Camino Partners recently had a virtual sit down with Ben Browning of Resonant Recruitment Development, where he shared some of his best insights into recruitment L&D. This article, the first in a series where we bring you his perspective, discusses on the trends in recruitment L&D content and delivery, the effects of COVID-19 and his predictions for the future.
Pre-pandemic, the main focus was on “nuanced skills for experienced recruiters to keep them engaged and progressing in their careers”, says Ben.
Ben highlights “the rise of psychology”, a field where significant untapped potential for growth and evolution of recruiters lies. In an industry where soaring highs and tough-to-handle lows come with the territory, a deeper understanding of the mindset of top performers represents a new frontier for learning and development.
In particular, he points to the work of Dan Alexander, a recruitment coach who hosts the NeuroRecruiter podcast. Alexander notes that there is often little surface-level difference between average billers and top-level performers in terms of workrate and who they talk to, and attempting to understand why led him to examine the psychology of recruitment. He explores topics such as mindfulness and neuro-semantics to understand the secrets of high performance, and applies these to practical recruitment scenarios that appear in day-to-day working life.
Ben also notes that ‘soft skills’ had returned to prominence, led by industry figures such as Rhonda D’Ambrosio. D’Ambrosio founded the non-profit Mental Health in Recruitment, seeking to demonstrate the value of emphasising emotional intelligence - not just for the wellbeing of employees but also for its positive effect on business performance.
However, the strength of the post-pandemic market has seen a marked shift in demand. The desire for nuanced training to develop the abilities of experienced recruiters has been displaced by the “influx of new recruiters to the industry”, Ben says.
The need to bring these new recruits up to scratch rapidly means that recruitment companies are now seeking efficient, high-quality basic training as their biggest priority. “The volume of hiring means that developing entry-level consultants quickly and effectively is at a premium”, states Ben.
For established recruiters, market abundance means sales training has taken a back seat, as “most recruiters are now very busy with high job volumes and strong pipelines”. Ben labels the biggest challenges for consultants today as “converting opportunities, sourcing candidates and managing client’s expectations”, and he has seen a corresponding rise in demand for training in these areas.
This does not mean business development training has been rendered obsolete, however. The current strength of the market has seen “a rise in businesses looking to do more work on their own terms”, says Ben. He has seen considerable interest from clients in developing their ability to “win better business, rather than just more business”.
In Ben’s opinion, “appetite for learning platforms had peaked” before COVID-19. Companies still understood the value of learning management systems, but there was an increased trend in using these to “augment face-to-face training”, rather than simply for microlearning.
Unsurprisingly, the pandemic gave learning platforms a boost as remote learning became the norm. But Ben points out that while microlearning has had a resurgence, “the strength of remote live sessions has dramatically improved”. Learning platforms now offer more live content. But in his opinion, “the impact of remote live learning and video-based learning is still unclear”.
As office usage continues to rise again, L&D delivery is beginning to return to the trends observed pre-pandemic, where remote and micro learning supplemented face-to-face sessions. Interestingly, Ben notes that the current hybrid system that many firms employ, featuring a split of time between home and the office, means that face-to-face sessions have further increased in value due to the opportunity they provide to “collaborate and share ideas in a learning environment”. Overall he is optimistic about the hybrid system’s L&D potential, arguing that the split between remote and face-to-face learning allows for both “agility and impact”.
Looking to the future
One consistent underlying factor in L&D before, during and after the pandemic has been data, which continues to grow in utility. Analytics products are “providing leaders with better tools to understand consultant performance”, meaning “many recruitment leaders are moving away from traditional KPIs”. It is a safe bet to assume that as technology continues to improve, it will only become more integral to companies’ ability to assess and improve their consultants. As it stands, data analytics largely focus on quantitive methods (tracking call times etc.), but according to Ben, “automated qualitative analytics could well be the next breakthrough”.
One likely example is call recordings. Ben expects the current shift away from traditional L&D exercises such as role play and towards “more dynamic modalities” to continue. “The phenomenal rise of call listening as a talent development tool”, in particular, is a potential new avenue for technology use, as an AI that can carry out call assessments seems “quite feasible” in the near future, he believes.
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