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Gain Insights

Welcome to The Digital Age: the technology trends changing recruitment

Posted by: Mat Roche - Director & Co-Founder

Talent acquisition is going through a period of immense change as the world moves towards the digital economy.

This new age of recruitment is characterised by next generation digital technologies, all of which are redefining how in-house and agency recruiters can now access new pools of talent.

Understanding these changes require getting to grips with something we describe as the three eras of recruitment. If we look back in time, we will see there have been 3 distinct periods of recruitment, each of which have shaped how recruiters source talent: The Analogue Age, The Age of Spray and Pray, and The Digital Age.

The Analogue Age began in the 1980s when the only technology tools available were landline telephones, fax and franking machines, the postal service and print media. This meant that recruiters had to create top quality internal networks, build a credible brand, develop strong one-on-one relationships with candidates and clients, and head-hunt talent. This was the era of professional recruiters, reliant on a sourcing methodology centred around skilled techniques.

The second era, The Age of Spray and Pray, began in the late 1990s and was fuelled by the internet and email. The heady rush of web 1.0 and eventually LinkedIn replaced valuable interpersonal skills. The result was a plethora of online CV databases, non-specific job boards, and a culture of bulk emails distributed with little care by poorly skilled recruiters.

With these two eras now behind us, The Digital Age of recruitment is now underway. Hiring has gotten harder, and the best talent is more difficult to recruit than ever before because people are increasingly changing the way they manage their careers and look for work as society goes digital.

Recruiters now need to do two things: First, upskill, and embrace again attributes from the Analogue Age like interpersonal communication, relationship building and networking.

The second, arm themselves with a new eco-system of tech tools that are vastly different to the mainstream tools used today such as LinkedIn, email, CV databases, and job boards. 

To do this, recruiters must ensure they are aware of the main tech trends and how to leverage the next generation recruitment technologies that now exist in order to get the upper hand.

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As we move into The Digital Age and beyond, those recruiters paying attention to recruitment technological transformation will achieve success. We’ve spoken to some of the leading heads of recruitment in the UK for their insight on the most effective apps for sourcing talent, and the trends that look set to change the recruitment industry in the future:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Chatbots

The power and significance of AI in society is increasing drastically, and with Google’s Deepmind system now regularly beating world champions of strategy game Go, it won’t be long before this advanced tech trickles down into the mainstream. In terms of the recruitment industry we believe AI will impact in two key ways:

  • AI and machine learning can continuously learn and adapt in response to received information, which will enable recruiters and internal recruitment teams to collect and analyse huge amounts of data. Across social platforms, email and instant messaging, all of the data collected and analysed in real time will provide competitively advantageous insights into talent databases.
  • The automation of repetitive and routine tasks is also set to make AI a key element of recruitment workflows, candidate sourcing, and CV screening. Recruitment chatbots are emerging as a significant technology for the industry. Chatbot services offer the ability to sift through thousands of CVs, ask candidates questions, provide them with updates, and deliver messages from recruiters. One chatbot in particular, Job Pal, is helping recruiters hire candidates by matching them with the most suitable jobs based on their answers to specific questions, designed to find out key information. By automating these time-consuming, high-volume tasks, recruiters and internal teams can free themselves up to focus on more strategic aspects of their role. 

Virtual Reality & Holographic Computing

As the balance of power continues to shift from employer to candidate due to increased demand for tech skills combined with a smaller talent pool, internal recruitment teams will need to shift their focus to improve both engagement and retention strategies; what we call the Candidate Experience (CX).

Virtual reality (VR) has the potential to play a significant role here. The ability for employers to offer candidates VR tours of their offices for example, will provide an  immersive, memorable experience serving as an authentic indicator of a company. With this tech, candidates have the potential to experience different job roles within a company, or indeed an overseas office without having to board a plane.

A great example of this is Microsoft’s HoloLens, which uses holographic computing to immerse users into a variety of incredibly detailed virtual and holographic experiences. The ability to offer an inside view has already proven successful in increasing engagement, a trend which is set to continue.


Effective use of data to glean insights into candidates enables businesses to have a clearer picture of the talent they are working with. It will also enable them to track their channels more effectively, to work out which sources lead to new hires, what their ideal candidate profile looks like, and match skills to open positions with ease.

Google reviewed its recruitment process by using available data to analyse tens and thousands of its historical job interviews. The review carried out by Google helped determine the attributes that tend to make a successful Google candidate, in turn enabling them to re-evaluate their whole recruitment process and design it to source the best candidates available.

New ways of manipulating data are being developed constantly. In time, smarter use of talent data will expand recruiting metrics beyond time-to-hire and cost-per-hire, to longer-term metrics that measure performance, fit, tenure and retention.


