As I said in a column a few weeks ago (The Future of Staffing), the elimination of the recruiter and the demise of the staffing industry are frequently predicted, particularly when a new technology emerges. It seems not a day goes by when I don’t see something being touted as the greatest way to source candidates and proclaiming that it will now replace the need for a human recruiter. I am actually a huge fan of some of the latest tools and technologies but I also have 30+ years of working in the industry, as a technical professional and as a staffing firm owner, and I am not worried that the “human” part of the recruiting process is going to disappear any time soon.
First, I agree with the many who write that the ability to search intelligently across the swath of digital information each of us makes available online is a game-changer. The key to success in efficiently sourcing is being able to focus on the specific attributes needed and contacting only those candidates who really match. Those who are looking for a new position are likely to find you, so the true potential lies in identifying passive candidates. That’s what wedding social media and online presence with powerful search tools promises to do. While it is still relatively early in the game, tools are starting to emerge that do some great things now and promise greater things in the future.
In Digital Recruiting is not Mission Impossible, author Jerry Thurber discusses “the growth of social data mining for recruiting, employee engagement, employee development, and contract staffing,” predicting that, “it is going to explode in the next 2 to 3 years.” In The End of Sourcing Is Near … the Remaining Recruiting Challenge Is Selling, Dr. John Sullivan says that “the time is rapidly approaching where nearly every professional and working individual in the developed world can be found by a recruiting function.” Staffing Talk ran an article about TalentBin last week, asking “is it the reinvention of recruiting or a LinkedIn competitor?” Recently eHarmony made a splash announcing that it was getting into the job search market too. It isn’t just technology either, the employee referral rates have skyrocketed and some firms actually nearly exclusively recruit this way. I can keep finding examples and I’d love to hear from you about your favorites but the point is the market is rapidly evolving.
There is an exponentially growing amount of information about people online (data) that can be searched and aggregated (software) to a useful purpose (recruiting). You either have data that people want or a tool to mine the data or both. LinkedIn’s strength is that it has a user population that is attractive to employers and they have a great tool (for a price) that allows you to efficiently search and organize the results in a really helpful way. My experience with their recruiting package has been very positive. One of the benefits of TalentBin that is mentioned is that they have accessed patent application information, tapping into previously unsearchable data on thousands of presumably smart, motivated individuals. Both offer a tremendous value in identifying those elusive passive candidates, the ones we’re all looking for. There are other, and will be more, competitors. This is all really in its infancy in many ways but success stories are already being told and I can personally add my own.
So, am I foolishly embracing technology that will eventually put me out of business? No. Dr. Sullivan rightly points out that half of recruiting is finding but the other important part is convincing the candidate to take the job. There also needs to be someone to read the results of the online search, to evaluate and assess the candidates, to interview, etc. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you cannot replace the entire recruiting process with software and algorithms. Human beings need to interact with human beings. Look no further than Staffing Talk’s article Job Board? Fail. Recruiter? Fail. Career Site? Fail. for an example of how automation and technology do not always work as planned and how “systems” designed to save time and money may actually hurt your recruiting efforts.
Let me restate, I love the abilities already in action when it comes to utilizing advanced search methodologies and the increased data that’s available, and I look forward to most of the promises for the future of such search capabilities. But when it comes to thinking that any of this can do the job on its own, I don’t believe it. These are great tools that will make a whole lot of people’s lives easier. Sourcing will undoubtedly take up less time in a recruiter’s day but that just means they’ll have more time for the critical interactions no program can ever undertake.
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