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Inefficient and ineffective: the truth about recruitment technology

Recruitment technology

January 11, 2019

Recruitment technology is transforming our lives. An idle glance at recruitment blogs and articles in the specialist media would have you believe that hiring has never been simpler, better and cheaper. Not so. This is not the view of a jaded headhunter, but something I hear time and again from my clients (both employers and candidates).

In truth, many of these much-lauded tech innovations are tying the recruitment process up in knots, certainly when it comes to senior, specialist roles. The system is clogged with irrelevant CVs, spammy job ads, badly-written briefs and dodgy data. This is hardly surprising when, on average, businesses use up to 24 recruiting technologies to “help improve their hiring process”.  AI, social media and other tools have their place, but not at the expense of human interaction, experience and intuition.

Where have all the humans gone?

In this brave new world of robotic recruitment, humans are fast becoming an endangered species. Has it been forgotten that this is a people business? Jobs are not automated tasks, careers aren’t built on box-ticking, and inspirational leaders and skilled practitioners don’t arrive in a flatpack self-assembly kit.

I can find out more about a role, a candidate or an employer brief in a 15-minute conversation than I ever will by trawling through reams of data analytics; cultural fit is a nuanced exercise of identifying intangibles and matching expectations.

Despite all the clever recruitment technology now available, I remain convinced that getting under the skin of a brief, understanding a candidate’s motivations, creating trust and rapport and ensuring a ‘right first time’ service for my clients can only be done through personal interaction.

I have lost count of the number of times a client has told me that they are drowning in unsuitable CVs which have been ‘selected’ by a software-driven process. Recruitment technology systems may have filtered out the completely irrelevant, but even the most sophisticated of algorithms falls short when filling a senior, specialist role.

The ultimate goal is surely a shortlist of one, the perfect person for the job – something which is impossible to achieve through technology (not least because the program is probably designed to ensure that a minimum of at least two people are shortlisted). However, for a niche recruiter like Kumo, this is eminently achievable.

Candidate woes

It’s not just at the employer end of the process that the system isn’t working. For candidates, the job search is a thoroughly dispiriting experience where they are required to jump through a series of unwieldy and impersonal set of hoops, from registering on a CV portal, responding to automated messages and being ‘interviewed’ by a computer, to uploading all manner of documentation, often to be rewarded by deafening silence. After many soul-destroying hours at a screen, they may never even hear from the employer, let alone enjoy the warmth of human interaction and the benefit of constructive feedback.

It may be a candidate-driven market, but that doesn’t mean that job seekers should be treated as a commodity.  Matching person and specification is as much an art as a science, and robots have yet to master artistry (and never will). With clever technology now able to assist in the hiring process, it makes the role of human practitioners even more vital in providing the ‘je ne sais quoi’ which ensures a successful match for all parties.

Working with an experienced, specialist recruiter who has an appropriate network of proven contacts is ultimately a far more effective and efficient way to marry candidates and vacancies successfully. Focusing on personal connections and a deep understanding of the people and businesses involved cuts out an enormous amount of time and wasted effort.

Beware the upstarts

I would also argue that the growth of the recruitment technology industry has spawned a new breed of agencies promising that they can find and fill vacancies faster, cheaper and better than ever before.  Their approach is clear: bamboozle the client with AI jargon, chuck enough CVs at them and one is bound to be good enough, chase the fee and get out quick before anyone notices that they’ve recruited entirely the wrong person for the job.

Employers whose heads are turned by such shiny-suited charlatans invariably pay the price, yet they can hardly be blamed for taking the bait. Given the pressures on recruitment professionals to fill vacancies, not to mention the ever-tighter budget restrictions imposed upon them, the temptation can be irresistible. But what of the value of experience and reputation?

It’s natural to be lured by the thrill of new recruitment technology and its flashy proponents, but in our sector, there is much to be said for working with safe, trusted and proven practitioners.  I’m only as good as my last candidate placement. While I have a network of thousands built up over many years, if I didn’t keep delivering for my clients, my reputation would soon be in tatters.  There’s a reason that multinational businesses retain a niche recruiter like me: because they can’t find my expertise elsewhere, and definitely not in an algorithm.

A happy medium

Don’t misunderstand me – I’m no Luddite. I am a passionate believer in the value of tech which enhances the human experience. From social media which helps us connect and share ideas, to apps to improve efficiency and manage assets easily, or digital communication tools which promote collaboration, I have enormous respect for recruitment technology of many kinds.

However, when we allow ourselves to be dazzled – nay, blinded – by what can be done, we forget about what should be done. Humans remain the masters of technology (for now at least), so let us be more discerning in our employment of digital innovation and never lose sight of the importance of the human touch.

If you think your recruitment process could benefit from my human-centric skills and extensive Lean network, please get in touch.

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