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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