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Is technology making recruitment harder?

Technophobe or not, it is hard to hide and not be affected by technology. It advances at a rate often quicker than our learning; all with the agenda of making life-better through efficiency and speed.

Business and in this example ‘recruitment’ is at the forefront of this technology. Where profits are the priority, the need to be more efficient, quicker and smarter than the competition is crucial.

From Boolean searching to social media, CRMs to analytical tools and smart algorithms, the recruitment industry seems to be embracing innovation. It is quicker to engage a large audience than it ever has been, more efficient to keyword search CVs for suitable skills and to engage systematic and functional databases that capture all correspondence regarding business transactions.

However, this doesn’t answer the question: Is technology making recruitment harder?

At first glance the answer is a resounding NO! How can it be when everything is becoming more streamlined and the world from a technology point of view is at our fingertips?

To counter this we need to go back to the industry’s origin…

Those of us that are old enough to recall or have listened to those that were there in the beginning will know it was all very different. There was nowhere to upload CVs, they were filed in paper form. We used faxes and filofaxes. Names and details were often filed in physical files, noted in a book or on our desk in a chronological card flipper. Probably a nightmare scenario for the modern recruiter. However, profits were strong as the system still worked. How can this be?

An indicator of how this worked was what was asked when a client would make contact for a resource. The common conversation would be if we had anyone matching the criteria ‘on the books’. It’s a term that is still common today. However, the answer today is nearly always ‘yes’ as we have access to most people - one way or another.

Going back in time again a well-networked and established recruiter would generally be able to say YES. The ‘books’ maybe limited, but it was theirs. They knew their candidates without the AI prompts. For the client, there was genuine value to the recruiter’s books or network and return business was likely. If the same client was to ring another recruiter they would likely find a batch of very different candidates on their books. This reality gave a significant differential between recruiters and organisations and thus made recruitment agreeably easier.

Coming back to the present day: yes, everything is quicker and we are able to reach, engage and attract candidates from a much larger pool with stealth-like efficiency.

However, what are the differentials? Most recruiters have access to the same tools and are fishing in the same pond with the same speed. It is one thing to be faster, but if this is still the same speed as your competition are you really getting faster? Also many clients have access to many of the same tools at a cost. The easier technology is making it for the user, the easier it is for the recruiter to be redundant.

There are complexities and skill-sets that will counteract any risk to the industry from AI and technology. The human touch is still currently priceless, but there is a fair argument that the role of the recruiter has become harder and technology has made it easier.

Looking at the future of technology and the concepts coming out of the Silicon Valley, it would appear that the ‘easier’ it gets the harder it will be to stand from the crowd and the harder to differentiate by what’s on your books. Maybe the next race is not about being the first to the best candidates, but who will be the first to the best technology.

What do you think?

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