The Recruitment Hackers Podcast

New insights every single week from top leaders in Talent Acquisition.

    What Recruiters Should Know About Hiring Data Professionals

    In this podcast episode, Max learns from Alooba Founder, Tim Freestone, how to effectively hire data professionals. According to Tim, CV screening is not enough and there is definitely a sim...
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    Max Armbruster
    Max Armbruster
    CEO Talkpush

    The Candidate Experience in the LATAM Market

    Latin America is a huge talent market with a vast array of cultures and expectations. In this episode Head of Customer Success, Carolina Vargas, goes into the differences in candidate behavior in Latin America, and how recruiting teams can engage with talent in multiple countries. From all the job boards available (which are very localized) to employer branding techniques and paid media, there’s much diversity to account for while scouting talent.


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    Don't feel like listening? You can read the entire transcript right here. 👇


    MAX: Hello.  Welcome back to the Recruitment Hackers podcast. I'm your host, Max Armbruster and today we have a special episode where we are going to talk about how the recruitment experience and the candidate experience differs for Latin America and Latin America in the high volume space in particular but Latin America in general, which is a big market for us, where we have spent the last four or five years, preparing and adapting to it.  And I thought there would be no better person to come and discuss this market than our very own Carolina Vargas, who is the Head of Customer Success for Talkpush, based in Costa Rica.  Welcome to the show, Carolina.  


    CAROLINA: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here. 


    MAX: Thanks for coming.  The first time we are having an internal discussion on the show.  But, you know, I don't think that there are too many TA practitioners in Latin America who have experience necessarily at the regional level.  I mean I couldn't think of a few, of course, some of whom we serve, but a lot of them is country by country, right.  Recruitment is a domestic game for most companies.


    CAROLINA: Yeah, exactly.  And we still have the chance to make the comparison with Latin America and North America.  And that groups to be very different.  Honestly, in terms of their behavior and the way we see they adapt their sourcing strategies.  So I think that has proven to be very effective in terms of analyzing how these companies are doing what they are doing today.


    MAX: Yeah, it's like the big brother of the biggest market in the world is right North of the border, if you are in Mexico, but if you look in terms of headcount Latin America has a much bigger talent pool than any.  I don't know if you can measure the sort of diversity and complexity of a market but would you say that North America is more uniform than Latin America?  I would assume Latin America is much more diverse in terms of candidate behavior.


    CAROLINA: It is absolutely.  Yeah, I mean, North America itself has a lot of diversity but I suppose Latin America as a whole, you have to consider the difference between the northern part of South America for most people, the Caribbean, behaves in a completely separate way.  We have countries in Latin America that speak only English, then that speak French, Portuguese and Spanish for the most.  So of course we have diversity in terms of ethnicity, in terms of how these countries interact with one another.  I mean, as we were saying, without a doubt, Latin America has a skilled workforce with relatively low cost compared to other regions, even our own neighbors, like the US and Europe, Brazil and Mexico are pretty powerful economies on their own.  But I think the rest of Latin America or the smaller countries, rely a lot on our neighbors to export our services, and I think something that happened especially during the pandemic is that we managed to remove all the remaining carriers that made outsourcing for services, so attractive.


    MAX: Okay. Okay, so the Latin American, the smaller countries are booming, finding ways to sell their services to the region.


    CAROLINA: Pretty much, yeah.


    MAX: Cool.  What about those who aren't aware, you said some countries speak English and French but I guess the majority of the space is in Spanish.  Is it fair to consider this whole region is generally Spanish speaking and to apply the same language settings for all candidates?


    CAROLINA: Well, I suppose you could potentially discuss something about Latin American Spanish and it's something that you for example using Word.  There is an understanding of what Latin American Spanish is, but on its own, it's very different, we use different ways to treat people.  So for example, just something that we've considered in our bots.  It's not the same, to create a bot for a Mexican audience and of Costa Rica, or an Argentinian audience.  They use completely different ways to speak to their candidates.  One can be considered extremely formal in the country and extremely informal in another, so these are things that we have to be cautious about.  Of course, you're going to get your messages across, we all understand Spanish even if it comes from Spain or Argentina we'll understand it, but it's not the way you want to present your brand.  You want to take care of these minor things when you're creating or conversing with these candidates.


    MAX: Okay, so could you illustrate that.  You said the formal versus more colloquial style.  Would it be rude to address someone in Mexico, in a way that is more formal in Costa Rica, or vice versa?


