Heard on the [HCM] Hill: WCN


Devon is a women’s business enterprise so we’re particularly delighted to feature the women business leaders in the #HRTech sector. Jeanette Maister is U.S. Managing Director of the award-winning global talent acquisition solutions firm WCN. Previously, she was the chief operating officer of Global Campus Recruiting at Credit Suisse and, before that, spent eight years in a variety of campus recruiting leadership roles at Lehman Brothers. Jeanette has also held positions at IBM in HR, and Gartner, an IT advisory company, as director of Global Talent Acquisition.

Passionate about data and metrics, at both Credit Suisse and Lehman she revamped the collection, analysis and presentation of global campus recruiting metrics, which were presented yearly to the Executive Committee and Board of Directors. Jeanette is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and earned her MBA from Columbia Business School.

Jeanette, WCN has an interesting trajectory in the talent acquisition tech space. Was it a hard pivot from campus to corporate or did WCN always have a strong focus on the broader recruitment market?

WCN has always had a broad focus on talent acquisition since it was founded back in 1995. The beauty of our technology is it can cover any level of hiring and so it made sense to me that the U.S. office should follow the U.K.’s lead in being open to all markets and not just campus specific, where we had a great track record. Our U.S. clients wanted offerings that would ease pain points across all types of recruitment – from new entrants to senior experienced hires. The challenges were very similar and we had some great case studies from the U.K. such as how Marks & Spencer hires in large volumes over just three days with minimal touchpoints using WCN. Our intelligent suite of products and solutions are really geared towards helping recruiters hire better and fairer. I love how we are now helping with lateral hiring at some big name clients and have NBCUniversal going the extra mile in using the technology to really engage with diverse candidates and ensure they hire inclusive mixes of employees based on powerful insights.

A lot has been written about the role of big data in recruiting yet few recruiters are getting access to the tools and know-how to leverage data. What advice do you have for them?

I think the most important thing is to approach the technology without bias. Clever algorithms are pulling in data from millions of points and learning from your historic decisions. You don’t want to simply replicate any existing bias so you need a lot of data points and then create the brain. Avoid the unintended biases that can emerge by testing it first and correcting it all the time to ensure you are finding a way to identify data that you can truly leverage. The beauty of big data is there is unlimited capacity – you can host as many applications as you want and you can choose which insights that emerge as you want.

Predictive scores are there to just help you tap into promising talent fast. How you get the system to makes these forecasts is totally up to you and your organization.  It’s very possible that you might be missing out because you’re only looking at certain sources or have certain preferences that deliver an adverse impact to your current selection processes. With big data, you can absolutely connect and engage with candidates faster than ever and really build relationships to avoid risks of reneging, lost interest or other concerns that arise from a passive candidate. The options really are unlimited and this will definitely save recruiter time. We are the only firm with this technology built in and this is truly making a difference to how talent acquisition and retention is happening globally.

Also in the news: artificial intelligence. It seems like everywhere you look, there’s another article about AI and recruiting. Does this mean the job of the recruiter is going the way of the dodo bird or will we see a progression similar to the recently emerged role of data scientist with a recruiting spin?

The job of the recruiter isn’t going the way of the dodo because of AI! If anything, the use of predictive analytics can help recruiters to alleviate typical administrative burdens and time spent sifting, allowing them to devote more time to true candidate engagement and helping their business get the best employees possible.

We’re definitely seeing a progression. Predictive analytics isn’t just about the recruiting anymore; it also helps with performance and development measuring to really help with employee retention. There’s a future not too far from the horizon where scoring can also benefit candidates or employees to help them match the skills they are picking up with roles open in the business (or elsewhere) that could be considered a promotion or upskilling opportunity.

I keep hearing a lot about recruitment becoming more and more automated end-to-end. It might not be long before this starts to be applied further into the HR space and systems are used as monitoring tools for areas such as organizational development. It will truly help companies to understand their workforces better and determine best ways of working or team building potential and so on. The future HR department will involve a lot of data scientist techniques for sure but recruiters will always be central to great quality talent acquisition to ensure businesses can grow for the better.

Having just presented at Wonder Women Tech, Jeanette’s travels take her to the 20th Annual HR Tech Conference in Las Vegas this October. See WCN at the show in Booth No. 2925.

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