Has technology made us better at recruitment…?

In the years of technology advancement from written applications and newspaper adverts to our present integrated socially aware and sharing society with ATS analytics it’s easy to believe that technological leaps have made us more successful in delivering the people that organisations want.

But if we both dig a little deeper, those massive shifts it what our technology can do have changed very little in the biological behaviour of us as candidates, employers or humans.  Our basic needs have hardly changed at all.  If anything that basic need to belong has been made worse by the technology, to be a part of it, whatever it is.  Our need to belong manifests itself to in out need to tell people we are doing well, that we are doing what was expected and here’s the spreadsheet to prove it…

How we recruit, how we do business is still tied to how performance is measured.  Typically we have a budget to spend and a target to achieve.  The budget helps us to find candidates, sell our services to clients or pay for more advertising/branding/next thing.

We put technology in place to measure our output, decide whether we are in or or out with rewards based on those results.  If the advertising you did made more placements than the month, quarter or year before then you are in, the rewards are yours.  But more and more if the only way you fill more roles or make more placements is to spend more money each time then you’re going to have to keep spending money to stand still.  Some agencies live and breath this model continuing to spend more to get more.

The challenge I face in what I am about to say is that I can’t prove it.  My theory is that whilst this approach will keep many businesses and agencies afloat it cannot be a sustainable strategy.  It is fundamentally flawed.

There is no shortcut to mattering to your candidates yet it’s incredibly tough to convince your business to take a long term view.  We struggle when we go to our bosses to suggest slow incremental growth for the long term.  We are still dominated by short-term results.  We still look at the daily metrics as proof that you’ve done your job.

This creates a certain type of behaviour especially in recruitment.  We work hard but we work hardest of all to look for something to measure, something to share, something to show we belong.  We look for quick wins and easy targets, which reinforce the notion that we’re doing our job.

Sometimes we just end up measuring the wrong things, and in doing so, we subconsciously demonstrate to the people we should be serving that we’re not in it for the long haul.  Those ‘in it for the long haul’ recruitment teams and organisations are there I am sure but I can’t see them.

It feels like there are tech companies out there who are leading the way by building values based business, that they are finding ways to delight and get closer to their customers and it is that closeness that is the shortcut to success.

Why isn’t the recruitment business doing the same?

Swap customer for candidate, how might we get closer to them, demonstrating we are well placed to help them, demonstrating that we care… Demonstrating that behind transaction of recruitment we will be here in the future and have made a connection with you…

What if we optimised our businesses, our organisations and our cultures putting relationships first and results second? Focus less on creating awareness and more on generating trust?

What if we traded quick wins for loyalty?

What if stopped the focus on our dashboards and analytics and connected with our candidates?

What might the real gains be then?

I have a background in executive search and selection, headhunting and senior level recruitment combined with people and business management experiences. My focus has always been on the IT services, technology and management consultancy sectors on a permanent and interim basis where I have developed a personal portfolio that covers areas such as EVP, social recruitment and the successful creation of talent pools as well the management and leadership of corporate talent acquisition teams.

Currently working across Europe with high growth, high tech organisations to develop effective blended onshore/offshore recruitment models, covering full commercial engagement, transition and ongoing delivery management.

I am an avid blogger, writer, public speaker and traveller of trains across the UK.

Follow me on twitter @MDangerfield or find me on Linkedin.