You only need to look at companies such as Uber, eBay and Airbnb to see how technology has completely transformed a number of industries. Businesses of all shapes and sizes are racing to set a digital strategy and shift ways of working in order to maximise the benefits of new technologies, covering everything from robotics to 3D printing. On the flip side, we have seen organisations that have failed to innovate write their own obituaries — Blockbuster, Kodak and Borders to name just a few.

While media, financial services and telecoms are usually seen as the most “disrupted” sectors, the recruitment industry is now making real strides to use digital to its advantage. This is for good reason. Recruiters were told to fear the worst when LinkedIn and other online sites started gaining popularity. Many believed they would disintermediate the industry, reduce the role of recruiters or even make them redundant, claiming the days of “traditional” recruitment were numbered.

Roll forward to today and it’s a very different story. Hays is thriving as we pioneer the use of new technologies to boost productivity and customer service. Success is still about placing the best person into our clients’ roles. However, we now have multiple tools and channels at our disposal to find that best person and attract them to a new opportunity. So we work closely with LinkedIn, job boards and other communities to both widen the pool of candidates we can bring to our clients and ensure our relationships with those candidates are strong, trusted and up-to-date.

From my own experience, I see a number of ways in which digital technologies can elevate and advance the recruitment industry, empowering candidates, clients and recruiters themselves.

Inspiring partnerships. It’s easy to try and ignore new entrants to the market, believing that your own way of doing things will always win through. Yet in most cases, it’s much more productive to work with third parties and look at how a more collaborative approach can help both sides.

At Hays, we have forged relationships with Google, LinkedIn and other tech-driven companies to boost our own reach and insight and stay at the forefront of changes to come.

On LinkedIn alone, where we are the most followed recruitment company in the world, we have more than 1.3 million followers, giving us access to 60% of LinkedIn’s global network — more than 240 million people through first-degree connections. What is important though is that followers are three times more likely to respond to an InMail from us than a non-follower, because we have formed a trusted relationship with them. That makes us far more effective at securing the rare talent our clients need.

Keeping the human touch. While technology can help identify, screen and match the best candidates, the human instinct has never been more important.

People and teams are complex creatures. And as any good recruiter will know, while CVs can tell a lot about a jobseeker, they don’t tell you the whole story. There is often a huge amount of missing information, particularly around their soft skills and potential fit within an organisation. The best candidates sometimes have the worst CVs and vice versa. So while data can act as a form of simple filter, it’s only by personally engaging with the individual that you can bring their experience and motivation to life.

Drawing on big data. “Big data” has been a buzzword for years, yet it’s only relatively recently that it has become more tangible and real as a business tool. Hays is exposed to vast quantities of data, and we are using our own data scientists to find ways of using that data to drive better business decisions, better customer experiences and, ultimately, profit.

Our world today produces so much data, it is a challenge to be able to absorb it and sift out the gold nuggets that will make a real difference. The recruitment industry, like others, must continually test and learn, trialling new ideas and seeing what really works. Only then will recruiters be able to survive and thrive through this latest industrial revolution, prepared for tomorrow’s world as well as today’s.