Solutions Driven

Why Businesses Need “Always on” Recruitment in 2023

Claire Murray and Al Frater discuss always on recruitment in The Talent Intelligence Podcast

Being “always on” is exhausting if you’re a small recruitment team. Always screening CVs, always staying late to interview overseas candidates, always with a mile long to do list.  

But it doesn’t have to be like that.  

We all know that 2023 is going to be a big year for business. And a tough year — with huge global changes making trading conditions difficult for some.  

So how do you ensure your hiring and people strategy doesn’t suffer?  

With always on recruiting…  

But what does that mean?  

In this bonus episode of The Talent Intelligence Podcast, our new Head of Talent Solutions, Al Frater, discusses just that. And…  

  • What Talent Solutions really means  
  • How AI will affect the future of recruiting  
  • The ways in which the gig economy is already changing recruitment  
  • And why zoology is the perfect degree to kick start a career in recruitment 🤔  

Not to mention a peek into Al’s crystal ball for recruiting in 2023 and beyond.  

Listen to the podcast:

Listen on Spotify

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Watch the Podcast:


Claire Murray: Hello, and welcome to a bonus episode of the Talent intelligence podcast, where we catch up with the latest in the world of recruitment. 

 Claire Murray: Today we have Al Frater, who is the new head of talent solutions at solutions driven welcome.  

Al: how are you today? 

Claire Murray: Oh, thanks, that I’m very well, thank you. Yes. How are you doing? I am doing well. I always seem to record these on a Friday, which is a nice way to ease yourself into the weekend with a a nice chat. 

Al Frater: Lovely! I look forward to it. 

Claire Murray: you’ve been with Solutions Driven a couple of months now. So, I thought I’d give you a little bit of time to bed in and feel comfortable before I pulled you on the podcast too quickly.  

Al: very good. Yeah. I joined. I joined in November, about that. So yeah, I’ve joined this at an interesting time. I guess we’ll dig into that in a bit more. But yeah, that’s me. 

Claire Murray: The best place to start today is for you to introduce yourself. Give us a bit of background about your career. How you ended up in growth. How you ended up in recruitment and all that fun stuff. 

Al Frater: Well, I’ve had a I guess a meandering career is probably the way to describe it. So I I started off the natural thing, having studied zoology, at university. The natural thought is to go into advertising. Obviously, I started with forensic science, but that went awry. But that’s a long story. So, if anyone wants to hear the story, ask me when you see me in person. No, like a lot of graduates, I guess I ended up looking for a job just to pay the bills and ended up in direct marketing. So anything in the advertising world and I, I fell into a account management role. I’d always been good, quite good with people and selling. 

Al Frater: and that just morphed into a career that 10 years later I was account director for quite a few big brands and looking after that, efforts in terms of fundraising for charities. And you know, credit card runs, sign people up, and lots of stuff, and just didn’t really love it. 

I went back to university and studied psychology, which is a real passion of mine and off the back of my psychology studies I was looking to get on the root of being a fully trained occupational psychologist. I did a masters in occupation psychology which I loved. There’s a lot of crossover between sales and psychology. And so, I ended up going into the psychology for business, industrial psychology world as a team leader, and using both my experience in the commercial world and also the love and the training I had in in business psychology to have my second career in the recruitment and acquisition world. So, I started off in the psychiatrics and the consulting world around psychiatric testing and screening employees as people hire them. 

And then I transitioned that into slightly more. I guess the company I first, or it was a traditional psychometrics business that became a sort of cutting edge game based technology. I joined about 6 or 7 years ago and I guess that was really a morphing into Hr. Tech. 

And then the final stage was, I had an opportunity to join an RPO business 

Al Frater: and loved it. Love the idea of disrupting. All the industries I’ve been in have been quite disruptive, and so projects rpo and mini rpo, which is why I joined Solutions Driven. It was really attractive to me from a kind of a growth perspective. But also for me personally. I love being around. People, love HR and technology. So it kind of mixes together quite nicely. 

