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People will always need people

26 Jul 09:00 by Ali Kimmorley

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There’s no denying technology has taken leaps and bounds in the recruitment industry in the past 10 years or so, but it’s impossible to imagine it ever replacing human interaction and relationship-building in this dynamic space.

When professional networking site LinkedIn was launched in 2003, many predicted it would be the death of the recruitment industry. But 13 years later, nothing could be further from the truth. While it’s one thing to identify talent via LinkedIn, it takes personal interaction to get those candidates to the hiring table to guide and encourage them in their career choices.

Recruitment is a long way from the retail sector in which it’s easy to make quick decisions online. The industry is based on long-term, life-changing decisions – and that takes more than a click on a mouse. People are always going to be more comfortable about making important choices when they’re interacting with another person and placing someone in a new role can’t happen via a message online; it’s a process that evolves through meaningful conversations and personal interactions.

On the other hand, social media can be a dynamic sphere that enhances the work of today’s recruiters because it gives a snapshot of a candidate’s life away from the interview room. Love them or loathe them, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and their stablemates help recruiters evaluate a candidate; find out what their hobbies are; what they deem to be appropriate behaviour; who their networks are and whether those networks will benefit a potential employer.

The recruitment industry hasn’t always enjoyed a positive reputation; mainly because historically there have been companies who treat candidates like numbers, with little or no communication and a lack of genuine regard for their individual situations.

The good news is there are plenty of good recruiters in the industry that treat applicants with the respect they deserve and work diligently to get the ‘best bottom in the seat’, not just ‘any bottom in the seat’.

Thanks to broader technology changes such as specialty recruitment CRM systems, these days there’s no excuse to leave candidates hanging because capturing information is lightning quick. Time was often a challenge for busy recruiters in the past, but today regular feedback on the status of applications is a much more efficient and easily communicated process.

Like all technology, any CRM system is only as good as the information put into it, and once again it’s the human element that makes one recruitment firm stand above another. Capturing data from all avenues – LinkedIn, advertising, your own network, etc – to create a candidate base is crucial because it means a company can retain valuable information for future transactions. This can be a big differentiator between a specialty company and in-house recruiting departments that often just begin again from scratch with each new vacancy – with their talent pools limited to candidates actively looking at job boards.

But again, data and a fertile candidate base only go so far, because if the selection, negotiating and placement processes – with all the challenges they throw up in a competitive market – are not handled professionally and sensitively, then an employer may never secure the best talent.

And all the technology in the world won’t change that.

This article first appeared in the July edition of Hunter Business Review.