7 Myths of Recruiting with Technology

I had a phone call yesterday with a prospective client who starting our conversation with: “I think recruiters are a dying breed.” He thought the Internet and technology were going to do away with search consultants and third-party recruiters.

I explained to him why this won’t happen. In fact, I believe technology is shining the light brighter for why recruiters are needed now more than ever. Before we finished our phone conversation, he wanted to meet one of my candidates.

The Internet has changed recruiting forever. It is a virtual, global, 24-hour job fair. It gives recruiters – and employers – the unprecedented ability to research and reach candidates anywhere. And now with social media, recruiters can find and engage prospective companies and candidates online fast.

The key to this treasure trove is knowing what online tools to use and how to use them. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media each have their unique purpose. Today, recruiters can create their own media network to market, brand and broadcast their messages. The real value begins when recruiters connect their online networks and leverage across platforms.

Like all advertising, a message is only as powerful as its reach to its target audience.

Many think the Internet will eventually doom recruiters by cutting them out. I don’t think so. The Internet has its limits. Yes, it is valuable for research and message speed. But, at the same time, it is creating inefficiencies in the recruiting and hiring process that cost companies dearly. Firms may not see the full impact in today’s candidate rich market. But this is changing.

Recruiters must find their unique selling proposition by answering this:
What can recruiters do that technology and the Internet can’t?

Here are seven myths and realities of the limits of technology in recruiting:

Myth #1: Technology can be used to identify talent.
Reality #1: Yes, the Internet can help find candidates. But it cannot identify and evaluate talent. Search engines find key words in resumes. What if those key words are written inaccurately by unqualified candidates? Recruiters qualify talent by talking with and vetting candidates. Technology cannot do this.

Myth #2: Companies use the Internet to find the best candidates.
Reality #2: Companies post jobs and jobseekers apply to many positions online. This “candidate capture” approach of spreading a wide net tends to attract less satisfied, lower performers. These “Internet candidates” apply for every job they’re interested in, even if they are not qualified. Since they are looking for any job, they may be interviewing at competing companies. Recruiters find out where candidates are applying and help to minimize hiring risks. Technology cannot do this.

Myth #3: Technology can qualify a candidate.
Reality #3: Candidates can be asked questions online: For example, “how many years’ experience do you have?” And, “what compensation are you seeking?” Or, “what interests you about this position and our company?” But technology can’t uncover the drivers and reasons for a career move. Or, what is important to a candidate. Or, a candidate’s career interests and aspirations. Recruiters help create fit. Technology cannot do this.

Myth #4: The Internet is the most efficient way to apply for and find a job.
Reality #4: This is what happens when a job is posted online: Hundreds of people apply. Everyone is put into a database. Resumes go into a black hole. Most never hear back that a resume was received. If they do hear back, it will most likely be an automated message: “Thank you for applying. We will get back to you if your background meets the position requirements.” Most never hear from the company again. Recruiters give direct feedback to a candidate whether he or she is qualified or not and the reasons why. Good recruiters can identify top candidates who may not appear qualified on paper. Recruiters communicate, think and respond. Technology cannot do this.

Myth #5: Technology can help recruit a candidate.
Reality #5: In limited ways. An e-mail or text can be sent to a candidate, “We are interested in interviewing you” and can help arrange the meeting. Recruiters give feedback after an interview and help manage candidates’ expectations and guide them through the interview process. They advise the best candidates on the advantages of a job opportunity over their current employment and other positions they may be looking at. Technology cannot do this.

Myth #6: Technology can help manage the interview and recruiting process.
Reality #6: After an interview, recruiters will debrief and gather feedback from both the company and candidates. They gauge candidates’ interest levels in the company and the job. If a hiring manager or candidate is unsure or needs additional information, recruiters will respond and get the information to help with the decision process. Technology cannot do this.

