Ray’s focus is on innovating HR technology solutions for efficient talent acquisition and management. He has led the development of Zynd’s state-of-the-art talent development and recruitment platform, enhancing employer branding and the candidate experience. He is advocating for a transformative approach in HR, focusing on technological advancement and human-centric practices. With 40 years spanning sectors like Financial Services, Human Resources, Automotive, and Consulting, Ray boasts a BSc in Computing from Leicester University and is an Associate Member of CIPD. He was recognised with the “Best Digital Startup” award in 2022. He’s dedicated to aligning young individuals with careers that amplify their innate talents. He is also the recipient of two Innovate UK Awards for his work in Trade Finance fraud detection for controlled goods and blockchain for document distribution.
As a young man entering the workplace for the first time, over 40 years ago, I could hardly imagine my good fortune to have chosen a career that would develop so dramatically in the four decades that followed.
Looking back, I remember my first day entering a different world to that which I had become accustomed to – my days at university and school.
Taking up my first professional role was as daunting, as it was exciting, but I was determined to embrace this new world and to work as hard as I could to make my career successful. To be honest, I really had no clue as to what that career would entail but I was lucky as my employer adopted a professional approach to skills development that would see me develop professionally over the next 5 years.
In those early days, there was no such thing as computer-based training (CBT) or going “online.” Skills development was very much classroom-based and delivered by an instructor to an assembled group of individuals. Besides the training itself, it was a way to meet new colleagues and sometimes meet people from other companies.
When the internet became more mainstream in the “noughties” the revolution in online learning just skyrocketed and before long everyone was learning via the internet. I remember an amazing use case regarding BBC Language courses that were delivered using cassette tapes. After going online, the number of learners jumped from just a few dozen each month to many thousands. For the BBC it was a dramatic turnaround and for learners much more accessible and affordable.
Clearly, the online revolution had begun and 20 years later, it is still booming.
Nowadays, the desire to acquire knowledge has never been stronger. A school education, higher learning and development, use of knowledge, and career development are still a person’s best chances to escape poverty and lead a better life. It is no wonder that online learning has become so popular, accessible, and affordable, as millions of people around the world strive to better themselves.
And it is no wonder that there has been a boom in online learning tools to meet this demand.
“Knowledge,” as the old saying goes, “Is still Power!” But acquiring knowledge for knowledge’s sake, whilst commendable, needs to have a purpose. I recently came across a qualified nurse who was studying to become a software engineer. Puzzled by this change in career direction I reached out to her to ask why. Simply put, she was disillusioned with healthcare and wanted to do something different. She saw a career in technology as providing more opportunities to progress her career and earn a higher salary. She was not wrong as long as she could find sustainable employment.
Like the nurse moving into software engineering, there are many others who have changed career direction or just opted to try something different. Sadly, there are many people out there who have lost their jobs through redundancy due to industry decline. What do you do when this happens?
Those fortunate enough to be part of schemes, which have provided career advice and guidance, have been able to reskill, upskill, and then start afresh. Many more are left to fend for themselves. It is incredibly daunting to have to start afresh and learn new skills, and of course, there is often the added pressure of being the main breadwinner and needing to get back into work quickly.
That is why it is incredibly important to identify a person’s current soft and technical skills against a range of career options so that anyone can be guided into assessing their options and then making a good career choice.
Career development does not have to be a complete restart! In many cases, it can be one step back, a side-step, and then many steps forward. Having the right information and tools to guide a person is essential because without these a person could easily be stepping in the wrong direction.
A Data-Driven Past is also the Future!
Whatever decision a person makes about his or her career, whether that person is 18 – 24 years old or over 40, there is one thing in common – they and potential employers all use data, in the form of information, to assess a person’s abilities and cultural fit with a view hiring them for a specific job role and their company.
That “data” or “information” is communicated in the form of a CV or resume, and early screening success into an initial shortlist is often determined by the machine readability of your CV/resume document. In fact, a high percentage (88%) of CVs are rejected if a photo is present. Unreadable CVs, in general, end up in the waste bin, and yet the industry continues to persist with this method of pre-screening candidates. It seems to me that to reject someone because of a photo or because the CV could not be machine read, seems ludicrous in the least.
Any competent professional will tell you, that understanding how a business is performing is based on analysing data. For example, number of customers, sales, revenue, and costs to name a few, so why don’t business or industries, shift away from the archaic and non-standard use of CVs, and work towards using data more effectively? There is one primary reason! The use of the CV is so ingrained, so institutionalised in recruitment practices today, that it would require a monumental shift in practices to create a new norm!
And therein, lies the opportunity! The data of the past is also the data of the future, only we need to change how it is captured, stored, and used to connect with employers and the wider industry.
And let us not ignore the fact that the recruitment industry has guided for years that a person’s CV should be one or two pages long. A data-driven digital profile has no word limit. It is how the data, in such a profile, is used that will revolutionise the recruitment industry. For young people, with little or no working experience, this presents an opportunity to create a more holistic picture of themselves that gives a more comprehensive picture of who they are and what they have achieved to date.
Data-driven Digital Profiles will revolutionise recruitment.
As we already know from history and its wider use since computers were invented, data can be analysed, processed, stored, shared, matched, selected, and generated! Data can be transformed into information and knowledge, ultimately intelligence and wisdom.
Bringing jobseekers and employers together using data insights, provides a foundation on which to solve many of the decade-old problems and challenges blighting the candidate and employer experience for years.
Data-driven digital profiles allow candidates to be pre-screened and shortlisted one thousand times faster than before. It allows candidates to receive feedback instantly on all job applications, and it allows candidates to automatically apply for jobs whilst sleeping. The revolution is here!
The AI-based HR Bot!
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been hitting the headlines almost daily in the past 6 months. It is a very powerful technology and used in the right way will transform the industry, how we learn, and the way we live. Unknowingly to most of us, our personal data has been collected by websites and apps for many years and some form of AI is now being applied to analyse our behaviors and provide insights.
Already emerging from the technology industry, we see AI-based tools for candidate interview practice and sourcing and selecting potential job candidates from a wide variety of social media channels. I often wonder if the latter is legal and non-compliant with Data Protection Regulations.
How far will AI go in replacing the recruiter in the end-to-end recruitment process? Only time will tell if we see the creation of an HR Bot that generates job requirements, screens candidates, shortlists, interviews, tests, and makes an offer without the intervention of a human resource