Ahh we love the ‘humans versus robots’ debate, don’t we? Well more than ever, it becomes apparent that human-tasked roles at scale are being replaced. Auto-driven lorries in the US, robot-controlled order-picking at Amazon, and driverless cars with Tesla.
And what about recruitment?
“What?? Not us!!” is what I persistently hear, when we are faced with this subject, and the preposterousness of it all sets us into a panic.
However, it’s a good point. How can a robot, a piece of technology, an algorithm; how can they possibly make the kind of decisions that recruiters make, the human element, the relationships, the conversations, the crucial judgments, and the nuances of selection that set us apart and earn our fees?
Well let’s wind back a little. Robots aren’t going to start making placements for us yet; or start negotiating with our clients; and C3PO isn’t going to start making your sales calls.
However the purpose of the rise of automation and to a degree, A.I., is designed to enhance efficiency. Amazon created automated robot-operated fulfilment centres, because the task is repetitive and is largely inefficient by human hands; and performance became both faster and less costly, in an machine-driven process. We humans are poor at repetition – we tire, we get bored, we aspire for more juicy work.
So, preposterous as it seems, how can we parallel this with our recruitment agencies?
Well, I’ve been in recruiting for nearly 25 years – it’s pretty easy to list off the elements in our jobs, that are frankly inefficient:
1. CV sourcing
2. CV reading & analysis
3. Advertising response
4. Cold approaches
5. Interview scheduling
6. CRM data management
7. CRM data analysis
8. Paperwork & Compliance
Well damn. That sounds like a lot of the stuff we do, doesn’t it? But hold on, how many of those 8 things are directly attributed to those human factors we discussed…? – human judgment nuances, interviews, sales calls, candidate calls, relationships and negotiation. None of these factors are responsible for the make-or-break factors that dictate whether we get a fee or not – the factors that can only be executed by human influence.
As a former recruitment agency owner and director, I was a stickler for efficiency, smart judgments, and the decrease of time-consuming volume actions. I have barely advertised a role on a job board in the past 12 years. Reason? It’s costly and inefficient. Or access to market ultimately was intensely human, community and relationships driven – but we had the feed the funnel. We did it through magnetism, appealing to the greater audience with equal effort, but it was hard to measure. And it’s because technology wasn’t as good as it is now.
For recruitment agency owners and leaders out there, how often do you identify inefficiencies within your business? The things that stop your recruiters prioritise speaking with warm clients and warm candidates all the time. The utopia is surely that you have your recruiters maximising their time with warm and hot conversations which shorten the time to shortlist, and hence the time to place roles. The greatest value in your agency, to your clients – is the direct access to warm or available talent in a timely manner they could not achieve themselves.
The utopia is surely that it doesn’t take your recruiters 100 advert response, 100 LinkedIn profile search views, and 30 cold approaches, to get there. Hours of time to reach a shortlist of 5 if we’re lucky.
When you say you are sick of your recruiters “staring at their screens”, well it’s because frankly they just don’t know who to call.
This is called option paralysis. The inability to create clear definition from volume.
Technology *has* to be the resolution to all of this. 5 years ago maybe not, but now we are at a level of sophistication in technology that means volume activity at the wider end of the client and candidate attraction funnel need not be a primarily human exercise. If 20% of talent is actively considering a new role now; then those are the 20% that we want to identify inside the first day of an assignment and be focusing our expensive human recruiter time on engaging with.
But what about the wider funnel, and how do we quickly identify the difference between the warm and cool candidates, in order to treat them accordingly?
Modern day technology such as the remarkably unique Candidate.ID and others besides with different elements of automation, helps us identify and score that kind of magnetism I referred to earlier. Tracking our CRM data and our talent networks’ digital engagements, behaviours and motivation indicators through their interactions with your content, digital assets and email marketing response journeys; speaks volumes and helps our recruiters indicate better who they should be calling first, and who just needs to be continued to nurture for future needs.
Technology does this now – it tells you who by name is on your website in real time. The ones who are sitting on your job pages, and researching your agency, should be the ones we are contacting first.
That is powerful. That is a huge enabler, and creates the formidability of enhanced knowledge and prioritised actions. I know a recruitment agency in a competitive talent market, who’s morning meeting consists of taking the list of candidates and target clients who interacted with their content or read their job sections on the website; and establishing a plan of action for each. How smart is that? Only focusing on warm candidates, before diving into the abyss of LinkedIn searches and ad responses.
As with all evolution, building walls against the evolving subjects is not going to help anyone. We have to work in tandem with evolution and get ahead of our market. Working with and speaking with recruitment leaders about Candidate.ID, I see the ones who are making those moves – striving to gain competitive advantage by tracking the changing demands of the candidate, and embracing how automation technology supports that.
Robots aren’t taking good Recruiters’ job anytime soon. They may replace some of the poor recruiters, but they will absolutely enable the good ones to be even better. Let’s celebrate this.