Hays Ireland MD Richard Eardley
Richard Eardley, MD, Hays Ireland. Photo by Luke Maxwell

Unconscious bias and bad branding can hurt employers’ recruitment prospects

21 Oct 2015

At the launch of a Hays Talent Solutions report on the current state of resourcing in Ireland, Hays Ireland MD Richard Eardley identified seven key components impacting recruitment, and where the pitfalls and opportunities lie.

More than 150 leading organisations in Ireland were consulted in researching the State of Resourcing Report, which establishes the most important components in effective resourcing as well as how firms estimate their own capabilities in hitting these points.

The result is a measured capability gap between the ranked importance of a factor of resourcing and a company’s ability to deliver on it.

“There are some sectors that are delivering over and above but, on the whole, you can see there’s a gap that organisations need to be aware of,” said Richard Eardley, managing director of Hays Ireland, as he presented the report’s findings on on 20 October.

Hays’ report is a wake-up call for HR professionals who are facing the challenges of a changing market. While once it was sufficient to post a vacancy to a jobs board to source talent, new technology and a new kind of candidate have left some firms struggling to keep up.

“Now that the market has changed and organisations need to be much more proactive, this is where they seem to be falling down,” said Eardley.

Reputation is a HR concern, not just PR

One particular component of effective resourcing that was, as Eardley put it, without a lot of good news, was employer branding.

“Across the board, nobody was really delivering against the importance of employer brand,” he said.

‘Organisations have distinct consumer brands and employment brands, and you need to mind your employment brand in the same way that you mind your consumer brand’

Branding is not a new concept, but it is something that companies are traditionally used to associating with customer relations, not human resources.

However, in this new two-way recruitment market, Eardley explained, candidates are in the driving seat.

“The time was when, if you had an established brand, if people consumed your products, used your services, that maybe was enough to draw people towards your organisation. But now, I think, organisations have distinct consumer brands and employment brands, and you need to mind your employment brand in the same way that you mind your consumer brand,” said Eardley.

Eardley reminded those gathered at the breakfast seminar in the Marker Hotel that the internet has created platforms for unsolicited but very public feedback, and this includes employers. Take RateMyBoss.com, Glassdoor and Indeed, for example.

‘If you’re not managing that employment brand, you may well find that people just aren’t coming to you’

“If you’re ignoring that, I think you’re missing a trick, because candidates don’t ignore it when they are researching what kind of organisations they want to work for. They don’t just look at your website, they don’t just talk to people like us – they go online,” Eardley warned.

“If you’re not curating that, if you’re not managing that employment brand, you may well find that people just aren’t coming to you because of things other people are saying.”

Conquering unconscious bias in the recruitment pipeline

Eardley also made a valid point about talent acquisition as a key factor, and how unconscious biases can counter a firm’s effectiveness in this area.

Hays has done research into this matter and, as part of an exercise conducted in Australia, sent an identical software developer CV to a number of large organisations bar one solitary difference: half of the CVs bore a woman’s name, and the other half had a male name.

“Not surprisingly – and it’s kind of disappointing that it wasn’t surprising – the bloke got twice as many interview offers.”

The reason this isn’t so alarming is that it confirms what many in the industry already know, and Eardley encouraged recruiters to acknowledge these subtle prejudices and work to counteract them throughout the process.

“It’s not just about how we’re finding people, it’s how we’re then dealing with them when they get into the pipeline, and are we ensuring that we’ve got open minds, that we’re challenging the status quo within our organisations, that we’re challenging line managers and recruiters to really make sure they are looking at the full capabilities of people and not just adopting their unconscious bias in the recruitment process.”

Looking for tech jobs in Ireland? Check out our Featured Employers section for information on companies hiring right now.

Elaine Burke
By Elaine Burke

Elaine Burke was editor of Silicon Republic until 2023, and is now the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. Elaine joined Silicon Republic in 2011 as a journalist covering gadgets, new media and tech jobs. She later served as managing editor before stepping up as editor in 2019. She comes from a background in publishing and is known for being particularly pernickety when it comes to spelling and grammar – earning her the nickname, Critical Red Pen.

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