Recruitment board_0Original article by Greg Savage: Candidates are not Online Commodity

Every now and then, technology is changing and influencing almost every form of industry. This includes the media, music, the arts industry. Of course, there is also the arrival of a myriad of online recruiting offerings. Each of which is claiming to be the beginning of the end for traditional recruitment. But, what does reality tell us?

Candidates are not an online commodity. However, some people would have you believe that they are an online commodity. Examples of them are online recruiters such as LinkedIn, Freelancer.com and the like. While it is true and possible to identify talent through digital means, one important fact remains: Actually recruiting someone you have ‘found’ is a whole different matter. It excites a feeling of romance and seduction. It is where you can personally observe and converse with a potential employee. Thus, it can be said that magic starts when actual recruitment happens.

Technology will never replace recruitment. Technology has indeed changed the world of inline recruitment. Starting from talent identification and sourcing function, the screening up until the interviewing function. One thing is for sure, technology changes the mode of service delivery for third party recruiters.

Consider the following comparisons and think whether they are logical or not.

  • Securing the best candidate is not the same as buying a movie ticket on the Internet. Recruitment does not work in this way. It is not like Amazon or iTunes or any of the sales channels that you find online.
  • You can buy a dress online because a dress does not say, “no I don’t want to go with this new buyer”. But a candidate does.

Humans as they are, candidates have their own opinions, options, alternatives and decisions. They might be unpredictable and emotional. Candidates are not like the books bought in Amazon, they will not want to discuss with their wives whether it should go to the new buyer or not. Moreover, the recruitment process is always a human endeavour and relies on uniquely human skills. Of course, much depends on the type of employee the recruitment professional, consultative recruiters want to hire to their company.

It is then very much possible for search technologies to become so sophisticated, so pervasive and cheap, that everyone will gain access to them. The whole procedure of tracking and finding candidates on the web will become easier, not harder. It is happening right now. Online company recruiters such as TalentBin, Dice OpenWeb and Entelo and others, have been designing and building very clever sourcing engines to meet the sourcing demand especially for rare talents and skills. These are far more sophisticated tools than anything the average agency recruiter has access to.

The entire thing looks like a paradox but it is just actually where the process breaks into two very separate functions.

Candidate identification will get easier and easier whereas candidate recruiting and hiring will get harder and harder. What now differentiates online recruitment from actual recruitment? It is this: Building relationships and managing the process via highly developed skills in the craft of recruitment.

Yes, the very best technology is critical to the recruiting success. In addition, the craft of recruitment can also create a difference. Craft pertains to the nuanced skills like persuading, prepping, negotiating, finessing, listening, negotiating, understanding, and managing both the client and the candidate. These things will still have a great value and will increase as technology advances.

Take for example the idea behind ‘counter-offers’. As the economy improves and the inevitable skill-shortages really bite, top talent will know their value. That means to say that every offer you will get might be subjected to a counter-offer by another employer. This is just a prediction, every offer or at least 9 out of 10. Some recruiters have no idea how to predict, prevent and manage a counter-offer situation. It’s a subtle skill that only a great recruiter can finesse. This is where the sweet spot lies for the agency recruiter, when you can give your clients something your clients cannot get themselves. Have you ever thought if LinkedIn or Seek or Freelancer.com or any other technology platform will provide these subtle human skills, wrapped up in the craft of recruitment? Probably not.

The diagram below shows the future if recruiting. It is where technology meets the craft of recruitment.

recruitment_graph The future of recruiting is where technology meets the craft of recruitment

Still, reality tells that technology has disconnected the recruiter from the client and the candidate. The recruiter often hides behind the technology making him more remote from where he can actually have an impact. Things are being pushed aside, being made less relevant everyday and people are allowing it to happen by dumping down the process. Technology is used when personal interaction should be.

Allowing clients to send job specifications electronically, emailing a shortlist to the client with no verbal commentary or insights added, long emails to candidates about the job and why they should take it: Where is the ability to create an impact and to build outcomes? These show that the work many recruiters do amount to little more than key word matching. They are not sophisticated in technology use, in social media, in talent acquisition or even in the old school skills of the craft of recruitment. These recruiters are stuck in no-man’s land. Not technologically strong, and not strong on true consulting skills.

It is but of great importance to build a business model that uses technology and at the same time human skills to connect recruiters to both clients and candidate. Therefore, it is best to build a business model which operates in complete opposition to transactional recruiting. Leave that to the big scale, low margin players, or the online solutions that add zero value. The wiser way to pursue is to build a model that works on exclusivity, retainers, commitment and partnership.

This is not new. In fact it is as old as recruitment itself. The problem happened when people have lost the ability to sell it. The suggestions above may sound difficult but the truth is the ‘easy road” of multi-listed, contingent, resume racing, ambulance-chasing, transactional, dog-eat-dog, trench warfare recruitment, is in fact going to be more than ‘difficult’. Yes, it’s going to be terminal.

Truly, the future of recruitment is where highly sophisticated technology meets highly tailored and influential human interaction. It is the point where art marries science. It is where work turns into money.

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