Claire Murray: I was gonna say that your story is a typical one, and I don’t mean that everyone has done the same things that you have, it’s just nobody ever means to end up in recruitment, do they?  I saw today that one of the universities started doing a recruitment course, which I think is probably one of the first ones of its kind. And it’s funny, because everyone who works in recruitment didn’t mean to get there. But if you love recruitment like you love recruitment, people are so passionate about it.  

Al Frater: Yeah, that’s it. So many people say that. And I’m the same. Perhaps I didn’t even want to get into recruitment. That wouldn’t be my first on my list, that’s all. But yeah, love it. I think it’s a great, a great career for people to have. I haven’t seen that story about the degree. But why not? I mean, absolutely. 

Claire Murray: so you’ve been in the space for a while doing various things in the recruitment space. What’s the kind of biggest changes that have happened over the last, say 5, 10 years? 

Al Frater: That was very delicate. So, I I was thinking about this I I knew you’d ask that question. So, I think, what have I seen in the last few years? So technology has always been in the recruitment world? Certainly, in my career the last decade or so technology has formed an increasingly big part of it. But I think, like a lot of technological advances that you see in other industries. And as I’ve done the last 100 years or so, it’s starting to accelerate. And actually, we’re seeing more interesting technology coming along and forming a part or the majority of recruitment processes. I think that’s a really interesting change and definitely see speeding up. 

Al Frater: It’s not always for the best. It’s not always good, mostly a lot of time it is. But there are also some, some red dawns there that, like I don’t know we should be able to be mindful of. I think the other big change I’ve seen over the last 3 or 4 years, maybe as being a level of accountability that has come to the TA function. Well, more so than you perhaps see before. I’ve been part of industry groups with TA Leaders for a long time, and there was frustration. Certainly, if they feel as though they’re as not being listened to, not having a voice in the top table within companies, perhaps not having the ear of the C suite. I think that is steadily growing and improving, and the level of accountability has grown with that as well. 

Al Frater: That comes with different pressures a different lens that is now put on one. And obviously there’s been a crazy couple of years with the pandemic and the global economy and all this sort of stuff that’s happening. And then there’s been a lot of a lot of change to organizations, and and Ta has has has taken the brunt of that at times, and then has been, kind of looked upon to say, save things and kick start businesses again. So there’s definitely been a a an increased level of that. 

Al Frater: I think that the other thing I’ve been delighted to see over my career in HR and working with recruiters. Our teams’ nature has been the awakening to the diversity challenges that we know are still happening in various roles and industries and professions. 

Al Frater: I think the fact that everyone is now acutely aware of it is great. We now know we need to do things to try and combat it as much as we can in as many ways as well. So, we’re starting to see that really becoming an expectation of the DE&I is right at the forefront of everyone’s mind, which is great. 

Al Frater: We still have a lot of I mean to do. But yeah, I’ve definitely seen that being it was a sort of a nice to have, I should almost kind of mention it –  to “it really has to happen now”, which is, which has been a lovely, even issue. 

Claire Murray: Yeah, our chief Diversity Officer Salma. I don’t know if you’ve Seen it yet. But she did a webinar just before Christmas, on gonna how to avoid the diversity downtown, because I think everyone is realizing that it is vital. But you know it’s one of those things that when budgets are tight, that it’s one of the first things that tends to slip.  

Al Frater: I get it right. I understand that sometimes companies they are worried about some other things, keeping the lights on bills coming in, customs happening, and there are things that perhaps then couple of callers get cut because of a limits, that sort of resources on time, and it’s one of those things that perhaps does get neglected. And it’s not right, but I can see how it happens.  

There are some fantastic materials that I encourage people to seek out to make sure we you are still considering those really important things, because the downturn won’t last forever, and then we need to make sure that we’re in a good, healthy place. 

Claire Murray: Exactly. I’ll pop the link to that in the show notes, so that everyone who’s listening to this can check it out afterwards. 

Claire Murray: So now you’ve joined solutions driven as head of talent, solutions, can you tell me and the audience what talent solutions actually means, and what your job entails.  

