As hiring processes become increasingly automated, Sam Randall, Senior Manager, Technology, Financial Services, Robert Walters, debates about the role recruiters currently play in securing high-potential talent.
Over the years there have been a number of changes in the way that companies have been engaging with the market and conducting their hiring.
When job boards first launched, they were touted as the death of the recruitment agency as companies could go out and find all the talent they needed directly. Similarly, when LinkedIn gathered momentum it was touted as the death of the recruitment agency, as companies could go out and find all the talent they needed directly.
Now we have Artificial Intelligence (AI) with smart algorithms and the ability to filter huge amounts of information almost instantaneously. These systems are also able to analyse results and understand emerging trends. This helps them to learn from experiences so they can constantly improve their return search results that are more likely to meet the success criteria of the search.
Furthermore, Facebook is moving into the corporate world with its recent Slack competitor Workplace, a communication tool designed to revolutionise communication in the workplace. Facebook also has its sights set on competing with LinkedIn, as somewhere candidates and employers can meet.
Facebook currently has 1.18b users (66% of user base) who are active daily – significantly higher than LinkedIn’s 106m unique visitors monthly (23% of user base) and while a large portion of these FB users will be using the medium for the important task of posting pictures of themselves or their dinner – there will still be a large proportion of the user base who will be professionals who are, have been or will soon again be looking for a job. This pool of potential candidates makes up a significant percentage of the world’s population and the implications of being able to reach out to find, connect, and interact with this size of a group is truly mind blowing.
Surely, this too must mean the death of the recruitment agency, right?
Well, I think a low skilled approach works for the generalists, the volume players and the companies who rely on a high volume of talent.
I think that the recruitment industry (like all industries) is changing with the advancement of technology and I think that recruitment businesses (like all businesses) must change to stay relevant. For high volume mass recruitment and / or straight forward roles, companies can go direct to the market with good results. But for the specialist recruiter, who understands a more technical or complicated market at a deep level, I believe there is still a very important place in this busy market and here is why:
1. The network and the passive candidate
One thing that AI cannot do (yet) is go for a coffee with someone and build a relationship. Despite the ever increasing pervasiveness of social networks, people will always value a relationship that has been built over a period of time. People like to work with people they trust. Many of the job seekers we work with aren’t actively looking; they are comfortable where they are but they are interested in having a conversation if something interesting comes up. This means that they may not be on any job portals, their LinkedIn profiles may not be up to date, or they may not respond to approaches from unknown sources. However, they will accept a call from someone they have an existing relationship with.
2. Job description
I have never met a hiring manager who actually enjoys writing a job description (JD). I can’t recall having met any who have been given training in writing a JD or how to structure the content appropriately for an automated search. Many managers will borrow a colleague’s JD and just change a few key words to suit their needs. I regularly find that a JD does not match the actual requirements of the hiring manager nor align well to the brief given during a meeting. Having the ability to interrogate the brief and really drill down to the core requirements is a skill that can take a long time to perfect. A good recruiter will also be able to share market intel on how realistic the expectations of the hiring manager are, in relation to the availability of candidates which directly match their requirements.
“I know he doesn’t fit the spec, but you’re gonna love this profile!”
One way that specialist recruiters can add real value is by providing a particular left field candidate. This is a type of candidate whose CV would never have passed through screening and/or a hiring manager. Being able to provide a strong rationale for proposing an alternative yet relevant candidate can really demonstrate how a recruiter can add value by using the human element.
Anyone who has been in recruitment or has tried to find a candidate for their business will understand just how long it takes to screen through 300 advert responses, or filter through 200 LinkedIn profiles. A good recruiter, on the other hand, has the best candidates at hand and is normally able to provide a solid shortlist of candidates within 48 hours. Time, as they say, is money.
I believe that these are all good examples of where the human element brings value to the recruitment process and I think that recruitment agencies must adapt and continue to find a way to add value to an increasingly automated process, or face going out of business altogether.
One day, algorithms will be smart enough to do all of this and more. However, when that day comes we will probably have bigger issues to face than whether or not you go to a recruiter for your next hire!
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