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#TalentQ&A: Jiri Herodek, Senior IT Recruiter @ blue-infinity

Francesca Greane
Written by Francesca Greane

The latest in our Talent Leaders Q&A series, we spoke with Jiri Herodek – Senior IT recruiter at blue-infinity. Drawing on his experience hiring professionals specialising in niche technologies such as Salesforce and Javascript, Jiri provided some insight on how recruiters today need to adapt to changing candidate behaviours in order to source and engage this in-demand technical talent.


Third Republic (TR): How have you seen talent acquisition change in your time in the industry?

Jiri Herodek (JH): I’ve spent more than seven years working in emerging markets, and I’ve definitely seen a change mostly in the fact that the competition was never this fierce. It used to be easier to place an IT developer 6-7 years ago, and some companies were even willing to hire someone who was not a 100% match simply because they needed the talent. Nowadays, companies are satisfying their hiring needs either by training people without any commercial experience to become developers, or by recruiting talent abroad. The tools that we had at our disposal even a few years ago were also completely different and the advanced tech that we use now –artificial intelligence and machine learning etc. didn’t exist. In line with that, ATS and CRMs were not so advanced. So, the talent acquisition industry is completely different now and the market has changed rapidly in less than ten years.


TR: With the industry changing so much, have you also seen candidate behaviour change?

JH: Candidates are definitely pickier, especially in IT! They’re also definitely moving away from the sites like LinkedIn, and towards specialised networks like Stack Overflow and GitHub, because they simply don’t want to be spammed by recruiters on those major social networks anymore. Candidates are also thinking more about what they want; there are always candidates who are motivated by monetary aspects, but from a technology perspective it’s changed a lot, and candidates are now more focused on what tech they will be working with, what they can learn and what is the project about. Finally, candidates have also changed in terms of relocation trends; in Central and Eastern Europe people are more tied to where they live – it’s not like Western Europe or the UK where people are more willing to relocate.


TR: What are the ramifications of these changes for recruiters?

JH: The fact that candidates are moving to different social networks means sourcing is more fragmented. Seven years ago, you could go to LinkedIn and find almost anyone you needed, if you knew how and you knew the market, but today if you don’t have the right tools or proper training then it’s a lot more difficult to gain a unified picture of the talent pool. All of this also creates big pressure on the recruiters in terms of their self-development, and there is a lot more pressure on having to be much better than your competitors. And, in general, the competition is definitely increasing which obviously makes it more difficult!


TR: With this in mind, do you believe that technical candidates are harder to source and/or engage now, as a result of the rise in digital and technology? 

JH: In terms of sourcing, technology has changed everything, not least when it comes down to sourcing tools and platforms that are using machine learning and artificial intelligence. All of these advances mean that it is actually easier to do our jobs; nowadays it isn’t difficult to find candidates, but it is much more difficult to engage them. There is so much more data available, and so many more tools to help up piece the data together and source the people, but actually convincing an individual to have a conversation with you is the tough part. Today, you have to approach around 100 developers in the CEE region to make one placement.


TR: So, why do you think this engagement piece is so difficult now? How are you working to overcome this at blue-infinity?

JH: LinkedIn is flooded with messages from so many companies, that candidates are pretty much turning their InMails off! Candidates just don’t use the platform to engage anymore because there is so much going on, and so many people trying to get their attention, that it’s deafening. 

At blue-infinity we are focused on investing in and implementing new tools, and also harnessing the data that we have in order to make our outreach as relevant as possible. We are also investing in our ATS and working with candidates that we already know because we know they’re more likely to reply to our messages. Finally, we’re trying to build communities – both online and offline We’re inviting candidates to various Salesforce events and MeetUps, because that’s becoming one of the only ways to find and engage with people on a regular basis, and trying to nurture them by sending relevant blogs, news and case studies – rather than just hitting them with a cold approach.


TR: You mentioned there being a lot more data available; what has the impact of this been on the need for personalisation?

JH: Personalisation is definitely more evolved, and there are a lot more tools that enable you to personalise your outreach. But, as a result, the expectation is higher. Compare this to 2012, for instance, when all you had to do was insert a candidate’s name, company, position etc and they might have been impressed; now you have to spend a lot more time digging information out and using it in a clever way to show that you haven’t just automated the outreach.


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

JH: Absolutely; I think that this year is going to be all about automation or machine learning in candidate outreach; although this will be a struggle in niche languages such as Czech. So, although it’s highly likely that people won’t build these tools in those languages, I do still think that technology is going to heavily influence source talent and data analytics. One interesting thing is chatbots which, although it’s less suitable for the world of IT because there are such niche requirements, I do still think this technology will revolutionise sourcing and the candidate experience by harnessing AI and machine learning. 


TR: What other emerging trends are you seeing in the talent acquisition industry?

JH: I think there is a huge increase in the application of psychological aspects to HR, and I also think we’re going to see an increase in technologies around technical checks, and I can see a hole in the market for companies who are offering online tools for testing developers for example. The second thing I think we’ll see is some sort of tool for personalised outreach, but we are still quite far off from this because the technology just isn’t used widely enough. And, although it would be great to have something like this in Czech, again it’s very difficult and it will be highly recognisable if something is personalised through automation because of the amount of specific information you need to use in outreach now. Another emerging trend will be the area of HR Data Analytics and how to use data in the sourcing and recruitment; we currently use some statistics in our ATS systems to measure our recruitment funnels, and Linkedin also has its own statistics, but I thin that we will see a solution emerging in the future that will be able to forecast some of our activities and analyse data that we have in a better way.