In this recap of the April 29th episode of Talent Experience Live, Jeff Scott, Managing Director & Head, Talent Acquisition People and Culture at BMO Financial Group, discusses how his team is preparing to make 12,000 new hires. We explore why AI and automation is critical, tips for expanding your HR tech stack, and why TA teams should be excited for the “Great Rehire.”
With the “Great Rehire” on the horizon, it’s more important than ever for TA teams to upgrade their tech stack with an eye toward greater efficiency – and a candidate experience that meets heightened expectations.
But it’s not easy. Providing personalization at scale, encouraging user adoption, and ensuring everything is properly integrated are all challenges to prepare for — challenges that the TA team at BMO are very familiar with, but are learning to overcome. Watch the full episode for Scott’s inside perspective, and catch highlights below!
Improving Your HR Tech Stack to Meet Impending Demand
Established more than 200 years ago, BMO (pronounced BEE-moh, by the way!) is one of the oldest financial institutions in North America. It’s also one of the largest banks in Canada, with 46,000 employees across 29 countries — and they're looking to grow that workforce by nearly a quarter this year.
For the TA team, this means continuing to optimize and upgrade their tech stack with AI and automation to help recruiters work smarter and faster.
“Digitization is at the absolute forefront of everything that’s going on at BMO in order to ensure that we have 200+ more years to tag on to the 200+ previous years. Digital capabilities and digitization is the path to that … expectations are changing rapidly in the customer base, and that will be applied in the talent acquisition space.”
The prospect of 12,000 new hires might sound intimidating, but Scott views the increased focus on hiring with anticipation.
“What that gives you … is a springboard of support,” he noted, adding that it’s a chance for TA leaders to win support across the organization to embrace new approaches. “I look at the pressure of the 'Great Rehire' as only opportunity for us [in TA],” he said.
Overcoming Barriers to Tech Adoption
Change is difficult, Scott acknowledged — especially now, when employees have been through a whirlwind year that disrupted all aspects of life.
One of the key things he emphasized to increase adoption is to carefully examine (and communicate) the value of new technology under consideration. Don’t automate something just for the sake of automating, he advised. The goal is to deliver greater capability and efficiency … not to introduce complexity.
Make sure people understand how the new technology will make their work life easier, and conduct frequent training and testing rather than a one-off session just before implementation. “This goes a long way to creating champions,” Scott said.
Also important? Measuring adoption with data to help determine training needs and pinpoint reasons that usage rates might be lagging. Through Phenom, BMO can create custom dashboards to easily measure recruiter adoption, which Scott says opens the door for constructive conversation among leaders regarding how to effectively support employees through the change.
Using AI and Automation to Drive Efficiency
Maintaining efficiency in processes will be absolutely crucial for TA teams. That’s why automation and AI-powered tools are central to BMO’s strategy in preparing for a mass scale-up in recruitment activity.
“Just like everybody who's experiencing the front-end of the 'Great Rehire', you’re scrambling to ensure you have the capacity within your talent acquisition function to meet that demand,” Scott said. “The opportunity to level the playing field a little bit on this hypergrowth is through automation and the use of tools and technology — and AI is a big one for us.”
BMO leverages AI matching capabilities through their Phenom CRM for more efficient screening, helping recruiters more quickly establish a short list of candidates to target.
Meeting Candidate Expectations
Hiring 12,000 new employees means BMO recruiters will have hundreds of thousands of applications to handle. How does Scott feel about scaling the candidate experience on this level? “Let’s call it a challenge,” he said. “We’re constantly trying to figure out the balance between efficiency and delivering a meaningful experience to candidates overall.”
BMO plans to use AI and automation to power its talent community, career site, and targeted recruitment marketing campaigns to create the kind of personalized experiences that candidates have come to expect.
Nurturing Silver Medalists
The BMO TA team recognizes how important it is to keep communication strong with silver-medal candidates — those close runners-up who could potentially be a great fit for a future job opening. Outreach to this group centers on staying connected through the BMO talent community and checking the career site for resources and jobs.
BMO prioritizes transparency, being clear with candidates that if they’re still interested, the company will use their information to deliver relevant job matches and content.
“That’s an example of the evolution and importance of data retention, and leveraging our really great CRM,” said Scott.
Strengthening Internal Mobility
BMO also is refreshing its approach to internal mobility, using Phenom AI capabilities to mine their employee base.
“We’re building in capabilities that will take skills interest and match that to job opportunities internally, but taking it a step further and thinking about the growth needed to grow into a strong candidacy for said job opportunity,” Scott added.
Beyond matching internal positions to career aspirations, AI analyzes the employee’s profile against the job description and recommends next steps for career development (e.g., available learning resources and upskilling opportunities). Employees can also track the status of job roles they’re interested in.
Avoiding HR Tech Integration Snags
Smooth integrations between HR tech solutions are critical – but challenging, Scott acknowledged. “Ensuring information flow from one end to the other, in its native form, is the foundation to efficiency,” he said.
At the end of the day, it’s about simplifying the experience for everyone — and if candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers are all working in multiple systems, inefficiencies could lead to losing out on top talent.
Meeting the Compliance Challenge
As a global financial company, BMO contends with a heavily regulated environment for digital information. “It’s the greatest hurdle financial institutions have to overcome when it comes to digitization,” Scott said.
Influencing the organizational mindset to get comfortable with moderate risk may be necessary for TA leaders in industries with strict data security requirements. Banking inherently involves managing risk, Scott pointed out, and that characteristic can apply to digital transformations.
“We need to meet regulation appropriately, and at the same time, find the right balance around risk and reward that sees a path forward for us at a pace that the industry expects.”
Get Ready for an Exciting Moment in Talent Acquisition
With job market recovery underway, TA leaders should look forward to a rare opportunity for innovation.
“I fully anticipate that we are at the front end of a highly volatile, candidate-driven market,” Scott concluded. “You have to take opportunities like this and make the most of it … get a ton of exposure to the TA function, and get a ton of power behind it accordingly to drive your innovation agenda,” he said.
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