LOOKING BACK, LOOKING FORWARD: A Q&A WITH NAS CEO, PHIL RIDOLFI

Posted by Lori Vrcan on Dec 27, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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As we end 2018 and look ahead to 2019, we decided to get some thoughts from NAS Recruitment Innovation’s CEO, Phil Ridolfi. In the following Q&A, he reflects on the year that is ending and talks about what trends he expects for the coming year.

What is your big-picture summary of what has happened in recruiting and talent management over the past year and what are some of the challenges you’ve seen across our client base?

The biggest thing that has happened is that the demand for candidates now exceeds the supply. This trend has been growing over the last few years, but this year, it hit an inflection point where there are a lot of open positions and fewer and fewer candidates.

One of the biggest challenges our clients face is the tendency to feel that they need to change their ATS or other HR-related system because they are not 100% satisfied. In many cases, I think they would be better off staying where they are, and make sure they are working with an agency, like NAS, who has their best interests in mind and works with them to provide ways to improve their recruitment process. Changing systems is extremely time consuming and often results in minor improvements.

Would you say that most companies are moving toward a more strategic and proactive approach, or are we still stuck in a reactive mode?

Some organizations are still in a reactive mode; others are not. There are lot of HR organizations that are moving in a strategic way. Some HR professionals are so incredibly busy that they have no choice but to be reactive. At NAS, that’s what we do best: address our clients’ needs and help them to move in a strategic fashion.

What are some of the basics that are still important and that remain core strategies for recruitment marketing?

The basics that are important are a reflection of the NAS mission statement: We optimize candidate attraction through storytelling, technology and strategy. These are three vital components to recruitment success. There will always be new and different ways to achieve recruitment goals. But storytelling, technology and strategy are timeless focal points that I don’t think will ever change.

What are some of the newer ways our clients have been approaching recruitment marketing to attract candidates this past year?

Programmatic advertising has become prevalent in 2018. It’s a much more cost-effective and efficient way for our client partners to allocate their spend. It just makes sense to allocate the majority of their dollars to jobs that need the most attention, utilizing the job boards or sites that are most impactful.

With NAS MediaPro, we’ve been able to offer clients three-to-four-month trials to help them get acclimated. And every client has either stuck with it or expanded programmatic advertising. We believe it will continue to have a huge impact in recruitment in the coming year and foreseeable future.

AI was a big topic at industry shows this year. Where do you see it going for recruitment?

What we’re doing now with our partner Olivia/Paradox is a great start, and there are additional applications that can make the recruitment process even more efficient. We’re using Olivia like a tour guide on the career site, helping candidates find jobs, answering questions and providing links to specific areas, such as benefits. Our client LongHorn Steakhouse has implemented it on their career site and we’re eager to see how it performs.

However, there’s more that can be done with AI, such as streamlining the application process for many positions so that the process takes only five to 10 minutes, instead of an hour or more. Overall, I think AI will become more sophisticated and more widespread in both the near future and in the long term.

What else is on recruitment marketing professionals’ minds?

Personalizing the candidate experience as much as possible and focusing on an organization’s employment brand will be continuing trends. I recently spoke with a client who talked about how strong their marketing brand is, but their employment brand has lagged behind and is not so well defined. Research shows that their employees like working there. But they have not had the same success conveying their employment value proposition as they have with their marketing. It’s all about creating the right framework and using the right strategies to get the message out to candidates.

What are some of the services and offerings NAS has added or expanded this year and how are they being received?

As I mentioned earlier, NAS MediaPro has really taken off this year. In addition, this is the second full year of our new version of the ACTIVATE™ candidate attraction platform. Clients love the new platform and it’s been very well received in the marketplace. We’ve continued to offer new features and enhancements, and it’s easier for both us and our clients to manage.

We have also expanded our expertise in pay-per-click (PPC), geo-fencing and retargeting, which have become more and more effective tools for our clients. More than 60% of our business is now digitally based, and that percentage will continue to increase. There will always be a place for job postings. But as our clients try to reach candidates on a more personalized level, digital becomes more prominent. At NAS, we pay attention to what is going on with our clients, listen to what their challenges are and align them with what’s available.

If you could give our clients some simple advice for 2019, what would it be?

Step back from daily roar, and take a look at the candidate experience you are offering. The best way to find quality candidates is to focus on what their experience is entering and navigating your organization’s recruitment process. Make it easy for them to find a job and understand your organization. If you focus on the candidate, everything else will fall into place.

Lori Vrcan

With more than 25 years of experience at NAS, Lori Vrcan, Senior Creative Strategist, has extensive knowledge and understanding of recruitment challenges and solutions. Her expertise includes interactive, print, video and radio projects across all disciplines, including several national award-winning campaigns.