Recruiters – Is Technology the End of the Line?

c-level standoff

There is some dust being kicked up these days in the hiring industry surrounding recruiting software and automation vs. live recruiters. Is technology taking over the recruiting process and leaving recruiters by the wayside? And if so, is it a good thing?

The fact is that the best technology changes the recruiters’ job for the better. After all, the primary purpose of any recruiting software is to enable recruiters to fill client job orders faster and more efficiently, and thereby more profitably. The newest recruiting software technology allows recruiters to manage their days more efficiently from one screen, categorize and track candidates with easy access to critical data, and administer the entire hiring process through the user interface.

With recruiting software benefits at their fingertips recruiters have got more time to be, well, human.

But there are different schools of thought. In her recent blog post at Forbes, How Technology Killed Recruiting, Liz Ryan, founder and CEO of Human Workplace, brings up the drawback of technology in the recruiting process. She specifically takes Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) technology to task, pointing out that for the most part, every ATS asks for reams of useless information on tasks and duties for all jobs a candidate has had.

“When you fill out an online job application, it asks you where you worked and for how long, and it asks for your job title,” she wrote. “Any reasonable person can extrapolate your major duties from the job title, but every ATS I’ve ever seen goes ahead and asks for the tasks and duties you performed, anyway.”

Ryan suggests that if ATS tools were designed with humans in mind, the “mind-numbing” number of fields to be completed and boxes to be checked on pages-long applications would be scrapped. And the terse auto-responses, “Your application has been received … if there is interest in your background for any position, we will let you know,” would be substituted with a message that at the very least thanks a candidate for their time and interest.

Liz Ryan has a point. She calls reverting back to a more human approach to the process. What does that mean?

Design ATS tools with human logic and “humanize the selection process,” she says. Having more human-friendly methods will attract those elusive top-quality and passive candidates.

Will they? The fact is that today’s hiring industry is completely different from even five years ago. We’ve got a global shortage of qualified talent, according to some business surveys, yet we’ve got job sites sprouting up everywhere online to help job seekers.

In this atmosphere recruiters are often behind the eight ball when it comes to finding top-notch candidates. There just aren’t that many out there who are actively seeking new positions. So, when a candidate who fits the bill has to fill out an antiquated online application, they might just decide against diving into what Ryan terms as “Black Holes for job seekers.”


The Human Touch

That’s where the human approach comes in. On the one hand, there is no doubt that Web 2.0 has made sourcing easier than ever. In his post Why Recruitment Is Not Dying, recruiting consultant Andrew Fairley addresses the notion that all candidates have digital footprints and that makes it easier for employers with recruiting software to source talent directly. Yet the majority of strong candidates aren’t picked up off of job boards.

There is the occasional quality job seeker who will be plucked from those responding to postings, but according to Fairley, for the most part there are a host of others who need to be found in other more personal ways, such as through networking events, user group meetings and sponsoring conferences. And that’s where the human hand comes in.

Evidence indicates that the most valuable recruiting tool we have is networking and referrals. (A 2013 CareerXRoads 2013 Source of Hire report shows that referrals still occupy the top spot when it comes to external hires). This cannot be replicated with any technology and needs the human touch. In fact you need smart recruiting software, capable of leveraging your networking contacts and communications. Add a human being to that mix and the job gets done.

At the end of the day, I would state that recruiting software technology and recruiters can actually effectively co-exist. In fact, both are essential for hiring success.

Learn more about the latest news in recruiting by visiting the Bond US blog for staffing and recruiting professionals.

MORE: The evolution of the ATS

Phil McCutchen

Phil McCutchen
Phil McCutchen is marketing manager at Bond US.

Phil McCutchen

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