Will technology wipe out recruitment?


I think every service industry has been asking itself this question over the past decade or so.  Having moved into a new role, I’ve been looking at the business to see what we can do differently to get ahead of the competition and one thing is clear- people are trying to find the solution in tech!!  To rub salt into the wounds, a few HR people have told me that apparently the recruitment industry will die because of things like Linkedin or online recruitment solutions, but I’m not sure I agree, and the main reason for this is because our product is people.

Who knows if one day we’ll have drones  dropping candidates off for their first day at work…..?

Undated handout artist impression issued by BAE Systems of a small UAV carrying a person as 3D printers could be made so advanced that they could create small unmanned aircraft, BAE Systems scientists and engineers claim. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday July 6, 2014. By 2040 3D printers could be made so advanced that they could create small unmanned aircraft, BAE Systems scientists and engineers claim. Nick Colosimo, a futurist and engineering manager at BAE Systems Systems' research and development team in Warton, Lancashire, said: "Of course we don't know exactly what sorts of aircraft technologies will be used in 2040 with any certainty, but it's great to be able to show the public some concepts that might be possible through projecting where today's technology could get to. See PA story DEFENCE Aircraft. Photo credit should read: BAE Systems/PA Wire  NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
“Rent officer 1342 reporting for duty”

Or having “virtual interviews” with holograms to save on travelling to the businesses……? Or will we be sending R2-D2 to our client rather than John Smith……..?

“I am your Housing officer”

Maybe, but I don’t think any of that will lead to the demise of the recruitment industry.

The recruitment market has changed hugely in the 13 years that I have been plying my trade.  We used to fax CVs to clients (remember the fax???), we worked from folders of contacts which you would tippex out people who had moved on (remember the joy of tippex???), and there was one model for the provision of recruitment services.

As a young industry, recruitment has embraced technology and uses it to enhance its offering.  There are now many different RPO’s (Recruitment Process Outsourcing), which aim to provide low cost, high volume solution, often online.  There are companies offering video interview facilities and applicant tracking programmes.  There are literally trillions of online job boards.

Interestingly, I feel that in my sector, Social Housing, many of these “less human” solutions actually create more issues than it solves.  It takes the recruiter one more step away from the end client, which reduces our understanding of the end clients intangible requirements.  And lets face it, has anyone ever valued a blanket e-mail rejection from an applicant tracking system?

Housing is a people business and no algorithm is yet able to be as perceptive as human intuition.

Whilst procurement professionals love RPO’s, as it will inevitably reduce the agency spend, front line recruiting managers often pro-actively seek out their old agency relationships.  In fact, these online solutions have actually helped clients to understand our value.  After the initial joy of having to not deal with recruitment consultants (after the balloons have deflated and the party poppers have been cleared away), many hiring managers notice the drop in quality when direct contact with the recruiter is taken away.  The value of human interaction, understanding the personalities involved, building trust and being accountable comes to the fore.

So the reality is that the value of human perception, judgement, sensitivity and intelligence should always mean that we are a key element in the recruitment process, but we must make sure that we dovetail with technology solutions to ensure constantly improved services.

And if not, then I’ll just have to dig out my new uniform….




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I manage a small Housing recruitment business (www.greenacre-recruitment) covering the Midlands and South West Regions. Outside of that, I'm a dad of 2, a keen rugby supporter (knees don't allow me to play anymore) and cyclist (the knees let me do that!)

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