    CAROLINA: Yeah, for example in Costa Rica it is very common to speak to people in usted.  That is the way we speak to everybody I would speak to my parents like that, and this is considered extremely formal in Mexico, it would create a barrier or a distance between candidates and recruiters that would be considered a little harsh rather cold, they would put you in a defensive position.  So this is something that you have to be mindful of.  They can absolutely understand that but it does change the way you are interacting with people.


    MAX: So as an employer brand, if you said usted to candidates in high volume recruitment in Mexico, you would come off as distant and too formal.


    CAROLINA: Absolutely.  We consider this in the way we shape, or for the conversational designing team is preparing these bots, right.  They want to make sure they adapt to the way people are expecting to connect with these brands.


    MAX: So for our listeners who don't know Talkpush, we design and provide chatbots/conversational AIs, which have to speak the local language and adapt to local behaviors.  So that's an extra layer of work and complexity for us.  But I guess beyond the conversation and the language components, we can look into a little bit more of the differences in behavior.  Maybe starting from the corporate side.   Is there a good division of labor between recruitment Marketing and Recruitment operations as you may have, in Asia, or sometimes in the US, they use a lot of agencies to manage their ad-by and employer branding work?  What is the lay of the land for Latin America?


    CAROLINA: I suppose it's pretty diverse as well.  We do find that it's more common that these companies do it in-house, so most of their marketing purposes and marketing are managed in-house.  There is a difference though.  The stronger companies that we see are the ones that are being able to chase the top talents while other ones that have a stronger connection between their recruitment or their talent acquisition department, and their marketing departments and of course, the way that they generate their employer brand can, of course, create a huge impact in the way that they're addressing these candidates.  The candidates sometimes reach on their own.  We have clients that do no advertising and have massive amounts of volume because of what they have done and the services they provide.  People want to work for them.  Maybe they don't have the best benefits of the region but the power of their brand is so visible that candidates are looking for them.  So yeah, I suppose, to answer your question, we do see all kinds of behavior in terms of interaction and marketing, interacting with recruiters and talent acquisition teams, but yeah, they take care of their employer brands and that's what creates the difference.


    MAX: And is there a big use of agencies to build a brand or is it mostly done in-house?


    CAROLINA: Mostly in-house, even for bigger companies.


    MAX: All right.  The other aspect of recruitment which is so key is buying direct mail.  I heard your example saying that a strong employer brand can suffice to fill your talent pool for some of the bigger brands, but that is not going to work for everybody, some direct advertising as well, is going to be necessary.  In the US, you have Indeed, zip recruiter, and LinkedIn which dominate a lot of the market.  And then, you often have like the dominant player in some of the markets in Asia.  In Latin America for those who don't know how it breaks down.  How is there one job board or marketplace where people can go to support them regionally?


    CAROLINA: No we, wish.  No, not really.  Job boards are very important, definitely, but they are so different from one country to the other that the same formula will not be sufficient for one country and then the other.  So we see indeed working in Mexico for example, but not to the extent that it works in the US at all.  And then job boards like the Tecoloco that work very well in Central America, nobody knows who they are outside of it, or Computrabajo work for certain roles, even but it's not the same for the rest of the region.  So, South America, Uruguay, Brazil, all have different local job boards that worked very well.  In LinkedIn definitely in terms of a regional strategy but this is for certain industries and more senior positions, but yeah, as you were saying, there is much diversity, people really browse a lot.  And definitely, you're gonna have to find the right job board not only for the country but also for the types of positions you are advertising.


    MAX: So for this purchasing, you have to have a domestic expert, a country by a country expert to decide where you buy your ads where you buy your traffic.


    CAROLINA: Yeah, I mean you can always rely on social media.  Social media is big.  But if you want to tap into all the most effective sources as your competition is probably already doing then definitely you are going to have to do a little research on what is the right combination for you and the type of roles you are advertising.


    MAX: Okay, all right.  Well, let's say somebody figures that part out.  The next part is then how do I communicate with candidates.  Are you seeing similar behavior, let's say with the other market that you operate in North America because you manage both regions.  Do you see significant differences in candidate behavior and the way they communicate or how recruiters engage with them?


    CAROLINA: Yeah, yeah.  I mean the difference is extreme.  I suppose in the US, I think WhatsApp is not really a thing probably only less than 20% of people are using the application, and this 20%, we're talking about, probably, Latin American people even so as opposed to the rest of the region that WhatsApp is king really.  There is no other way to say it and we are seeing a lot of people, not connecting their job applications to Facebook anymore or to their personal emails, especially recently, and then people prefer a lot to gravitate towards WhatsApp, which is very easy to use.  And then pandemic did create this very extremely, in terms of candidates that are more rural, that are part of regions in Latin America, that was not our average candidate interacting with bots.  And right now we can see that there has been a dramatic switch, people are communicating through WhatsApp to order pizza to get their taxis for everything.  So there used to be that, now in all parts of Latin America, of course, there are still accessibility issues everywhere, but we see the adoption and 96% for most of these countries even countries that are only English speakers like Trinidad and Tobago, they have like 98% adoption on WhatsApp, and they use these as formal channels of communication that will allow them to use rich media, that will allow them to send big text, sometimes it's necessary as opposed to SMS which is what they use in the US but it's far more limited you cannot brand it in any way, and it's costly.  It is really far more expensive.


