Sova in Ireland, one year on

by Gavin Mulcahy, Director – Ireland & UK, Sova

After working abroad in a number of different markets, I’ve been back in Ireland now for over a year, building Sova’s presence here, and it’s been fascinating to see how things have changed, as well as recognise the different challenges organisations face within Ireland. The market we operate in has changed substantially, with Ireland now approaching full employment and with a growing economy. Working in recruitment and talent acquisition in the past was always relatively straightforward, it being recruiter-led, and the focus being on selecting candidates for specific roles. I’m relishing the new challenges that a candidate-led market in a time of exponential change brings, and I’m very much enjoying being one of the few international assessment firms with a presence on the ground in Ireland… for now!

Attraction and retention of talent in a candidate-led market is crucial, and whilst some may consider assessment to be a barrier to recruiting the right talent, this is largely because of legacy assessment systems that are fragmented, opaque and don’t give enough insight into the role or organisation. We have been working on ensuring that not only is the candidate experience excellent, but by measuring for agility and ensuring candidates are matched to the values and culture of an organisation, the candidates that are able to flex and adapt in their roles are hired.

Competition for the right candidates is at an all-time high in Ireland and consequently there is a limited pool of top talent available to recruit. Candidates and the organisations that recruit them expect an engaging, fair and explainable selection process accessible from anywhere. Assessments, whether online or face to face, need to be insightful, offer a job preview, on brand, and ensure that technology is used to enable a seamless and positive experience.

Even if candidates are unsuccessful in their applications, ensuring that they have a positive experience of the organisation’s brand is key. A negative experience, is frequently linked to decreased revenue and detrimental impact on the employer brand. Candidates should receive appropriate and targeted feedback on their performance and be clear at all times where they stand in the application process.

With the pace of change happening at an exponential rate due to technology and shifting resources, not only in Ireland, but globally, we are finding more and more that clients are asking us how to address the challenges they face on organisational agility and transformation. We can measure these qualities of agility and transformation to ensure recruitment and talent development is aligned with a future-focused business strategy. This is particularly relevant when you need to retain good talent – by hiring people that can fit into multiple roles, change with an organisation, and lead from a place of flexibility and innovation, you can be sure those people will want to stay, and you’ll want them there for the long term.

I’m excited about our approach to AI and machine learning, and how I’m able to work with companies in Ireland to use this to help them find more best-fit employees, eliminate bias and make the whole recruitment journey more efficient and better for the candidate. By attaching a psychologist to a technology expert in developing our AI processes, we have been able to ensure machine learning and AI is used ethically, intelligently and responsibly to analyse data, generate data-led insights and accurately predict future high performers.

Elevating assessment from a transactional cog in a hiring process to something that’s more strategic and linked to clear business outcomes means that rather than hampering the process, organisations can lean on robust, future-focused systems. These create an immersive candidate experience and ultimately lead to increased efficiency of recruitment and assessment, reduced time to hire, improved quality of hire and better organisational fit, and importantly in this market, increased retention.