4 Key Takeaways from RecFest UK 2023

Feature image of RecFest UK 2023 marquee, for 4 key post-event takeaways from Harver's Chris Pateman

Recently, I joined thousands of recruiters and other TA professionals at RecFest 2023 in Knebworth, UK.  

Last year, balancing hiring quality vs speed was a topic hotter than the weather. Thankfully, the temperature this year was cooler, and RecFest 2023 itself was even bigger and better.  

RecFest UK 2023 - Aerial view of Knebworth Park
Lovely Knebworth Park in all its RecFest glory

It was lovely seeing so many customers, especially as many brought their entire team to bond and plug into the industry’s latest insights and trends together. Thank you to everyone who stopped by our stand to catch up and learn more about how to make hiring a slam dunk with Harver’s automated solutions. In fact, a few of you channeled your inner Michael Jordan racking up scores so high that they broke our game’s scoreboard! 

RecFest UK 2023 - Photo of Harver's stand featuring a basketball game
RecFest attendees enjoying our "Make hiring a slam dunk" basketball challenge

Of course, RecFest 2023 wasn’t all fun and games. Whilst the environment is a bit more relaxed than a typical industry conference, RecFest continues to be a seriously engaging and informative event. To help your organisation score big with hiring, internal mobility, and more, here are 4 key takeaways from RecFest 2023. 

1. Diversity continues to be in-demand

RecFest UK 2023 - Harver's Sabina Socias Garcia joined by Kraft Heinz's Allison Corry on stage
(L) Kraft Heinz's Allison Corry and (R) Harver's Sabina Socias Garcia on the Disrupt Stage

What’s more, conversations about D&I in the UK and Europe are maturing, shifting from why diversity should be a priority to diversity to how to support diversity in our workforces. Allison Corry joined us for a session on how Kraft Heinz uses data to demand diversity in hiring. As their International Talent Marketplace Director, Allison shared strategies and tactics for how Kraft Heinz is leveraging data to achieve quality, speed, and representation when hiring international trainees. For instance, Harver’s gamified behavioural assessments provide objective data to support fair hiring for international trainees.  

Reducing bias at the assessment stage is good, yet demanding diversity requires even more rigour. That’s why Kraft Heinz, along with many other employers, are also using AI tools like Textio to remove hidden bias from job ads. Regarding the sourcing stage, I heard chatter from attendees about using business intelligence tools to see which sources are most effective at bringing in diverse pipelines and deserve more share of budget. 

Allison Corry from Kraft Heinz presenting on Demanding Diversity on the Disrupt Stage
Allison Corry from Kraft Heinz sharing how to drive leadership and diversity with data and rigor

Another thing to consider: Diversity is itself a diverse topic. As the labour market remains tight, employers are starting to include neurodiversity and even age diversity, considering a sizable portion of UK workers in their 50s and 60s retired early during the pandemic. Employers are even creating outreach programs for underexplored demographics such as ex-offenders, tapping into motivated candidates who can turn out to be more engaged employees.   

Internal mobility is moving on up

On one hand, layoffs this year have freed up some recruiters and other talent. A stark example of how challenging it is to find and keep a role these days? The slew of green lanyards at RecFest UK this year, a verdant signal that the attendee was looking for a job.  

And yet, the labour market continues to be tighter than a drumskin. Amidst a record number of vacancies in the UK, employers are still struggling to hire good fits. Internal mobility, like diversifying candidate pools and workforces, is another popular way employers are filling critical jobs and reducing ongoing attrition.  

Conversations among attendees at RecFest mirrored what customers and I have been discussing this year: It’s critical to have the right tools to help find and engage high-potential job seekers. For instance, Harver’s assessments can help you measure job seeker disposition and soft skills, enabling higher quality and faster decisions for developing, reskilling or upskilling your workforce as needs evolve.  

Internal mobility made easy

Learn how to mobilise your workforce to fill critical roles whilst increasing retention and reducing hiring costs. 

3. The hope — and fear — of AI's evolution

Artificial intelligence was on everyone’s lips at RecFest because recruiters are excited about ChatGPT to screen CVs, create conversational messages to engage candidates, and generally make their jobs easier. At the same time, AI is in the back of everyone’s mind as a potential threat, with concerns about candidates using ChatGPT or other AI tools to complete applications and assessments. 

We’re in the middle of an AI arms race, creating confusion about where AI begins and where automation ends. Will we ever get to a point where unsupervised AI should make automated hiring decisions? Emerging legislation like New York City’s Bias Audit Law or the EU’s proposed AI Act want transparency and safeguards for AI.  

If you ask me, a layer of human oversight is critical for ethical ‘AI’. Automate as much as you can regarding rote tasks like scheduling interviews or gathering reference checks. But a lack of current full automation for hiring decisions isn’t a bad thing. Beyond compliance concerns, machine learning designed and supervised by I-O psychologists and TA experts helps to mitigate bias and to increase validity of predicting job performance while still delivering efficiency. 

4. The recruitment tech space is consolidating

RecFest UK 2023 - Crowd of attendees at Harver's stand
Thank you to all the attendees who visited our stand at RecFest

Walking around beautiful Knebworth Park this year, I noticed fewer vendors, but with bigger stands. It was a sign of a maturing HR tech market, as well as a shift towards customers wanting to streamline their HR tech stack. Expect to see more consolidation on the vendor side, with even fewer (yet larger) stands at RecFest next year. 

You can still expect some interesting point solutions to hit the market. However, don’t be surprised if the coming year leads to fewer providers with more comprehensive solutions. As this trend continues, prioritise evaluating vendors who have a cohesive and flexible suite of recruitment solutions. Managing multiple vendors is inefficient and creates delays and silos. If your goal is to hire better and faster, look for a single partner who can both meet your needs today and grow with you tomorrow.  

Make hiring/diversity/mobility a slam dunk

RecFest UK 2023 - Harver team posing for a photo at our stand
Our team of experts is ready to help you accomplish your organisation's TA and TM goals

Whilst only one lucky RecFest attendee won an Apple Watch from our stand’s basketball challenge, you can still make your recruiting a slam dunk with Harver’s automated solutions.  

Whether you’re demanding diversity like Kraft Heinz or enabling internal mobility, schedule a call so we can learn more about your business goals.  

Chris Pateman

Chris Pateman

Chris Pateman is the EMEA Vice President of Sales at Harver. With more than ten years of experience in the recruitment technology space, Chris helps HR leaders transform and scale their volume hiring strategy and processes.
Posted on:
July 18, 2023

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