Ana Izquierdo

In our latest profile of speakers at the AIM Group’s RecPlus conference taking place in Berlin March 1-2, 2018, please meet Ana Izquierdo, the CEO of Talent Clue.

Headquartered in Barcelona with clients in Europe and the North and South America, Talent Clue develops recruitment software that makes the most of inbound marketing techniques deployed elsewhere on the Internet. Talent Clue’s approach is to help companies reach out to potential candidates through social media and proactive employer branding, rather than simply post a job listing and hope for the best.

We asked Izquierdo for her take on the challenges and opportunities in the recruitment classified industry.

What unique challenges do you face in your market?

Ana Izquierdo: There are five main challenges we see. First, recruiting represents a great opportunity for Talent Clue, but the market is still immature in terms of technology adoption. Recruiters and hiring managers are under a lot of pressure to deliver, so they have little time to explore alternative ways of working, look for new software solutions or even stay up-to-date with recruiting trends. On top of that, technology is far from their core business, so it is not easy for them to change.

Second, most employers are not leveraging the power of their brand or their presence in social networks and they are not building connections with potential talent, so they just rely on “spray and pray strategies.” They post job offers in job boards and pray for the best candidates to apply.

There is a huge competition for talent in the market and recruiters know it, but they don’t know what to do. For us to be successful, we have to educate recruiters. They know they need to start doing things in a different way to stay competitive, so we create a lot of content and training material to help them.

Third, some companies continue to use Excel and Outlook to manage the selection process, not realizing that it’s inefficient and that it’s making them lose candidates, time and money. Companies as a whole are resistant to digital transformation, which means they print resumes and do all the work without a proper tool – it’s like we’re still in the 90s.

Fourth, big companies often already have tools for other human resources tasks like payroll and employee onboarding. The challenge here is to create a specialized tool with a clear goal that can integrate with a company’s other software. It’s better to do one thing amazingly than to try to do everything and deliver a poor product.

A final challenge is to improve the importance that companies give to recruiting in their overall business strategy. Building a winning team is a key success factor and the cost of a bad hire can be as much as €50,000 with a huge negative impact on the entire team. HR staff need more budget and a starring role in companies.

We see companies spend millions of Euros in marketing campaigns and then hurt their reputation because they treat a candidate badly or they didn’t reply to his or her messages. (These experiences get shared in social networks and, occasionally, go viral.) We help these companies improve their employer brand reputation by making their recruiting processes more human and placing the candidate in the center, with the right software and best practices.

What will you be speaking about in your presentation at RecPlus?

My talk is entitled “From investing in start-ups to running my own.” I will share my experiences and learnings after leaving HP – stepping out of a “safe” environment to discover the unknown – back in 2009, when the cloud, smartphones and apps were just appearing.

I have always been in love with technology, so I dove into the latest developments and explored ideas (one of those was building a coupon app). But the value proposition was not powerful enough to continue. In parallel, I co-founded Inveready First, a 5.5 million Euro seed fund, at a time when the tech startup ecosystem was developing here in Spain.

Based on my experience with the fund, I will share with the audience our strategy, how we analyzed projects to discover the best opportunities, and some of the learnings and mistakes we made.

One of the startups we invested in was SNTalent, a headhunter marketplace. I became a board member and got to know the hiring market and how technology could really become disruptive. However, the company’s revenue was not growing at the pace we wanted. Thanks to my background from the product world, I saw an opportunity to leverage the technology we had to build a SaaS Applicant Tracking System. I joined the company as CEO and co-founder.

As an entrepreneur of a tech startup, my view changed dramatically from my time at Inveready. I will share some of those experiences as well.

How big a part of your business will Artificial Intelligence become?

Recruiting teams are asked to do more with less time every day. “More” means posting job ads immediately, screening candidates and doing interviews quicker, and hiring the best and right talent for each position and company faster. The more job vacancies a company has, the more difficult this becomes to achieve.

Artificial Intelligence will play an important role in making recruiting goals easier to achieve for recruitment teams. With Talent Clue we want to make it easier for recruiters and candidates to find their best matches. Matching is not only a matter of skills but also a matter of culture and values. Recruiters build their own “talent pool” while using Talent Clue, and we enable them to keep these candidates engaged thanks to automatic communication and newsletters.

On top of that, the candidate profile is enriched with comments, interviews, test results, labels and public information, plus a candidate’s trajectory during the current and/or previous hiring process. Once there’s a need for a new hire, Talent Clue will automatically find the best candidates who have applied for similar jobs based on their enriched profiles and will rank them for the recruiter to evaluate. All the recruiter has to do is send an invitation. Based on the recruiters’ actions and the candidates’ responses, the algorithm continually improves the quality of the suggestions.

This will save companies time and money, shorten and make the selection process more efficient, and allow recruiters to focus on value-added tasks like interviewing and analyzing if a candidate shares the company’s values and company culture.

There are a lot of potential job seekers who follow brands they like on social media but are not interested in a specific job or are ready to apply for it. Talent Clue will use AI to help recruiters capture basic contact data to create a pool of leads that can be nurtured based on interest, location and more. Automatic personalized campaigns via notifications and email will deliver the right content and job offers at the right time.

We see a lot of changes in recruitment classifieds. What are the most interesting developments worldwide you’ve seen so far?

Many job seekers today are interested in working for specific companies. They follow them on social networks and then go straight to the companies’ careers page to learn about potential opportunities. This is different than in the past where candidates checked recruitment classifieds, searched for a specific job type and then tried to find information about the company.

Some job boards have adapted to this behavior by allowing companies to show a complete company profile. LinkedIn does this, for example. And now companies in the U.S. will be able to post openings and collect applications directly on their corporate Facebook pages.

In addition, everyone is used to checking reviews before buying or making a decision. What is a product or a hotel without a review? Companies like Glassdoor and Indeed show comments from workers and company ratings. Candidates don’t change a company for another that easily; they need to know other people’s experiences.

On the other hand, there has been an incredible growth in niche job boards, which attract specialized talent interested in specific industries. These kinds of candidates are the best in their fields and won’t check generalist job boards.

We also see an enhancement in matching algorithms in some job boards. Candidates, active or not, are more engaged because they’re provided with more relevant suggestions. As a result, they may be more willing to apply and keep their resumes updated on these sites. That’s valuable for job boards since they can provide recruiters with higher quality profiles.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges the recruitment classified industry faces in the next three years?

There’s a big war for talent between companies. Candidates have more access to information to learn about employers and to choose one job offer over another. So now, more than ever, recruitment has to be candidate-centric and recruitment classifieds have to adapt to it.

Candidates are interacting with their favorite companies through social media posts and publications. Through these publications, companies build a relationship by not only promoting their products or services, but by encouraging their followers to apply to job vacancies on the company’s own career pages. The challenge for recruitment classifieds, then, is to attract these candidates to their advertisements by offering more valuable and engaging information on their sites.

The traditional recruitment classifieds business model – where companies pay by the jobs posted – is outdated. In the old model, it doesn’t matter if a company receives 0 or 1,000 candidates (nor does the quality matter), they always pay the same amount. It makes more sense for recruitment classifieds to adapt more of a Google or Facebook-like business model and offer a pay-per-click or pay-per-candidate model.

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