Al Frater: My job is to grow the talent solutions, part of the business. So that is both going out and talking to the new clients and looking for ways that we can help clients, but also to develop our product roadmap internally in terms of what we’re doing. But that’s a Broad Church, because the first of your question is, it’s all things so it could be — a lot of what we do is is embedded talent and placing our amazing recruiters within company’s T/A functions, and that’s a big part of what we do in our solutions. We also do a whole raft of consulting services as well whether that’s looking at your process, whether it’s giving you advice with the DE&I that we just talked about a second ago.  

It could be general consultancy. It could be pay benefits reviews. It could be tech implementation. You name it. We’ve probably done it over the course of the last 22 years of solutions driven, and we’ve probably done it in the country you’re in. It’s a global remit, which is amazing. So, that’s a political answer, it’s everything. Our main focus is embedding talent, but also how can we come in and improve the processes that companies may have? 

And make sure that we’re doing everything we can to maximize the efficiency and getting the business in a better place. With that with their with their hiring. Now, that could be yeah, rounding candidate value proposition all the way through to working with the psychiatrics might have favor of your ATS, your integrations, your video hiring, whatever it might be. 

Al Frater: And then, I’m also reporting suites for organizations as well, and making sure the metrics are right. So I hope that answers the question.  

Claire Murray: Absolutely. Yeah. Just adding a lot more value than putting one person in one role.  

 Al Frater: It’s all about supercharging your your recruitment. We’ve got some amazing recruiters with some fantastic experience, and we have a wide view of the market and the technology out there, too. So companies can come to us and get a view on. What’s right for them, and we’ll give them a recommendation with what that might look at that might be the we look at and say we don’t. Even then you’re perfect happy days, but there’s always little tweaks and changes that we can make.  

So we use a process called Recruitment Process Intelligence, and that really is about us coming and looking at what we’ve got, what we find, and giving you advice, and as well as that, giving you then the recruitment muscle, the horsepower. 

Claire Murray: So quite a lot of recruitment agencies and recruiters. You know what they do is basically place people in roles. Once that role is filled, they then step away. What you’re talking about in talent solutions is much more of a broad remit.  

 Al Frater: Yeah. People might want to call it embedded talent. People might think of it as recruitment as a service. 

Al Frater: It’s an RPO by another name. So RPOs tend to be very big, very unwieldy, very typically expensive, and long term contract as well. What we’re talking about here is, I guess, the best of the RPO. 

You get people that are embedded in your team. They become an extension of your team. They look and feel exactly like a member of your organization, and they live and breathe the values that that you have. But then you have the ability to get those roles processed nice and quickly. 

Al Frater: It’s not that you have to do that, for, like 6 months, and we can get up and running quite quickly. 

So you have the kind of agency feel in terms of speed. But you have the full RPO type nature of the business as well. That’s Al Frater: that’s a simplistic way of putting it, but that was probably where we sit. 

Al Frater: I’m not saying that there isn’t a space for agencies again. That’s a big part of what we do. If the circumstances are right, and they have a need for that hyper agile solution to come in and give their TA function a real boost in terms of output then we are there to do that as well as those other things I mentioned.  

Claire Murray: You’re going to be wearing a lot of hats in the next coming months.  

Al Frater: Well, absolutely. But I think what I’m excited about is that this option is very cost-effective for organizations. And you’re not going to be right for everyone. Of course. But we can give clients control over a dedicated team on a short-term basis. 

 This is typically cost effective, but it gives them the ability to have always on recruiting. What I mean by that is that you can have that flex. So it could be that you take a couple of people from us to help with your recruitment. We know what your process looks like. And then the ongoing running of that process. 

Al Frater: It could be that you scale that up. If you have seasonal peaks and troughs as that then starts, declining. You know we start filling all of those roles which we will very quickly. You can then scale the team back and up and down, as you need to accordingly, or when you in overlay it with our search practice, you can then have an always on solution that you can have that ultimately to flex and up and down with resources. 

Al Frater: I think it’s a really exciting way for people to look at using it as a third party recruitment agency. 

Claire Murray: So they’re recruiting, but they can also keep really good control over their budget as well. 

Al Frater: Exactly. We work with a fixed cost basis. So there is a monthly management fee for the work we’re doing. We’ve had loads of those people that it’s going to cost us X amount. 

