30 years PageGroup Nederland: from index card boxes to virtual reality
PageGroup Nederland celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The recruitment industry has taken the world by storm through these 30 years. With the rise of virtual reality and robotisation, we are on the eve of the next revolution. Joost Fortuin, Managing Director PageGroup Nederland, focuses on the future.
Just imagine: your head office is in Amsterdam, but your employees live in France, Germany, India or China, and they always check in at the workplace by means of virtual reality. This future scenario is less futuristic than it seems.
At this moment, it is quite hard to create a real team spirit when everyone works at different locations. Even video conferences are not even close to brainstorm sessions or presentations, while the team is physically in the same room with a cup of coffee and some biscuits.
This is all going to change with the rise of virtual reality, at least that’s what we expect. As soon as the software is further developed, it will be possible to walk through a virtual office, attend meetings together, sit round the table with colleagues and even go through the latest office gossip at the virtual coffee machine.
It is one of the countless technological developments that will not only take our work by storm, but also companies’ HR policy. The consequences for recruitment and selection of new staff will also be significant, as says Joost Fortuin, PageGroup Nederland’s Managing Director.
What will be the consequences of the newest technological developments for the recruitment industry?
“As recruiters, we will have to think more out of the box. When one of our customers is looking for a suitable candidate now, we offer the best people that are available at an acceptable distance from the work location. A situation now arises where the best people no longer work in the Netherlands alone; they could also work from Japan, South Africa, India or another country.”
“Companies already develop things in that direction, for example by taking care of so-called Shared Services Centres, which provide services to multiple offices in Europe or throughout the world from one location. An administrative employee or an IT person would then no longer work from one and the same office, but would call in from a location in Barcelona or Germany, for example. The main difference is that no one would physically work from the same location in the future. That would lead to entirely new dynamics of which we don’t know the exact consequences yet.”
What are the advantages for the employers?
“The main advantage is cost savings. When everyone works from a virtual environment, companies only need a fraction of the office space they need now. Furthermore, it could also be a solution to ageing; when it no longer matters where someone works, the need for good staff could be solved a lot easier.”
“However, the biggest advantage for companies is that they will have a larger group of talented people at their disposal. For example, the number of IT specialists in India is a lot larger than in the Netherlands. In a virtual work environment, it would be a lot easier to deploy this talent.”
What challenges will companies face in the future when recruiting suitable candidates?
“The biggest challenge is that the playing field will become so large that companies no longer see the wood for the trees. So when you start recruiting suitable candidates all over the world, where would you start?”
“In that sense, it looks a little like the internet revolution in the nineties. When I started working at PageGroup, recruitment & selection was still a very comprehensible job. We had an index card box with good candidates, and when you wanted to look a little further, you would put an advertisement in one of the national papers. You knew exactly what target group you could reach with what newspaper. So when internet came round the corner, this model was jeopardised. The reach increased, but also got less specific. Sometimes we receive hundreds of applications for one voluntary advertisement in one of the national job site. How do you find the right candidate when you receive so many applications? That challenge will only get bigger in the future.”
Does the added value of a recruitment and selection agency like PageGroup change with that?
“Yes, it already changed when the internet got into use. In the pre-internet age, our added value was to have an expanded database with candidates. At this moment, everyone can contact candidates via LinkedIn, Facebook or other social media channels. Our added value is that we have the knowledge and expertise to select three or four candidates from this huge group that suit the specific needs of a company. We have followed many candidates we deploy throughout their entire career. That’s how we know exactly what they can offer. Our challenge is therefore not to find the right candidate, but to make sure good candidates and our customers actually start working together. To make this happen, we invest in a long-term relation with both our customers and candidates. In the future, we will invest even more in that.”
What consequences does robotisation have for the recruitment industry?
“Thanks to robotisation, it will absolutely get easier to make the first shift of candidates based on hard criteria, such as education and work experience. By using the right software, it is easy to read and interpret large amounts of résumés and databases. For the actual candidate selection, you still need a consultant that actually sits round the table with candidates to talk to them. All kinds of emotional and personal factors are also important when selecting candidates. The human factor will therefore always remain important in the recruitment industry.”
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