Myth #7: The Internet and technology can bring aboard the selected candidate.
Reality #7: What if the top candidate is interested in the position, but the parameters aren’t in line with his or her interests? What if he or she receives an offer at another company at the same time? Through discussions, a recruiter helps negotiate the desired outcome and bring aboard the best person to the company. Technology cannot do this.

The main reason technology will not replace recruiters is that it cannot have conversations, listen and respond. Even digital conversations, through email, text or social media, do not have the essential emotional elements (voice, eye contact, chemistry) to guide people through the hiring process.

For a leading company to convey it is truly employee-centric – that it cares about its employees – it must have talented recruiters who care for people from the start of the application and throughout the hiring process.

Companies – which lead now and will in the future – work with top recruiters who have established networks and the skills to identify, evaluate and recruit talent. Technology helps, but it cannot take the place of critical human-to-human interaction. (Until, perhaps artificial intelligence comes into being. But, then, will candidates want to tell their career desires to machines?)

There are many more limits of technology and the Internet in recruiting. Do you agree or disagree? What are your experiences? Please share your ideas in the comments section.

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23 Responses to “7 Myths of Recruiting with Technology”

  1. Robert Winkler says:

    Mike –
    I like your blog and point of view, smart analysis.

  2. Mike Ramer says:

    Thank you Robert.

    I appreciate you stopping by, reading my blog and leaving a comment. Yes, I do believe that human-to-human contact (phone and in-person) is critical in the hiring process. This will never go out of style.

    Best, Mike

  3. Evan Foster says:

    Eye-contact and the ability to interpret body signals are surely an essential part of any interviewing technique. You can’t do that over a phone line.

  4. Mike Ramer says:

    Thanks Evan. Appreciate your comment.

    Absolutely, the best method to interview is in person whenever possible. As you wrote, this is ideal for eye contact and to see body language.

    When it’s not possible to meet in person because of time and distance, the phone and video interviewing via Skype can work well.

    Best, Mike

  5. Mike,

    Great post – very poignant overview of the compelling reasons why technology will never replace a recruiter (or, any human-focused function, expertise, for that matter!).

    This statement, to me, summed it all up: “Recruiters communicate, think and respond. Technology cannot do this.” YES! No matter how ’smart’ technology may seem, it is still inanimate, and the decisions it makes are wrought mechanically.

    You cannot program the initiative of a recruiter’s value into a computer chip and expect it to qualify, attract, interview, coach, negotiate with a candidate.

    As well, you said: “The real value begins when recruiters connect their online networks and leverage across platforms.” You went on to assert: “Like all advertising, a message is only as powerful as its reach to its target audience.”

    These pull-out quotes are only a portion of what I liked about your article, which, end-to-end, would sell any possible reader who might ‘doubt’ the value of the recruiter in the ‘technology / Internet / social networking’ age!

    Nicely done!

    Jacqui

  6. Mike Ramer says:

    Jacqui,

    Thanks very much for your comment. Always appreciate your insights. I especially like to see what you “pick out” that resonates with you.

    Agree, that line sums it up: “Recruiters communicate, think and respond. Technology cannot do this.”

    As the job market strengthens, as it’s beginning to do now, I foresee that technology could “get in the way” and potentially “disrupt” the hiring process for many companies.

    How? It’s creating a “log jam” and slowing down the decision process. Who will be the winners? Companies that are adept at evaluating talent and make faster hiring decisions.

    Best, Mike

  7. Hi Mike – pertinent points. There will always be a demand for good recruitment and search specialists. Technology simply doesn’t make the same value added contribution? I have seen clients who try and do it all themselves with software programmes, who end up bogged down in thousands of off target resumes. This is especially true in Europe which is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural environment. Relationship building, networking and evaluation skills are vital.

    Best

    Dorothy

  8. Mike Ramer says:

    Hi Dorothy,

    Thanks for your comment. I agree with you completely.

    It’s a fascinating time we’re going through – a period of “technological innovation and explosion” – driven by Web 2.0 and social media – during a “candidate-rich” job market.