But we can. We can do it for a fixed fee. You get the benefit of that assurance of function. 

Claire Murray: You kind of answered my next question here, because since you started working here you have spoken about always on recruitment, and that was what I was going to ask you next. But true to form, you have spoken about all these on recruitment already. 

Al Frater: One of the things is demand. Planning is a constant battle. It’s a constant iteration, and you know people are never sure. Say I’ve got 40 live recs now, but I’m probably going to get another 50 added, and then that might be another 70. That is hard for you to build a team internally on full-time contracts.  

Al Frater: What we allow is that you can have that flex where you can dial up and down the the recruiters that you have from us, and the services that we are providing to you based on that need. Now, if things change and that drops right off, and you’ve only one or 2 roles left where we have visibility, the solutions, driven to switch our work into the search practice. 

Al Frater: So you can still work with this, that always on it still happening. When demand rises again, we can be quick to react and give you that capability back in internally. So that’s what I mean by always on. I think it’s a way of helping to find out what the business is going through.  

Claire Murray: especially after how much everything has peaked and troughed and changed over the last couple of years. We had Kate Terell, who worked with us when she was at Aktana and she’s now at Menlo Security doing cyber security. One of the things she said, and it sounds a bit cheesy, and we laughed about it on the podcast that the only thing we are certain of in the coming year is change.  

It’s one of those years where nobody knows what’s gonna happen. So, it feels quite timely that you have joined Solutions Driven just now to take on the challenge.  

Claire Murray: So I’m talking about the year ahead, and obviously you don’t have a crystal ball. But imagine that you did. What would you say are going to be the big kind of trends in recruitment happening in 2023? 

Al Frater: what do I see happening in the year ahead? Well, it’s interesting that the gig economy has been here for a long time now. It’s not a new thing, but what I think we’re going to see over the next 12 or 18 months or so, is just the level of that really increasing I mean, I’ve seen a few reports recently saying by 2025 maybe half of the workforce is going to be made up of the gig economy. 

That’s hard to believe and it might not be as much as that. But it’s definitely heading in that direction. So what does that mean for you as a recruiting function? How are you going to go and accommodate that in your plans, and who you’re attracting. And and you know, how does that work with the other 50%. So I think there’s a whole lot of organizations that are gonna have to embrace this. I think a lot of the contractors have done so incredibly well, efficiently.  

They’ve jumped on the back and then expanded their use of contractors well. I think we’ll see a lot more of that.  

Al Frater: I think the other really interesting change for me is around AI.  

So like I said  I’ve been in HR tech for 8-10 years or so and there’s been a lot of talk about AI throughout that period.  

It’s always been like that old adage about teenage s*x. Everyone talks about it and I was actually doing it.

There’s a sense now that AI is starting to bear fruit. So, I’m sure a lot of our listeners will. I’ve heard of ChatGpt. And they are really interesting. And I think the uses of that going to be fascinating. That’s just the one getting headlines now. There are maybe others now, but I think we’ll be doing more. 

Al Frater: It’ be really interesting to see what happens, and I think that those technologies have claimed to have it in the past, but probably just not quite there. Machine learning is really starting to come to life and helping us with things like, management pipeline. 

Al Frater: Yeah, things can be interesting. Well, probably few months, but it’s only in the next couple of years. I think AI is going to be a big staple about. And then how does that change the way we interact as humans with our computers, our devices, when we’re looking for jobs and looking for a change?  

Al Frater: And then linking back to what AI is doing as well as as a job. 

Claire Murray: One of the criticisms of recruitment being tech heavy in the past was that in terms of diversity, quite a lot of tech Yeah, because that’s always one of the and things like psychiatric tests as well would be biased against people who may be English wasn’t their first language, and I think there’s going to be a lot of interest in ethical and moral stuff that comes out of this as well. 

Al Frater: And it also, yeah, depending on things like what about just like a associate economic point of view? Has everyone got the technology that they need to access these tools? I mean, that’s one thing it does. You have the bandwidth. There are some societal changes that we need to make in terms of education definitely.  

