The Importance of Innovation in Recruitment

Stephen O'Brien 10.09.2018

Innovation is a buzzword which is commonly overused these days. However, when used correctly it is clearly a highly important one - particularly in the field of recruitment.

Innovation has a different meaning for everyone, but for me it is essentially turning a creative idea into a successful solution that will add value to our candidates and clients. It is ultimately evolving the way we do things and our service offering to meet the ever changing demands of the recruitment market. If one wants to gain advantage over their competitors and stand out from the crowd, innovative and effective recruiting strategies are the only way of moving forward. As a business leader, I want to outline the importance of innovation in recruitment and the journey I have seen it take within the industry so far.

Trends and Technologies:

Innovation in Recruitment Quote

The interesting thing is that the fundamentals of recruitment have stayed the same but our ability to work more efficiently and effectively has vastly improved through technological advancements.
Trends and Technologies


The word which is on the tip of everyone’s tongue and the forefront of every successful recruitment strategy is LinkedIn. Of course, it goes without saying that this has been a massive industry changer, but the standout gamechanger for us has been our database. It is where a huge 80% of our placements come from. Having a CRM system that is adaptable to the business needs is paramount to success. A business’ CRM system must be built to suit its users processes and not vice versa. Our global database does just that for Morgan McKinley. 

Mobile Optimisation:

Mobile phones are such an integral part of our lives these days. It is often the first thing we reach for in the morning and the last thing we put down at night. For recruitment companies, this means that their website and job application process must be fully optimised for mobile devices and tablets. The experience of the mobile user must now be at the forefront of a website’s design strategy. More users than ever are consuming information in ways that are stepping away from the traditional. Social recruiting needs to be prevalent in the way people engage with candidates in order to strengthen their employer brand. 


Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are the main buzzwords across many industries at the moment and recruitment is no different. AI and chatbots will become the norm over the coming years hence improving both the client and candidate experience. Innovative AI solutions will help with CV screening, scheduling interviews and creating more effective job adverts through Natural Language Software. 


Outside of technology, the big trend will be about building a unique and compelling Employee Value Proposition to both attract and retain employees. Having a unique EVP that stands out against your competitors is a real differentiator, as the top reason a candidate chooses one job opportunity over another is culture. Candidates are looking for genuine insight into what it’s like to work with a company, and so it’s important you have a story to tell. Technology can assist here, such as the videos on websites providing insight into the company and its employees. Recently, I have seen something really innovative where companies are using Virtual Reality technology to do this. It allows the prospective candidate to walk around the office, sit at their desk, even sit in on a team meeting - now that’s really getting an insight into the company culture! Flexible working hours and remote working are also becoming more and more common and a real attractive option for employees. 

Opportunities for Innovation

Opportunities for Innovation
Constantly looking out for opportunities for innovation is key to moving forward, business growth and development. Examples of this can include staying in touch and talking to customers, collaborating internally, encouraging people to challenge the status quo, looking at other industries and how you can adopt and evolve ideas to work in the recruitment industry, sitting down and talking to people from different sectors who are naturally entrepreneurial, constantly analysing our processes, systems and being honest about areas that we can derive improvements in. 

Challenges for Innovating Effectively

Innovation Challenges
In recruitment, we are not really re-inventing the wheel, we’re just enhancing it! Everybody is striving to become a market disruptor but where companies run into difficulty is when they are not fully clear on the problem which they are trying to solve. Innovation needs to make commercial sense for an individual business and add value, there is no point driving innovation just for the sake of it, your customers need to value the change. 
Coming up with creative ideas is the easy part, following through on these ideas is the difficult part. You need to dedicate adequate people, time and money to turn that initial idea into an effective solution. Recruitment is a very easy industry to get side tracked in so it’s essential that whoever is working on an innovative idea has the mindset of “Get things done”.
Motivation for Innovation

I truly believe innovation is something that needs to be deeply ingrained in a company's culture. Personally, innovation isn’t a today thing, it’s an everyday thing. People need to buy in to this company culture and have a mindset of embracing positive change, pushing the boundaries and ensuring that we are ruthless in our pursuit of delivering the market leading service to our candidates and clients. For this to happen the working environment needs to be one where creativity is welcomed, people feel like they can share an innovative idea and be listened to and more importantly, feel like they have the autonomy and resources to deliver it. 

Luckily here in Morgan McKinley, we are never standing still, innovation is at the forefront of our strategic thinking at all times. We have a Research, Development and Innovation department that are working on developing cutting edge products & services that will allow us to deliver an even better service to our customers. Innovation doesn’t just sit with the RD&I team, it’s a major part of day to day work for each and every person here in Morgan McKinley. To motivate people to innovate, said people have to be involved and engaged and luckily, that’s something that is very much the norm here in Morgan McKinley. 

Innovation Influences

There are plenty of standout influences in the recruitment industry when it comes to innovation but luckily I don’t have to look too far from home for mine. A massive influence for many of my colleagues and I would be Pat Fitzgerald who founded Morgan McKinley 30 years ago - the journey he has brought the business on to what we know it as today is an outstanding achievement. Pat is very much a key influence for me when it comes to innovation. He has the ability to positively challenge the status quo and is continuously striving to innovate in order to ensure we are the standout market leader in the industry. He is never willing to settle for second best and that is something which you can’t help but be inspired by. Outside of recruitment, my Dad has been a very big influence for me personally, he has great entrepreneurial instinct for new ideas and is never afraid to take a risk. 

Senior Leaders & Innovation

As mentioned previously, creating and fostering a culture of innovation in the recruitment business is absolutely key. Senior stakeholders are at the forefront of establishing and driving this in order for people to have the confidence to put forward their ideas and autonomy to follow through on them. Encourage small wins as these will lead to big ideas and big wins.  

Leaders need to integrate discussions about innovation into their meetings as a standing agenda point. Innovation cannot simply become a topic that crops up if sales figures are down or market share is dipping, it is something that needs to be worked at daily, weekly and  monthly over a consistent period to see success. It’s highly likely you’ll see a lot of ideas stall and stutter before you see success. As we say in recruitment, resilience is one of the key traits you need to be successful and when it comes to innovation it’s no different. If an idea or solution doesn’t go to plan, business leaders need to encourage teams to re-group, evolve the idea and go at it again.
Making sure you have the right people in the right positions is one of the main roles leaders play in innovation. Those who are closest to our customers are likely to have some great innovative ideas as they are gaining first-hand market research. I feel that senior leaders need to challenge these people to think more innovatively and push the boundaries to continuously look to improve. Finally, keeping close to customers and understanding their needs is key. You may think you have a really great innovation solution but if it doesn’t meet the demands of your customer and make commercial sense then it may not be as great as you think! 

The new world of recruiting requires new technologies and data-driven approaches in order to achieve continued success within the employment market. We are entering into a new era in recruitment where innovation is no longer a rarity, but a must. In order to keep up with the market leaders - benchmarking, comparing and contrasting against competing recruitment agencies are all key to staying ahead of the game. Of course, everyone has their own idea of what it means to be innovative, but for me personally it is an ongoing journey and one which is constantly evolving. I for one, am excited to see what the future holds not just for innovation within recruitment but for innovation across all industries in general. 

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