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Think afresh to reach 'pactive' talent, recruiters told

Companies are underselling their brand and overlooking both 'passive' and active job candidates, by use of outdated recruitment methods.

In-house recruiters can make or break a business but are rewarded for "mediocrity" and will continue to be seen as the "poor cousins of HR" if they fail to embrace new recruiting methods, warns Matthew Jeffery, head of EMEA talent acquisition and global talent brand, at technology firm, Autodesk.

Too many recruiters still rely on active jobseekers, pursuing what Jeffery calls 'Recruitment 1.0 and 2.0' strategies, based on traditional recruiting, agencies and online job boards and CV searches. The candidates they are reaching – those who are registered with agencies, applying for jobs and watching job boards – make up only 10% of the labour market.

With everyone seeking the best talent, it means employers are fighting for it in a small pool of active jobseekers, he says.

"Key recruitment leaders are happy to maintain the status quo," Jeffery said. "As long as they do so, they will be HR's poorer cousins."

Instead, recruiters need to demonstrate the unique selling point of their company to engage the 90% of "pactive" candidates. These, he said, are the passive/active majority who are happy in their job but who, if approached with the right opportunity, would turn active.

"It is our job to create the candidates," said Jeffery. "We need to differentiate ourselves. You don't go to a supermarket and see black and white packaging, yet we're guilty of that in our employer brand offerings.

"Companies need to build communities to reach 'pactive' candidates. There will be many in those communities who will not be right as an employee, but they will add value to a company as employment brand champions," he said.

Using social media – so-called 'Recruitment 3.0' – moves recruitment forwards but this now needs to be taken to the next level, Jeffery argued. Recruitment 4.0 moves recruitment from being a cost centre to a profit centre, with the "death" of the applicant tracking system and of recruiting agencies, the use of gamification in recruitment and the use of crowdsourcing to enable members of your community to generate names for you.

All of this requires a company to have a deep understanding of its brand, according to Jeffery. He said that Autodesk, which creates 3D design software for manufacturing, construction, engineering and entertainment, is working on a new careers site designed internally, as external agencies could not understand the brand sufficiently.

Not content with Recruitment 4.0, Jeffery said he was turning his thoughts to 5.0, in which augmented reality (which blurs the line between what's real and what's computer-generated) will take centre stage and give candidates a better experience of the business.

"People are leaving their personal DNA footprints all over the web. You could link facial recognition, captured through a mobile phone, back to someone's LinkedIn profile, for example," he said.

Jeffery was speaking at a conference organised by LinkedIn at which the professional social network unveiled research on the most sought-after employer in the UK. Google came top of the employer ranking, followed by the BBC, Unilever, Shell and BP. Other companies in the top 20 included Apple, John Lewis, Burberry, GSK, Marks and Spencer, Tesco, BAE Systems and ASOS.

The ranking was based on billions of interactions among LinkedIn's 10 million UK members. Worldwide, the network has more than 175 million members.