In the last few years, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in how companies hire. Global talent shortages combined with belt-tightening across organisations are putting pressure on recruiters and talent acquisition professionals, who are often tasked with finding the proverbial ‘needle in a haystack’. Here, we talk to Referoo Director and experienced recruiter Chris Hunter about ‘recruiter’ burnout, what’s causing it and what can be done about it.
According to Hunter, the role of recruiters and talent acquisition professionals has changed significantly in the last decade.
“Once, these roles were far more focused on a transactional recruitment process, a source, screen, interview, repeat type of thing. The modern TA professional is so much more – they are consultants on skill needs and gaps, talent and people strategists, hiring process designers and advisors on recruitment and work trends.
“And in many cases, they are all of this, on top of executing the actual recruitment process itself.”
Hunter says the demands of the job were exacerbated by the pandemic.
“During the pandemic, the impact on TA professionals varied depending on their industry. For some, such as healthcare, demand grew exponentially and the workload followed. For others, such as those in retail, work paused and uncertainty reigned.
“Then, in the aftermath, talent acquisition professionals were pivotal to recovery, refilling these roles at speed while also rejigging people and talent strategies for a post-pandemic world.”
And now, Hunter says, a perfect storm of talent shortages and a challenging economic climate for business is taking its toll.
“Many recruitment professionals are seeing budgets being cut while also trying to find talent in a candidate-short marketplace. It’s creating a challenging landscape,” Hunter says.
And while Hunter acknowledges that it is incumbent upon individuals to adapt to a changing world, he says it’s also important for organisations and leaders to recognise the depth of that change and the toll it can take.
While we often shy away from using the term ‘burnout’, Hunter points out that it may be an apt description of what is happening to some talent acquisition professionals in today’s landscape.
The World Health Organization deems burnout an ‘occupational phenomenon’, highlighting that ‘It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job’.
“There is no denying that the demands on the job are increasing, and many TA professionals are facing increasing pressure, and it’s been that way for some time. The pandemic only exacerbated that,” he says.
In fact, an SHRM article highlighted recruiter burnout as a growing issue as early as 2019.
And while it is a growing issue, Hunter says part of the solution lies in technology.
While he highlights that there are certainly other issues at play when it comes to recruiter burnout, inefficiencies in your hiring process can be a major contributor.
“When we are asking our talent acquisition teams to wear so many vastly different hats, it’s important to look at the less strategic work and where we can create efficiencies,” Hunter explains.
“We really want to leverage their expertise in key areas, from engaging high-potential candidates to building the talent strategy. So, it just makes sense that we would shift some of the transactional and administrative tasks that don’t need this level of expertise.”
And he says these are the processes that are crying out for technological advancement.
“We often talk about the risks of automation replacing people, but actually what it should do is relieve some of these transactional pressure points, so people can focus on addressing adaptive challenges and retain all-important work-life balance,” Hunter says.
Referoo, the company Hunter co-founded with business partner Neil Rose, automates the reference- and background-checking process. And while Hunter recognises that this is just one part of the hiring process, he says the time and productivity gains on reference-checking alone are remarkable.
“We are seeing organisations save tremendous amounts of time on just this one piece of the puzzle. So, imagine what can be achieved if you look across the recruitment process.”
Hunter emphasises that it is important to start by thinking about how tech can enable more efficiencies to reduce stress on your people.
“We are asking talent acquisition professionals to surmount significant challenges as the talent war continues, and it’s important to ensure that any technology or resource investments alleviate pressure for those at the coalface,” he concludes.