The Human Touch

The Human Touch

At a time of technological revolution where Apps and Bots are going to take over lots of our jobs I ask – can technology really improve the level of candidate customer service in recruitment that we aspire to? I loved the pithy assessment of Dave Trott in Campaign last week (Sept 10th) on Customer Service – that ‘82% of customers switch providers because of a bad service experience; that 55% of recommendations are made on customer service not on product or price’. So ‘in times where we are trying to automate everything because its faster and cheaper’ are we surprised that ATS (applicant tracking systems) that are meant to make recruiters’ (company and recruitment consultants) lives easier actually make the applicant’s experience worse.

It’s now more difficult than ever to get on a shortlist for a job. Applicants consistently tell us they get ruled out of a selection process (by technology) rather than ruled in.

At the very first stage of a job application process how confident are we that technology can accurately assess the core skills and aptitude of an individual as well as their drivers in life, their aspirations, their ambitions? How do we know that some of the diverse talent we are struggling to hire into our businesses are not the very individuals that technology rules out at the first hurdle.

In the quest to work faster and faster and get results more and more quickly, have we stopped to think what we are losing – the expertise and insight that an experienced and insightful human being can bring to the matching process of individual to job and company.

Where is the hard data that justifies leaving the initial screening and selection to the ATS’s that sit behind the job boards, the online communities and websites that aggregate talent, the recruitment agencies that farm CV’s without any face-to-face meetings with their candidates, the in-house talent teams that are so often ridiculously stretched, managing 25 – 30 vacancies at a time. Do the candidates that get through the ATS’s stay longer with the company, do they fit the culture better, do they contribute more. Are they better at the job?

With over three decades of experience in recruitment and search we have always met our candidates face to face. Over the years, each person we have placed has had our personal time. Crucial time during which we can understand an individual’s skills set and experience as well as their personal values and aspirations for their future careers. And guess what; many of these candidates stay for years with the companies we place them with. We have the evidence; the data.

A youngster tells us that he urgently needed to get a job – he was put forward for a permanent role with a company by a recruitment consultancy. The recruiter hadn’t met him. Their CRM system, helped by Bots, had done the matching and the recruiter hadn’t made the time to meet him. He went for the interview but the job wasn’t aligned to the skills he wanted to use in his next role – it was aligned to the skills he had on his cv – the ones he had used in his last job – not aligned to the next job that would allow him to develop his skills and learn new ones. The culture and ambition of the company was all wrong for him. There had been no face-to-face competency-based interview with the recruiter, no checking of credentials, no real matching or alignment of ambition and long term career motivation.

Don’t get me wrong – the speed of connectivity can be good.

A senior PR freelancer tells me about the 3 month contract gig with a reputable company through a recruitment advertising community website. It seems a really smart service. It charges the candidate and the client an introduction (sorry, an administration) fee if they agree to work with each other – 15% of the daily rate to both: so 30% in total – yes, it’s expensive! The value the website gives to a company is clearly the speed of connectivity to an online community of people with the right experience and skill-set for their needs. Same for the freelancer – it connects them with companies that need their skills. It’s a great business model. If it really works. No one at the recruiter website has ever interviewed or met the freelancer. The freelancer simply uploads their profile and examples of their work. The information uploaded is only as accurate as the person uploading it wants it to be, as with all online talent sites including Linked In. So as with all online profiles – who is doing the checking?

This Summer we have had nearly double the number of candidates wanting face to face interviews with us. These people want us to represent them to companies – many are fed up with company vacancy application processes. They are tired of working through ATS’s where they can’t even get a first meeting with a company they want to work for; often a company they are a customer of.

So maybe in Dave Trott’s words – ‘let’s stop cranking out as much as we can, as fast as we can and charging as much as we can, that may work in the short term. Let’s focus on the customer that actually needs someone who can do a decent job’.

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