#TalentQA | 4 min read

#TalentQA: Gaelle Polart, Digital Talent Acquisition Manager @ Adidas

Written by Adam Woozeer

The latest instalment in our Talent Leaders Q&A series, we spoke with Digital Talent Acquisition Manager at Adidas, Gaelle Polart.

Gaelle discusses how ever-evolving digital and technology capabilities are driving huge changes in the talent acquisition process, for both candidates and businesses alike. With an emphasis on how the candidate experience has become, and will continue to become, integral to success, Gaelle shares how businesses can adapt to this ever-evolving environment to remain successful.

Third Republic (TR): How do you think recruitment and talent acquisition has changed in recent years?

Gaelle Polart (GP): I think it completely depends on the market you are looking at and, because I have international experience working in France, the UK and Germany, I have seen different challenges and changes in each country.

For instance, digital tech recruitment has always been highly competitive, and this is only increasing, but this is a challenge that is especially true in London. So, they are beginning to change how they are approaching potential talent and are placing a stronger emphasis on their candidate experience. In France, however, this isn’t the case because they are still treating candidates as if they are in plentiful supply and so they aren’t making these adjustments.

TR: Do you think that a shortage of skills is driving this change of behaviour towards candidates, particularly in London?

 GP: Yes, I think it is becoming increasingly hard for businesses to get the sort of candidates they need on board, because there are simply more jobs around than there is talent to fill them.

As a result, businesses are having to become increasingly creative in terms of how they try and attract talent, and one aspect of this is placing an increased emphasis on offering a personalised and smooth candidate experience.

TR: Do you think that the rise in digital and technology will continue to influence and alter the industry?

GP: Of course! These things have already transformed the industry massively; my first ever job application was done with ink and was sent through mail. Now everything is online, and it is super easy to apply for a position through LinkedIn for example. It seems obvious that these changes will only continue as digital and technology continues to advance.

TR: What has the impact of these changes been on candidate behaviour?   

GP: I think that digital and technology has made it easier, faster and friendlier for candidates to apply, but I think it has a potentially negative impact on candidates because it almost removes the intrinsic motivation to do things, like formulate a job searching strategy or to actively look for the right role. Digital and technology has made it easy for candidates to mass apply to jobs, but in doing so has also made candidates increasingly lazy.

TR: So, candidates are becoming more passive in how they engage with the market?

GP: Yes; it is now the sole responsibility of the recruiter to approach and engage the right person, because candidates just won’t do it themselves. A good candidate in the technology market in London will stay on the market for maybe 10 days at most, so recruiters have the responsibility to engage these people as quickly as possible.

It’s important to remember, however, to look at the business requirements from a client and to assess the entire profile, not just to try and snap up a candidate for their one or two niche skills. In such a fast-moving market it can be easy to do the latter and to ignore other business requirements that might not make a candidate right.

TR: How should businesses react to these changes?

GP: We have to listen to feedback, that’s the most important thing. I remember when I was a candidate there was nothing worse than not hearing from an application or getting to the end of a form and being told you couldn’t submit it. Even though everything else is evolving, the responsibility to work together with a candidate to make the process better has not.

Systems have to be made for people, and that’s becoming even more important with GDPR, so businesses need to focus their efforts on ensuring their processes are as slick as possible.

TR:  Where do you think technology should be best applied as the industry evolves?

GP: I think you cannot fully automate the recruitment process, because at the end of the day it’s about human resourcing so you still need to have that ‘people-person’ in there.

However, you can, and we should, use technology to do things like gather feedback, in real-time, and use this information to truly be able to personalise and shape a candidate’s process.

Technology needs to be harnessed in this manner in order to augment and improve the candidate experience, rather than to change how the end-to-end recruitment process works.

TR: How have Adidas altered their sourcing methods specifically?

GP: We brought all of our digital skills in-house two years ago and in order to do so we put a strategy in place to adapt our way of working in-line with an agile mindset. This was a huge change for us, but it enabled us to increase the speed at which we could work, which is vital when you work in such fast-moving markets like digital and technology. We were looking to fill about 200 roles, and we simply had to be able to adapt in this way in order to do so.

TR: Finally, do you think that recruitment agencies can provide value in these competitive, fast-moving markets?

GP: I think they can, but I think the difficultly that agencies might face is in being able to make a culture fit. When I recruit for Adidas I recruit for the brand first, and then for the digital skills; agencies don’t tend to do this or they don’t tend to fully understand what the culture is and I think this presents them with a challenge – especially when working with a brand like Adidas.

Saying this, I think that agencies can bring value in helping to recruit for niche positions if they have a solid understanding of the market, they just need to be able to also understand the business.