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How Automation Can Improve the Recruitment Experience

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The right HR automation tools can greatly improve the recruitment process. 

Automation allows HR departments to speed up the recruitment process and devote more time and energy to people-centred tasks. However, while automation is incredibly useful, it can come with its own set of challenges. That’s why we recently hosted a webinar about HR automation. 

We spoke to HR leaders Sabrina Scherm from Novatti and Brett Holmes from The Royal Children’s Hospital to discuss their take on HR automation in the webinar. Both Sabrina and Brett told us about HR automation’s benefits and outlined common pitfalls to avoid. In this blog, we summarise key takeaways from the webinar.

What’s changed in the last 12 months?

Both Sabrina and Brett agreed a key challenge over the last twelve months has been the shift to a candidate-driven market. COVID-19 has caused talent pools to become smaller because of international travel restrictions. On top of this, the shift to remote work has led to candidates reassessing what they want out of work. Sabrina noted that many candidates want more than just remote or hybrid work options, they want flexible hours. For example, an employee may want to take time off during the day and make the hours up in the evening. 

Brett and his team have been working with a smaller candidate pool due to limited international employees working in the health sector. In response, Brett and his team have paid more attention to their employer value proposition (EVP) and speed to market. A stronger EVP attracts and retains more candidates and a quicker recruitment process ensures great talent is snatched up without delay. 

1. Overcoming recruitment challenges with technology

Both Sabrina and Brett have used technology to find talent in a smaller market, speed up their hiring process and hire remotely. 

2. Hiring remotely

Sabrina and her team have started using a number of screening tools to aid the remote recruiting process. For example, the Novatti team have plugged video features into their applicant tracking system (ATS) so candidates can send through short introduction videos. These videos provide details about a candidate’s personality and values which helps the Novatti team better assess cultural fit.

3. Speeding up the recruitment process 

Technology has helped both Brett and Sabrina’s teams speed up their recruitment processes. Both leaders gave a shout out to Xref. Reference checking used to take four to five days at the Royal Children’s Hospital. It now takes 24 to 48 hours. A huge time saving that is helping the team hire with more speed. Sabrina agrees that Xref helps speed up the recruiting and loves that it only takes one click to kick off the entire reference checking process. 

Here are some other tools that have helped both teams speed up their recruiting process: 

  • ATS 
  • Automated contract creation 
  • Online assessment tools 
  • Onboarding software 

These tools have helped both teams speed up their processes and convert candidates in a tight market. 

4. Finding talent in a smaller market

There has been a lot of talk in the recruitment space about the ‘Great Resignation’. In response, recruiting teams are investing in tools that help conduct employee surveys and pulse checks. By understanding what their employees want, businesses can work to make positive changes before people resign. Teams are also looking for talent in new places. For example, Brett recommends services like Talent Vine. Xref’s People Search function was also discussed. This function allows referees to opt in as potential candidates, giving recruiters an easy way to create a quality talent pool. 

The HR tasks that should be automated

Brett and Sabrina agreed on a list of tasks that are best suited to HR automation. They are: 

  • Employee and manager self-service for payroll tasks 
  • Onboarding 
  • Employee benefits 
  • Reference checking 

By automating these tasks, HR teams can save time and thus, increase the speed of their recruiting process. Automating the above tasks also adds rigour and built-in compliance to the recruitment process. 

What to look for in an HR automation tool?

According to Sabrina and Brett, there are four things you should look for in an HR automation tool: integration abilities, ease-of-use, customisation and data security. Here they are in more detail. 

1. Integration abilities

The key to any good automation is integration. Having the best HR tool in the world won’t matter if it doesn’t integrate with the rest of your system. If a tool isn’t integrated, you will likely shift manual work downstream which defeats the overall purpose of automation. 

2. Ease of use

The right HR automation tool should be easy to use for recruiters and candidates. If you need to rely on an external vendor to keep your system running, you’ll likely run into trouble. A great tool is able to be administered in-house. It’s even more important for the tool to be easy to use if it is candidate-facing. Candidates will drop out of the application process if it’s too hard. 

3. Customisation

A candidate shouldn’t feel like they are using a bunch of different platforms when they engage with your recruiting process. That’s why you should choose automation tools that allow you to customise them with your branding and tone of voice, at minimum. This keeps candidates engaged with your brand and allows you to build a stronger EVP. 

4. Data security

Most HR automation tools work in the cloud, this makes data security vital. If your organisation is international, you need a tool that will be compliant across the world. For example, a tool operating in Europe must be GDPR compliant. Similarly, if your team is scattered across the globe, you need to choose tools that operate everywhere. As Sabrina mentions, there’s no point using an employee benefits program that only works in one country if your employees are worldwide. 

Common automation errors to avoid

HR automation has many benefits but there are also common errors to avoid. Sabrina and Brett outline five pitfalls to avoid. 

1. Don’t automate a bad process

According to Brett, a bad process is still a bad process. Before you automate, take a look at your entire recruiting process. Would automation simply shift an issue from one person to another? Would it truly speed up your processes? By asking these questions you may find areas in your recruiting process you want to completely change before you begin automating tasks. 

2. Understand the impact of automation

Similar to the above, it’s important to understand how automation will impact your entire recruiting process and other teams processes as well. You might automate a HR task that doubles the finance team’s workload. Try to understand the entire picture before introducing automation tools into your process. True automation makes life easier for everybody, not just one person or team. 

3. Create support around your tech stack

Once you implement new HR solutions, your administration processes will likely change. Make sure you understand the technology you are using and how it needs to be supported in your business. If you work in a large company, you may need to create a technical HR team to support the technology you use. A smaller team may need just one operation analyst to keep technology running smoothly. 

4. Train your team properly

Training your staff to use new tools is vital. Automation is great because you can trigger an entire workflow with one click. The downside is one wrong click can trigger the wrong workflow. Sabrina has experienced this firsthand when a team member accidentally rejected a top candidate by clicking the wrong button! 

5. Understand functionality

To get the most out of your automation tools, you need a full picture of what they can and can’t do. For example, not all HR tools will retain their full functionality once integrated with other tools. Therefore, it’s important to ask what features do and don’t work if a tool is integrated with your tech stack. Another important thing to understand is how candidate support works. If a candidate has a problem with a tool in your tech stack, how quickly will their issue be resolved? Any delay in candidate support will slow down your recruitment process. 


The main takeaway of the webinar was that HR automation tools are incredibly useful in freeing up time for HR teams and speeding up the recruitment process. However, it’s important to look at the bigger picture when introducing new tools into your company and avoid common pitfalls like automating a bad process. Overall, automation helps recruitment teams remain agile and responsive to a changing environment, and it’s likely most HR teams will begin to automate their processes if they haven’t started to do so already. 

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