    MAX: Yeah, it's one of those areas in the US where they are actually a little bit behind.  In China, everything goes on WeChat.  All transactions, all payments, and seems like WhatsApp is supporting all kinds of E-commerce now, and activity and behavior.  It is a bit surprising what you said about the lockdown being a driver for this mobile messaging app adoption.  You would think that with people being stuck at home, maybe they wouldn't use their phone so much, but, it makes sense, I guess to be ordering, yeah to access the world from your phone instead of in the streets.


    CAROLINA: Yeah, and especially younger people.  We see this definitely tracked on our candidates' behavior.  We see numbers that reflect that we have now, income in a lot of candidates, blue-collar workers in rural areas in Latin America.  They are perfectly able to communicate using smartphones for everything now.  All of a sudden scanning a QR code became almost mandatory if you wanted to receive information from their government or health information about COVID or ordering in a restaurant.  You no longer were allowed to touch people or to pay using your hands so one day to another we did make a big turn.  I suppose there's still some stuff that has to be adapted for a younger audience and we've seen that with our clients.  Some of our clients have made tremendous efforts in reaching the people that are not yet ready to go from offline to online.  But yeah, there's been definitely a change.


    MAX: The story of the QR code will have to be written down in tech history as the greatest comeback ever because it was such a big push for it 10 years ago, nobody wanted to touch it, and then what you needed as a pandemic, to now make it the way government communications and everybody else.  So, you are seeing that in recruitment as well?


    CAROLINA: Yeah, definitely.  At least in the sample of clients that we have.  We for a moment experienced a period of time when QR codes were interesting or attractive for them anymore.  And then the pandemic came to bring that back, absolutely.  So, this is the way that they are now using their referral programs, now they're using QR codes.  So they are putting these QR codes on their coffee mugs and on their boards and physical spaces but also they are using it on their email signatures for example, and all these things are things that were not used anymore a couple of years ago.  So I think now you see people in all sorts of restaurants, scanning the menu and everything.  Yeah, so now QR codes are back.  But I guess this is also connected to the region making a 10 years technology.  Seeing my parents and my grandma using Zoom now and that was something that I don't know how long it would have taken for the government, employers, and workers to adapt to that where we are today.  Thanks to the pandemic with all the horrible things that brought it also brought a huge technology lead in the region.


    MAX: Okay.  Other ways COVID affected the candidate behaviors or new trends that you saw pick up and rise in Latin America over the last year and a half?


    CAROLINA: Yeah, I suppose I could think of two big things, making remote work mandatory for anyone who could.  So, a huge percentage of the industries one day to the next day pretty much put mandatory experiments on a global scale, and now a year and a half down the line we are seeing the tremendous success of companies that managed to adapt.  And then there's also like all over our cultural space you see these memes or sketches of people refusing to go back to the office, they just won't do it, and that's very interesting because it's causing in the US a big resignation.  People are just not willing to go back to their former conditions, but in Latin America, it is a little different because, well the region struggles a little more, and the unemployment rate after COVID skyrocketed.  It's now at 11% I suppose in some countries, Costa Rica has 20% unemployment at this point, and that's drastic and very dramatic.  So you see these people that are not willing to go back to their former jobs but at the same time, there is still a lot of unemployment.  So it's difficult for them.


    MAX: For sure. 


    CAROLINA: Exactly. 


    MAX: So, they don't want to come back but maybe they will be a little bit faster than the North Americans.


    CAROLINA: Definitely.


    MAX: We are not supposed to say the Americans because that's a bit. 


    CAROLINA: That is a continent.


    MAX: Yeah, that is a whole continent so we are not supposed to do that.  


    CAROLINA: Yeah. 


    MAX: Well, thank you for coming to share and, of course, there is very little we can cover in this format, but we can talk about a country by country, and if people would like to reach out to you we will put your contacts in the links, but I guess Carolina Vargas on LinkedIn or  Caro can help you optimize your recruiting marketing strategy for the countries you are looking to accelerate in.  Thanks, Caro for joining us. 


    CAROLINA: Thank you very much, Max.  It was a pleasure.



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