    Companies are attempting to recruit themselves through candidate capture approaches and social recruiting. And, they’re learning that it’s not as effective and efficient, compared to what you state: “relationship building, networking and evaluation…” In fact, companies are finding out that it’s costing them more in time and money.

    I agree with you: The more complex the recruiting environment (different languages/cultures like in Europe), the more recruiting experts are needed. It’s similar in the U.S. with its sub-cultures and high demand for talent in certain fields. Technology simply cannot manage the recruiting nuances.

    If leading firms want to hire talent, they need talent (proven recruiting professionals) to help them evaluate and secure the talent.

    Best, Mike

  9. Tom Bolt says:

    Very detailed…and necessary…article, Mike. Too often the “tool” and the “job” melt together to form an unrealistic beast which resembles neither. If we understand the task at hand and carefully choose the correct technological tools to assist, we can expect to achieve better results. Technology for technology sake is rarely the answer.

  10. Mike Ramer says:

    Thanks Tom. Appreciate your comment.

    Yes, the tools of technology can “assist”. No question. For example, in name sourcing in the front end of the process.

    However, it’s the human dynamic that counts for 80%+ of recruiting success, in my experience. The reason: Each person (candidate) comes with a different background, experiences and set of expectations. Recruiters qualify and respond with insight. Technology cannot.

    Best, Mike

  11. The world is changing. We are seeing retail models across many industries disappear such as Blockbuster in video rental and Borders in books for example. Recruiting will be seeing disruptive change as well… My belief is that we need to have a blended approach of people and technology working together, a mixture of art and science. Today most recruiters work off their gut with little or no technology to improve their ability to deliver the right talent to the right employer, so what we have in the workforce is a bunch of unhappy people on both sides of the equation. I’d love to show you what we are doing at Readyforce if you want a demo to give you a glimpse into what the future holds. The market is very big, there will be room for many players, no one solution fits every need. Relationships, customer service, and differentiation will all be key in our abilities to land new clients and keep current customers happy.

  12. Mike Ramer says:

    Hi Craig,

    Appreciate your comment. Agree with you fully. Disruptive technologies will continue to change industries, as you mentioned in the cases for Blockbuster and Borders. Look at Netflix, for example.

    As I see it, the recruiting industry is a bit different and more complex because people are the product. As you’d agree each person/candidate has a unique background and set of experiences. You are right: “no one solution fits every need.”

    What’s happening now is VC money is flowing into recruiting referral technologies. See this Recruiter.com article in which I summarized and commented: Will Technology Replace Recruiters? http://bit.ly/f8nrWy

    I recently received a tweet: “Agree with you Mike: great recruiter impacts candidate exp, impacts corp brand. Tech alone can’t do that.”

    The big question is: “How much can technology impact recruiting?” That is, what weight will it have? This is to be determined. Right now I think the recruiting/hiring process is about 20% tech/80% human. Can tech’s weight rise to 50% or higher. It’s possible in years to come. For example, I think video interviewing and multi-media resumes will become the norm.

    However, in my view – at least in executive recruiting – the people element/human insight will continue to carry the greatest weight in recruiting/securing talent.

    Best, Mike

  13. I think you make some interesting points… however, recruiting is really evolving with Web 2.0, and we increasingly see tools and new ventures that aim to replace human work.

    While I believe the human aspect in recruitment is very important (in my opinion, real interactions, whether face to face or on the phone, are essential before hiring someone), I think technology can help us source better. While my opinion is perhaps a little bit biased because I work for a startup that is trying to reshape recruitment and to make it better, I still think that some tasks will be replaced by technology.

    For instance, prequalification of candidates. I believe that so much time is wasted poring over résumés and trying to find “the perfect fit’… this is especially true in big companies, where you also have to deal with ATS hell (!). This is just an example of where technology could improve current practices… by putting processes in place that will be able to sort candidates, and determine whether or not they should apply for a specific job.

  14. Mike Ramer says:

    Hi Lisa, Great comment. I hear you loud and clear.

