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How to leverage tech to boost your talent acquisition capabilities

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read

Talent acquisition (TA) has proved to be a challenge for many businesses in the post-COVID-19 era of work. However, paying attention to trends and using them to your advantage can help to stay ahead of the competition.

This is the advice of Mike Virgo, Coles’ talent acquisition national manager, who was named Talent Acquisition Leader of the Year at SEEK’s STAR Awards. Mr Virgo’s team also took out the Talent Acquisition Team of the Year category for over 1,000 employees.

“Every TA team across the country, and probably most places across the world, have been working extremely hard over the last couple of years. It’s been a pretty unusual couple of years. It’s made things really difficult for us,” said Mr Virgo.


“The team do churn out a huge amount of work. [We worked] 60,000 hours; that’s double what we were doing pre-COVID. So, the team have worked incredibly hard to deliver huge volumes in our space but also maintain the quality levels is something that I’ve been really proud of.”

There have been a variety of challenges that have affected even large organisations like Coles.

“It’s the first time in my career that we’ve seen such a large shift that’s impacted every segment of the employment market,” Mr Virgo explained.

“We’ve seen challenges from technology hire perspective. We’ve seen a challenge for frontline retail hiring in our stores that impacted every area that we’re accruing in different ways. In the corporate space, we’ve seen hyper-competition and skill shortages and salary inflation in specific segments. In the frontline space, low unemployment rates have made it extremely difficult to find and attract talent for operational roles.”

“That will continue. We have seen signs that it is easing to an extent, but relative to where we were pre-COVID and everything that’s happened between now and then, it’s still a very difficult competitive market to recruit in,” he said.

Mr Virgo believes that Coles’ use of technology has helped the team to stand out and operate so effectively in the TA space.

“What we’ve been able to achieve in that space around our volume hiring and automation and the use of AI, that I think helped us stand out a little bit.”

“Our focus over the next little while is, ‘How do we continue to leverage technology to make our processes frictionless and easy for our candidates as possible and make it as engaging as possible?’ I think a big part for us is, ‘How do we stand out from our competitors, from other organisations in the market and be positioned as an employer of choice for candidates?’” he said.

Getting the basics right is extremely important, said Mr Virgo. Technology can assist in this by helping to create an engaging hiring process.

“How do you continue to do the basics really well? And that’s leveraging employer brand, being really active from a talent marketing perspective, standing out from the crowd. But again, the major trend for me is how you leverage technology. How do you leverage technology to create a process that’s super inclusive, super accessible, frictionless for candidates and really engaging?” he said.

Mr Virgo added: “I think it’s about getting the basics done really well at the moment ... I think you’re going to be shown up unless you can get that right.”

Mr Virgo was named the Talent Acquisition Leader of the Year at the 2022 STAR Awards.

Submissions for the 2023 STAR Awards are now open. To learn more about the awards, or to enter, click here.

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Mike Virgo, click below:



The practice of actively seeking, locating, and employing people for a certain position or career in a corporation is known as recruitment.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.