Effectiveness of Recruiter populations and how technology can help

Google was recently named Fortune’s best company to work for 2012 and a recent survey carried out by reed.co.uk they came 3rd in the companies people most want to work for in the UK. The business hired over 8000 people last year across the world and in a piece published recently by Fortune Tech some of the details of this achievement were shared.

That all is not perfect will be no surprise to those of you who work in either technology or recruiting, especially in an organisation like Google that is growing so fast. The figure that staggered me was that in estimates of both permanent and contract recruiters globally Google has 1 recruiter for every 64 staff members. To put this in context the Corporate Executive Board estimates that an average large corporate would have somewhere in the region of 1 recruiter to every 577 staff members. That is quite a difference.
There are so many things you can admire about Google. For me, maintaining the simplicity of the front page is a triumph in both design and consistency. The fact that even having reached the size they have they maintain the 20% time that allows employees to spend a portion of their time on non-core projects (which has lead to amongst others Google Maps, Gmail and Streetview) and that even. The final thing I really admire is that they still admit failure – when they try something and it doesn’t work they withdraw it and move on (Wave & Buzz to name but two).

I was watching interviews on YouTube recently and came across this clip from Zeitgeist 2008 where then CEO Eric Schmidt is hosting an interview with the two founders Larry Page (now CEO) and Sergey Brin and they are responding to questions on how they operate Google. There are loads of interesting information contained but between the 14th & 15th minute Larry talks briefly about HR systems….

The point he makes I think is very interesting. If you think about what he said, he didn’t talk about automating performance review – he talked about automating ensuring everyone’s performance review is completed. I think that is a really important distinction.

With a technology solution for seemingly everything these days I think sometimes the distinction between what can be automated and what should be automated blurs and things slip over ‘the line’ that should still be very much on the ‘human’ side. For example, scheduling an interview is a non-value adding task and if you can automate completion of that then fantastic. At the same time it is easy to fall into the trap of automating too much of your candidate screening process and that carries with it a number of risks – putting people off with onerous questioning, screening out great candidates on over specific questioning, not building a pool of candidates because no one but the perfect match makes it to viewing live jobs. You get the idea…

Whether you can say Google are successful because their investment in talent attraction ensures they have the top talent is beyond the realms of either this post or Fortune Tech’s article but I think it’s interesting the quantum difference in their recruiter ratios and does this indicate that other corporates should be looking at areas where real human recruiters can add value and that only systems adaptable to meet their business need/growth should be part of their solution?

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