As we hit that time of year when employers are looking to take on fresh new talent, here, authors of new book, ‘Exceptional Talent – how to attract, acquire and retain the very best employees’, talk of the ways in which business leaders can pick out the very best of the best

Mervyn Dinnen

Attracting and hiring the right people is crucial to any organization’s success. However it is becoming clear that many businesses are finding recruitment an increasing challenge with skill shortages worsening in many sectors. In addition, the pace of change in the business world is now accelerating so quickly that companies are trying to find people with skillsets they haven’t recruited for before, to help solve challenges that the business hasn’t had to face before.

To solve these problems companies need to start thinking about recruitment completely differently. At the moment too much recruitment is influenced by what has happened in the past. When a new vacancy is created, or the need for a new hire identified, most companies invariably look at what a previous incumbent has done. A job description will be created and will usually serves as a checklist for applicants, but this can lead to poor recruitment practice with only seemingly perfect matches being sought. These matches rarely exist. It is clear that if businesses want to succeed they need to think differently about the type of people they are looking for and the way they find and hire them.

Talent is probably the most misused and overused word in the labour market. The usual definition is of a person that is high potential, or ticks all the boxes on a checklist of skills, achievements and previous experience. In our book “Exceptional Talent”, we argue that this is wrong, and the description needs to be broader. Everyone has talent, the challenge for businesses is to understand exactly what skills, capabilities and potential their new hires need.

Matt Alder

Recruiting has always been considered to be a blend of art and science. Unarguably it is a process that is human centric. “People buy people” is often a mantra you will hear recruiters using. There is a strong sense that true competitive advantage in recruiting is driven by experienced recruiters who understand the needs of the employer, can select the right candidate, effectively sell them the opportunity and then ultimately sell the candidate to the hiring manager. For many this is the art of recruiting.

While there is no denying the validity of this model, it is also true to say that the technology revolution we have been living through over the last ten years has brought a considerable degree of science to the recruiting space. This is starting to bring disruption to previous held recruiting norms and it is disruption that is only likely to increase in the future.

Here are three examples of technology driven trends we are currently seeing that are setting the agenda for the future of recruitment:

Sophisticated Recruitment Marketing Techniques

Employers are having to work much harder to get the attention of the talent they need in a noisy digital world. Social media engagement, highly targeted programmatic advertising and the use of employees as brand advocates are just three of the recruitment marketing techniques now being used to solve this problem.


Potential hires now expect a high degree of transparency from employers about what it is like to work at their company. Websites like Glassdoor are offering the opportunity for people interested in working for a company to read reviews from existing employees that give insights into the workplace experience offered. Some companies are using chat technology to connect potential employees to existing employees via their careers website and in a small but growing number of cases Virtual Reality platforms are being used to give an even deeper insight into workplaces.

Screening and Assessment

Advances in technology are offering some new and interesting ways to interview and screen potential hires. Video interviewing is growing in popularity offering employers the opportunity to get more consistency and insight, offering candidates more convenience and making less demands on their time at the initial interview stage. Video interviews also offer a gateway to more sophisticated methods of assessments and some providers are experimenting with incorporating the analysis of facial micro expressions – fractional facial movements that only last 1/25 to 1/15 of a second that can be used to read the true emotions a person is feeling. Gamification is also a growing trend in assessment and a simple mobile gaming experience can actually generate a huge amount of useful information about the candidate. For example assessment technology provider Artic Shores can analyse over 2000 data points about a candidate just from them playing a mobile game for 20 minutes.

As these trends develop further the future of recruitment will certain be an interesting one. It is clear that technology can assist employers be much more effective in their quest to recruit the exceptional talent but it will only work if they are prepared to challenge their assumptions around what good recruitment practices look like.

Exceptional Talent by Mervyn Dinnen and Matt Alder is out now, published by Kogan Page, priced £29.99. For more information see