Ask Alex

The Year of the Enlightened Recruiter

By in Ask Alex

Taking a step back from the touchscreens and towards a personal touch 

In 2020, finding the best method for identifying and onboarding superior job candidates continues to be an evolving science. Top recruiters have come to the conclusion that too much of the decision-making process has been delegated to algorithms and other forms of tech, and that financial firms, who inherently place a lot of trust in numbers and cold math, are actually losing out on some great candidates because of it. While the recruiting world is everchanging, this is one trend that comes as no surprise.

The year 2020 will be the year of the enlightened recruiter, taking a step back from high-tech solutions and turning to reliable, face-to-face contact with an emphasis on candidates’ soft skills.

What’s prompted the change?

It’s simple. While social media does a great job of bridging the gap between recruiter-and-applicant or recruiter-and-client, there really is no comparing it to phone calls or in-person meetings. With such a life-changing decision, whether it’s where you will be working in the future or who will potentially be joining your workplace– 160 characters just won’t cut it.

Emails and text are too informal and inadequate for communication, other than to set up IRL interactions.  So much gets “lost in translation” when too much communication is done by text and email, and yet I still get applicants who just want to send in a resume and be done. Written words can lack nuance and be easily misinterpreted. Whereas in a conversation, miscommunication can be cleared up immediately, questions can be immediately answered, and a genuine relationship forged. 

In a nutshell, what we’ve rediscovered is how valuable a part face-to-face communication is to the recruiting process and that we need to do much more of it.

This isn’t to say technology has been a bad thing for recruiters.

For sure, software-assisted keyword searches have lightened the load and made screening resumes both less onerous and less time-consuming. But it hasn’t taken job hunters long to become adept at seeding their CVs with the industry-specific keywords that got them past “the gatekeeper.”  LinkedIn, job sites like The Ladder, and basic search engines have all contributed to a market where virtually anyone can apply for anything and pretend to be qualified.

What’s happened is the algorithms are letting through a lot of weak recruits.  And we all know, placing the wrong person in a business-critical position can be disastrous in the short term and very expensive to rectify in the long term. This is why the recruiter, trained in identifying the right candidates for the right positions is still a critical part of the process. And how important personal communications are to accurately understand an applicant.

Of course, relying on traditional interviewing protocols can be a bit of a challenge. Millennial age and younger candidates have grown up communicating via short texts and media posts. In my experience, they don’t readily engage during a phone or in-person conversation. But that needs to stop.  I’ve become entirely convinced that a verbal interview, whether live or on the phone, is one of the only ways to determine a good fit, no matter what an AI program has concluded.

Even the recruits miss the personal touch.

Recruits have expressed that they value a shorter recruitment timeline, more transparency during the process, and more personalized experience while being evaluated for a position.

What I’m hearing from them is a loss of communicability during the hiring process – and frustration that they can’t clearly demonstrate their skills and abilities because technology is dictating so much of the pre-game.

So, what can we expect in the New Year?  2020 rings in one of the most complicated hiring environments we’ve ever seen. And contrary to popular belief, the job can’t just be left to apps and algorithms. It surprises me how many firms still think they can just whip-up a senior VP using a software platform.

Identifying and courting the top-performing candidates is a science, best left to professionals who make it their job to study the changing recruitment market every day.

The top recruiters understand the menu of different ways to communicate with strong candidates, using the right mix of technology and traditional soft skills, to unveil those elusive indicators that determine whether the prospect is a good fit for the position and your company’s culture as a whole. It’s a skill too important to leave up to numerology and chance.