    I’m glad you think I “make some interesting points.” Agree completely that “recruiting is really evolving with Web 2.0″. No question that “technology could improve current practices…”

    Let’s strip recruiting down to its core. There’s a company that has a position open and wants to hire. There’s a candidate out there who is qualified and *may be* interested in the job. How are these two going to find each other?

    Yes, automated “sourcing” with the use of technology (ATS, new recruitment tools, social networks etc.) can help find *potentially* qualified *names*. But it can’t find qualified and *interested people*.

    People (candidates and hiring managers) must talk with, question, persuade each other. There are concerns, emotions, reasons, *chemistry* that must be addressed, considered, managed throughout the interview and hiring process.

    As far as I can see, technology might be able to take up to 25% of the hiring process (primarily in upfront name sourcing and basic qualification). But it cannot IMO, as I wrote in my post, “take the place of critical human-to-human interaction” which is at least 75% of the interview/hiring process.

    The recruiting world and companies are trying to figure this out. The high unemployment market now is *enabling* companies to think that technology is a panacea, because it is easier to *capture* candidates today. But when the employment market tightens, as it will, as it is now in specific fields/geographies, technology isn’t helping much to recruit prized candidates. That takes skilled, experienced recruiters.

    Best, Mike

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  16. Bill Vick says:

    You nailed it Mike! Excellent points and as long as the candidate the company is looking for is not looking for him we, recruiters, have a reason for being. Too many recruiters have been seduced by the technology and forget good recruiting is still about relationships, decisions and more.

    I’m planning on quoting you article at me presentation at The Fordyce Forum this week in Dallas. :)

  17. Jeff Snyder says:

    Mike, thank you for investing your time to capture recruiting in 2013 in written words. Because I agree with much, maybe most and perhaps all of what you wrote, I’ll simply share a real situation I am currently facing that I believe captures the point of your article.

    A CEO from a fast-growing security technology company that has created game-changing technology recently contacted me. For a mission critical role he has to fill, he explained that his team had surfaced several qualified candidates. He had trouble admitting what the problem was but after I carefully probed just enough, I discovered that this CEO and whoever makes up his hiring team could not close the deal.

    Once this fact was on the table, I asked more questions. There is no doubt that the CEO I was on the phone with was very intelligent and there was aldo no doubt in my mind that this CEO had never thought through what recruiting is reall all about. Brilliant engineering students are not taught much about the human side of their future professions in school.

    I explained that recruiting starts long before a company has a position to fill. I talked to the CEO about his branding from the standpoint of attracting talent. He’d never thought about branding that way. I explained that since recruiting in its purest form is sales, he would need to have someone involved in his recruiting process who could both teach his hiring team how to sell and that person needed to be a seasoned sales professional themselves because they’d need to understand how to begin closing top candidates at the same moment in time when they were evaluating top candidates on behalf of his company. I asked the CEO if he had a player like the one I’d just described on his team. He did not. In fact,he’d never given this much thought to the mechanics of recruiting before.

    I asked the CEO who had built his company’s process around talent acquisition. He explained that they had all kinds of processes built around software development but he had never thought about building a process around talent acquisition. We then talked about the necessity of building a talent acquisition process.

    Prior to our discussion, the CEO thought about recruiting in a linear fashion. By the time we were finished with our call, I had introduced a multi-dimensional thought process around talent acquisition that the CEO had never before considered.

    While he didn’t understand how to personally address the multiple dimensions of thought I put on the table, this CEO clearly understood why he needed help. It was the CEO after all who made my phone ring. He knew that what he was doing wasn’t working but he didn’t know how to solve his multi-dimensional problem alone.

    This CEO no longer believes that posting a job on any job board alone will attract top talent to his company. Though he doesn’t know how to turn his problem into an opportunity by himself, I’ll soon be helping this CEO to build a system around recruiting that is driven by branding, technology, process, people and sales to ultimately close top performers on the idea of joining his team.

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