Responding to changing expectations of future talent at BP

Written by
Julia Harvie-Liddel

23 Oct 2018

23 Oct 2018 • by Julia Harvie-Liddel

Julia Harvie-Liddel, global head of resourcing at BP, outlines how you can respond to the changing expectations of future talent.

Millennials, or Generation Y, now account for more than 15% of the total global workforce, and by 2025, this will rise to 75%.

Recruiters’ mindsets have had to shift to take into account that millennials are no longer just the graduates of today, but are increasingly moving into the experienced hires bracket. We are also starting to see the first cohort of Centennials, or Generation Z, graduating from university, who are digital natives, and this is again forcing mindsets to shift further still. 

Recruitment strategies have had to adapt, taking into account what these new generations want, with digital technology having arguably the biggest impact. As candidates increasingly come to expect convenience and mobile experiences, it is fair to say that digital has changed recruitment forever. 

The impact of digital innovation on recruitment 

The rise of digital technology has forced companies to take a more personalised approach to recruitment.

Digital has made it possible to target audiences much more precisely with talent communications content. This is a great advantage, as it ensures that your content is seen by the right people and allows recruiters to create much more relevant, bespoke content.

We’ve seen some really innovative examples of personalised talent communications, such as McDonalds promoting their own employee advocacy stories via Snapchat.

Beyond social platforms, companies are also using new and emerging consumer technologies, such as Virtual Reality (VR) in their recruitment processes to attract applications. For example, the British Army is using VR headsets at graduate recruitment events  to show a much higher level of realism and excite prospects.

The enduring value of face-to-face interaction

However, despite technology making it easier for students to interact with employers digitally, having face-time with prospective employers is still highly valued by students, and recruitment events are still one of the key platforms for this.

Even leading tech companies like Google hold open days and face-to-face recruitment sessions for potential employees, and every application they receive is reviewed by a member of staff.

But it’s not a case of one versus the other – it’s more about taking the learnings from our digital strategies, and applying them to physical events. To be successful, in-person recruitment events need to be personalised to the audience, and give them something back in return for their participation. 

Attracting female talent into engineering

Let me give an example from my own experience at BP. As a company operating in a traditionally male-dominated industry, one of our challenges is to engage more female graduates so that they apply to work with us. It’s a long-term challenge, but it’s something we’re firmly committed to overcoming.

Following research by High Fliers, which showed that female students are less confident than their male counterparts, we decided to run a series of networking events, offering personal brand workshops to female undergraduates, to help them find the confidence they need to pursue their chosen career.

Each participant receives a professionally taken LinkedIn headshot, which they can upload to their online profiles, as a thank you for taking part.

We’ve found these events to be valuable for us, as they allow us to engage with female talent at an early stage, but also equally valuable for the students themselves, as they have the opportunity to meet new people, develop their networking skills, and leave with advice that will help them in their future careers, wherever they may end up working. 

Despite the shifting demographic, face-to-face engagement and the chance to learn something new will be valuable to any job seeker, no matter what generation they’re from.

What does the future hold?

With the demands of talent continually evolving, recruitment is undergoing an exciting period of change. How do companies keep up with this shift and plan for the future? 

The first thing I would recommend is to review your current hiring practices. Instead of a telephone interview, consider video interviews to enable face-to-face discussion.

Other technologies such as VR, artificial intelligence and gamification are increasingly being used at various stages of the recruitment process, and I expect this trend to continue. 

New digital recruitment platforms and apps are also being brought out every day, so in order to keep up, think about attending industry conferences, reading relevant recruitment magazines, and discussing developments with your peers.

You can also ask for feedback from applicants, which allows you to tailor your recruitment process to the target talent, who can tell you directly about their preferred means of interacting with recruiters.

Staying on top of technology trends in recruitment will be increasingly important with “Generation Z” now entering the workforce – a group who have never experienced life without digital devices.

For this tech-savvy generation, growing up with the internet means they will be more sceptical of information they see online, so companies will need to find ways of reaching them in an authentic way – I see employee advocacy playing an even stronger role as we look to recruit the next generation of graduates.