By Mat Conn, Group CRO, Merchants


Research by Remchannel, released in late 2021, found that 69% of respondents were struggling to attract new employees or retain their existing talent. This is no surprise, since traditional recruitment methods, such as placing an advertisement, will reach less than 20% of job seekers in South Africa. 

Instead, businesses must focus on developing the type of talent they need, rather than finding it – and digital recruitment has the potential to make this a reality. By focusing on cognitive ability and learnability rather than experience and education, digital recruitment has the power to break down barriers to entry and create employment opportunities for all South Africans. 

Most importantly, by benchmarking the personality traits and skills of job seekers through online recruitment tools, hiring organisations can ensure that candidates are placed into roles that are specifically suited to their strengths. In theory, this ensures greater job satisfaction for the candidate – a key factor in eradicating the challenge of low staff retention. This is also positive for the organisation in question, as staff who are well suited to their positions are more likely to be productive and deliver excellent work. 

What’s more, online recruitment platforms are available to anyone with a connected device and access to the internet – meaning those in outlying areas or those who are differently abled, for example, will not be excluded from employment opportunities. Technology is also able to match job seekers to a number of jobs rather than just one at a time – increasing the likelihood of employment. 

With benchmarking activities and interviews taking place online, candidates will no longer be required to spend time and money travelling for these activities. This is especially important as the cost of living and travel continues to rise in South Africa. 

Importantly, by shifting their recruitment focus to learnability and potential, South African organisations will be encouraged to invest in and focus on skills development for their staff – building a stronger talent pipeline in the country, and working toward closing the skills gap. 

In my experience, digital recruitment practices also increase the likelihood of foreign investment into South Africa. For example, Merchants’ international clients, specifically those based in the USA, consider the use of these tools a significant factor in decision making around contact centre outsourcing. Tapping into untapped talent pools and hiring of impact workers, specifically, is becoming increasingly important for the growth and sustainability of several sectors in the county – including BPO. 

In closing, digital recruitment has the potential to significantly decrease South Africa’s unemployment rate and reduce the country’s skills gap. Those businesses who have not yet invested in digital recruitment tools need to ensure this is part of their strategies and planning going forward – this is the future of recruitment.

As Chief Revenue Officer, Mat is responsible for driving development of new business, the education of the Merchants offering to new and current clients and the overall continued development of the Merchants product and service offering.