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I, Robot (Recruiting Edition)

Let’s face it, many of us as Talent Acquisition Pros, (Recruiters) fall in love with shiny new things. Whether it is the latest and greatest ATS, (Applicant Tracking System) the newest “free” feature on LinkedIn, or the latest social media tool, we LOVE shiny new things. So much so, that I find it can cause us, as a profession, to focus too much on our processes, systems and technology (i.e. ways to do things FASTER), to the point that we completely fall in love with them and ignore the basics. We want to automate everything and have our ATS do all the upfront work for us. We continue to feed the technology monster, believing that it is helping us do our jobs better, when in fact it may be having the opposite effect.

Movie_poster_i_robotYou see, as recruiters, we can’t let our environment take over. That is, the technology that we have at our disposal should complement what we do, not BE what we do. We need to make sure that the technology works us and that we don’t work for the technology. Case in point, how many people reading this post absolutely love their ATS? I mean really LOVE it. Hands up. That’s what I thought. How many of you would rather have no ATS than the one you have? Right, so we need to make sure our ATS works for us. None of them are perfect but most are workable – read this great post by Tim Sackett for more on ATS love.

For example, I recently blogged about the hidden nuggets of recruiting that we fail to capitalize on, such as referrals. But here is the thing, how many of us have taken the time to make sure that our ATS actually screens in the right candidates vs. screens them out?   How many of our ATS’s create roadblock or hard stop screen out questions that push candidates out of our system vs. drawing them in?

Here is an example to drive home my point and to show why we need to do a better job of making our tools work for us. Let’s say you have an opening for a Sales Director. Your HR team, in partnership with the hiring manager, has developed a comprehensive job description/performance profile for the role. It is determined that while a university degree would be nice to have, it is not a requirement for this role. The successful candidate needs to be able to demonstrate their proposal writing and presentation abilities by drawing upon their current experience.

This job description/profile is then given to the recruiting team to use in order to make an effective hire. The information is entered into the ATS and the recruiter who has this requisition then begins to communicate the opening internally, looking for referrals, as well as advertising and recruiting externally. Because this recruiter does a good job networking internally, she actually receives several referrals for the role. The candidates are immediately directed to “apply on online” by completing an online application. Of course, no one bothered to check the standard pre-screening questions that the ATS will ask.

Here is the problem, because this company has traditionally required people to have a university degree for all its roles (began as a start up), ALL positions ask the applicant if they have a degree or not. So, what happens? The excited referrals then are either automatically screened out and/or there is no opportunity for them to describe or demonstrate their equivalent or related experience. (Thanks to one of my readers, Christine N. for this great example which I am sure is purely fictitious!).

So, what should we as recruiters be doing? We need to analyze our processes, procedures and technology and make sure they are working for us. Applying some Lean thinking principles here would go a long way to potentially reducing costs and wasted time. Secondly, and probably most importantly, we need to stop working like robots and simply “processing” everything. I have advocated time and time again that the recruiting business is a people business (seems obvious but it isn’t based on the hundreds of horror stories I hear every year.)

As recruiters, we need to find ways to humanize the candidate experience and how we interact with our candidates. In the example above, instead of automatically directing referrals to “apply online,” why isn’t the recruiter making it a point to have a personal discussion with each referral first and THEN have them apply online (as a formality at that point). Candidate referrals should not be handled the same as all other applicants; however, this is another case where we fall into the trap of acting like robots due to the technology at our disposal.

We need to make sure our technology and tools at our disposal are doing for us what they are supposed to be doing. Listen to your candidates and employees. What are they telling you? This two (free) resources are a great place to start when it comes to process improvement. Better yet, have you tried applying for a job at your company recently? How did that work out for you? Did you find you were able to portray an accurate picture of yourself in the online application process?

Finally, and above all else, as recruiters, let’s get back to using the phone more. It helps humanize the entire candidate experience. Not a lot of talent acquisition departments do this anymore, so here is a chance to stand out. If you need any help, just read any of the great articles that Maureen Sharib has written – you won’t be disappointed. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Movie poster i robot” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

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