But also, yeah, things like access to a quiet secure place with an Internet connection to be able to do some of the stuff that they may be. Organizations are often into as they’re applying for jobs. There are some interesting ethical developments which I think would be quite interesting. It’s not just the things like self driving cars that we need to think about slightly more mundane stuff about applying for jobs. How does how does that get impacted by some of these things. I think it’s going to be. I Yeah, I look forward to seeing the debate pan out over the next year. It’s going to be an interest in year 2023 for a variety of reasons.  

Claire Murray: Okay? Well, we’re almost ready to wrap up. But I always like to finish off these podcasts with some tips or some actionable insights that people can take away. So, they haven’t just listened to us, rabbit and on for half an hour. Obviously, we’re talking about the fact that there’s peaks and drops where we’re going through a bit of a recession about a downturn at the moment. What are the 3 things that businesses can do to ensure that their recruitment function comes out the other end of this step stronger or as strong as what they went in. 

Al Frater: Okay. 

Al Frater: So I’ve got a bit of a pet 

Al Frater: It’s my number one. Probably preaching some choir. But first thing, you need to know what you’re after. What is it you actually want? I still see companies going out to market with a spec that is just not right or slightly old fashioned or they’ve pasted it from 10 years ago.  

Al Frater: Have you actually spent time looking at what your organization needs for that wrong. Now, the reason this is becoming more and more important is, getting back to what I said about you never like working gig economy, less more stuff. Do you really need some of those skills that you have on there? Some of those must have that you are certain are really important. 

Because half the time I look at them online, and think – why, you need that. So, that’s an important part of it. Then also getting the spec right is how and this goes back to my psychology days, but unless you have the spec in terms of what you’re after, both skills, hard and soft skills, but also personality and behaviors what you see you’re looking for 

Unless you define that first, and what stakeholders need internally, you set yourself up for a bit of a failure. 

Because you’ll probably end up with the wrong person. So in the process, that would be my top 10, and if you’re not doing that the competition are.  

Second would be getting your values right as a business when you are looking to attract – so candidate value proposition is incredibly important. 

Al Frater: You’ve got to be open and honest and transparent about what you offer. But that process has got to feel genuine and heartfelt. And really, if you do that, you’re gonna get better candidates, you’re gonna have better acquiring success.  

If all of the people that touch your account base as part of the process know the external values in your business, you’re gonna have a better hiring experience, both internally and externally. And then you’ll get better people, aligned to values and not then deciding to jump ship after a few months. Hopefully. But it should reduce that churn as well. So values are incredibly important.  

Al Frater: And I think certainly the world of social media, carries on apace and has changed, and some of the older people are leaving the marketplace. Things like yeah glass door. And people talking online about their experiences and the values and what they’re saying is, it’s just more important. So, I think a lot of companies have done great work in this. That needs to carry on.  

We’ve already touched on my third one would be avoiding that diversity downtown. You know that times may be tough now. But if you’re starting to build up a problem for yourself by cutting pools and certain things.  

I think it’s important to not be doing this with your pipeline because you’re just going to build up. 

This hopefully won’t be that long a downturn. But actually, when we come out of it, you don’t want to be in a position where going back to my first, my previous point, your values look different. And actually the experience that people see in the organizations is not good.  

 They say that if you fix the roof in the summer, when it comes to winter, you’re in good place. You need to really focus on one of these things. So that would be my top 3 tips.  

Claire Murray: all 3 of those fit into the topic of alignment. Right? So, you’re aligning all your stakeholders. You like making sure that you’re aligning your candidate Brand, and your engagement with the people who you want to attract, and then the diversity 

 Claire Murray: part fits into that as well. It’s all part of your employer, Brand, and and aligning, making sure you aligning yourself with the people who you want to hire long term and your goals for for for the future. So yeah. 

Al Frater: yeah, exactly. That exactly that. That would be a a very 6 way of putting it. That’s why you’re in in marketing. 

 Claire Murray: Well, all it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on today, and thank you. Thank you so much for spending part. Your Friday afternoon with us, and and i’m sure that we will chat soon. In the future. We’ll have to get you back on when see if we can see if your crystal ball predictions have come true. 

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