As with data, it should come as no surprise that mobile is becoming an increasingly important recruitment tool. It’s already a critical element of the candidate experience (CX) yet according to LinkedIn, only 13% of employers are adequately investing in their mobile recruitment capabilities. Creating a mobile-friendly experience for jobseekers goes beyond mobile-optimised sites; many are losing opportunities because they don’t fully understand the scope and potential of mobile. To put it in numbers: 72% of active candidates visit a company’s site via mobile to learn about career opportunities and 45% of candidates have applied for a job via a mobile device.

In-house recruiting teams and agencies need to keep abreast of what is effectively a new technology platform for recruitment if they are to stay competitive in today’s Digital Age of recruitment. 

Recruiters must be comfortable using and adapting their existing techniques to incorporate a new set of technologies ranging from innovative sourcing apps, to next generation digital recruiting platforms. We’re calling the process Recruitment Transformation. 

This agility does require a certain amount of resource, but the return on investment is clear: An ability to source the right talent, at the right time, in what is the most competitive labour market in history.

Talent Pooling and Social Sourcing Platforms

As social media continues to dominate elements of almost every industry, recruiters too can tap into the social web as a way of sourcing the top candidates.

CVs alone are no longer considered a sufficient way of qualifying candidates. It is only by looking at a candidate’s online presence on professional networks and online communities that a recruiter is able to get the best understanding of candidates. By taking the time to look through a person’s social presence recruiters can spend less time sourcing from larger and inefficient talent pools.

Social platforms also provide an ideal arena for engaging with talent. If done properly and intelligently recruiters are able to connect with both active and passive candidates. This opens the recruitment field up to a richer selection of candidates, something much needed in a time where the talent pool is shrinking both is volume and quality. Whilst this inevitably means spending time cutting through the noise of social media, there are plenty of software tools that can help you find the most dynamic candidates. The personal nature of social media also facilitates more fluid and flexible recruiter-candidate communication.

Contextual Marketing

By incorporating information such as search engine terms and recent web-browsing activity, users can be sent targeted, relevant online ads. This is something everyone reading this blog will have experienced.

Incorporating this technology into recruitment processes can be a great way of connecting with relevant candidates who are actively searching for a position you are trying to fill. The automatic, targeted ads can run in the background, leaving recruiters with more time to focus on strategy and relationship building.   

Want to know more? Read our tech tips for recruiters to find out most insightful apps and platforms

AI Content Creation

New AI tech is forever emerging with improved content creation capabilities.  As AI technology rapidly becomes more sophisticated it can be deployed not only to monitor content consumption, but also to learn from it.

Developments in Natural Language Processing (NLP) mean computers are now better than ever at analysing and imitating the way we speak, making AI more viable in content generation. With an increased demand for regular content, recruiters often get bogged down drafting emails, writing job bulletins and other marketing collateral that is being used to engage talent. By harnessing AI’s burgeoning content creation abilities recruiters can be free to focus on more complex activities.  

Gamified Assessments

Psychometric tests are a standard element in the recruitment process. But as we continue through to the digital age, recruiters are looking to shake up this arguably dated method, one which is also disliked by the majority of applicants.

Gamification has grown increasingly popular across multiple sectors and new gamified assessment technology has the potential to enhance the recruitment process. Games can be used to challenge candidates as they compete to score points, all whilst simultaneously providing instant feedback to the recruitment team on their skills, traits and behaviours. Games can also be tailored to meet the needs of specific job criteria, making them a flexible alternative to traditional tests.

By using appropriate gamified assessments which enable fair and objective candidate selection, gamification also makes the recruitment process more immersive and engaging for the candidate, significantly improving the CX. These techniques have been particularly helpful in helping potential candidates to understand what day-to-day life would involve. Both the Marriott Hotel chain and  Formapost, the French postal company, have used games that simulate the work environment.

Assessment validation technology

Making sure candidates meet the specific requirements needed for a role is a major priority for recruiters. Technology that allows recruiters to collect more accurate data about what activities people do in a job and the skills needed to succeed is a great way to make the recruitment process more accurate and efficient. As assessment validation becomes smarter, it is even possible to use algorithms to predict a candidate’s attributes by analysing their social media profiles.

AI and VR have also contributed to more realistic recruitment assessments. With the opportunity to participate in virtual face-to-face role plays during the early stages of the selection process, recruiters are able to qualify candidates more efficiently.

As we enter into the third era of recruitment, and move on to the third platform of recruitment technology, internal teams and agencies alike need to be aware of new trends and developments in RecTech to adapt to the changing market for talent. All will help maximise their chances of accessing the highly qualified candidates that their organisations, or client’s need.   

Download our ebook to discover the latest and most innovative recruitment tech you should be taking advantage of that has the power to transform your ability to access new pools of talent

Alternatively, contact us now to see how Third Republic can help you fill critical resourcing gap..