Martin Dangerfield, Founder and CEO of Immersive.

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

Talent acquisition has come a long way in terms of where it is seen in an organisation. The more astute see it as a vital component of growth, as well as a valuable insight into the market place.

The new challenge, for me, is how to engage with candidates in a sea of LinkedIn messages, tweets and noise that can easily be deleted, ignored or missed.

Talent Acquisition leaders are now aspiring to become true marketeers, and are developing engagement strategies with compelling messages that make candidates want to join them. We are being driven more and more by the data but probably still not quite sure what the data is telling us or having tools in place to do something about it.


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 power balance has definitely settled with candidates and rightly so. I think that candidates have simply grown up a little, and are expecting more from the recruitment process and want to be treated as human beings rather than just a number. Organisations need to think about how to engage candidates with relevant stories. There is nothing worse than being approached by a role that is so far off what you do for a living.

Instead companies need to be continuously engaging with people that are a potential fit and then work out what role that person might see themselves in. This process can take weeks, months, or even years but hopefully moves us away from a transactional, “I’ve got a role to fill; you’re it”, approach.


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

Technology has enabled us to send our details for hundreds of jobs in seconds, and in the process, saturating organisations with CV’s that are not a great fit. My experience has always been that a direct, targeted approach is always more successful. Yes, I still advertise roles to pick up the 20% or so of people looking for a job, but the focus has to be on the other 80%. Once you have them on your radar you need to make sure the approach is a good one, or you will switch people off not just for that role, but roles in the future as well.


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

I am a sucker for a story. For me attracting passive candidates is about telling a story, and helping them to visualise why a move to a new role would be a good one. You can do this through a decent careers site, by sharing relevant content, blogging or just making yourself available to talk. Timing is also critical. We all look for something new at a critical moment – a new relationship, redundancy, moving location and a host of other things. If you can present a compelling opportunity that coincides with one of those the success rate is much, much higher.


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

You need an organisation that sees value in developing an engagement strategy. It still amazes me that some still see the hiring process as sending an InMail on Linkedin.

For organisations embarking on a nurturing path, it is often the logistics of how to do it that can become overwhelming. I worked with a large business hiring 5000 people per year, generated from 150,000 applicants, with a load of direct contact. When you map out the technology stack it can be incredibly complicated. Often overworked recruiters are tasked with creating content or developing a new outreach plan, despite not having the skills or capacity to do that.


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

I am not sure there is a singular approach that works for every organisation. I am working with a high tech, high growth organisation and we latch on to a single niche technology skill when approaching candidates, with a really simple yes or no decision, but that is unusual. For some organisations it is skill set, location or industry knowledge. All of these are absolutely relevant but knowing someone wants the job when approaching them would speed up the process. Motivated candidates are better hires overall; engaging with them at the right time saves time.


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?

Organisations all measure different things. For a long time, time to hire was used, but that only tells you how fast you are moving along with a quantity and volume metric. I think real value comes from the quality of the people that you hire. The most successful hiring is when Talent Acquisition and the business work together as team, with everyone being clear on their role and what is expected of them.


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

I suspect this varies widely from company to company. It will be everything from an excel spreadsheet, candidates hidden in their ATS or something more structured like an Avature talent pool. I have been working a lot with smaller organisations and they want to see the results of their efforts. Their good intent generates a lot of interest but then it is not clear what content or channel actually worked to bring a candidate to them. Just as importantly, they are missing out on ‘buying signals’ from candidates that have responded via a particular channel but have been missed.


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 have all been there – the Excel spreadsheet of doom. I still use them, but more and more it needs to be some form of CRM that actually manages your relationship with your candidates. In an ideal world it links in with your organisation’s marketing platform; telling potential clients about a new project or something you are doing is just as important for potential future hires. As a huge generalisation, HR systems and Applicant Tracking Systems are failing to deliver what an organisation needs in acquiring talent. Large organisations use them to authorise a role or hire rather than to manage a relationship. Allow candidates to consume relevant content as and when they need it and make it easy for them to say they want to work for you when the time is right. The candidate journey should be simple.


More Resources

Martin’s LinkedIn

Martin’s Twitter

Martin’s Website

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