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Automation vs Augmentation in Recruitment

We recently wrote an article for People Power 2020, an event we’re headline sponsors of, surrounding the impact of technology and the fourth industrial revolution on both people and business. It focused on the need for both individuals and businesses to commit to learning in order to embrace the augmentation potential of technology on work tasks, or face the automation of them. Reading that article really got me thinking about how that will look in recruitment…

Recruitment is, in its base form, a distinctly human process. At least when it’s done properly, and by good recruiters.

I’ll start with a brutal, but universal truth – transactional recruiters WILL be replaced by machines which automate their activity. They just don’t offer enough value to hiring managers/businesses to survive, as technology becomes both more capable and cost-effective. By transactional, I mean matching active candidates to open job requisitions. Technology can find active candidates on job boards, your CV Library ‘watchdog’ does it. Recruiters who post a job ‘advert’ on a job board, receive tens or hundreds of applications overnight and then send a ‘shortlist’ of 15-20 CVs to the hiring manager aren’t worth the invoice they want to charge, even if it’s a flat fee of £1,000 (or £300 as I read last week).

So, now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can focus on those who remain.

As I said above, recruitment is a distinctly human process. The act of finding people who match a job specification can be done by machines. Understanding those people, their ambitions and motivators, explaining why this vacancy will help realise those goals and convincing a few of those people to talk further can only be done by humans. In support of that, there’s a great article by the pre-eminent Greg Savage on some recruiters being history whilst others will thrive which you should definitely read. Once you’ve finished up here of course.

The following are just some of the uniquely human tasks requiring human thought and input. There are certainly many more:

· Assessing a PERSON, not the keywords on a CV, against a job spec

· Considering team and culture fit

· Selling the idea of the candidate to the hiring manager

· Managing relationships with both candidates and clients

· Negotiating, lots and lots of negotiating

Crucially, and in summary, technology will have a profound impact on recruitment, of that there can be no doubt. Whether that impact is positive or negative relies entirely on the recruiter and their employer. The good ones will embrace technology and allow it to do what it’s best at, the black & white activity of CV sourcing and parsing mainly. That way, more time can be spent on the really important human activities that mean they’ll survive the fourth industrial revolution whilst the transactional recruiters look for alternative desks to work or different career paths to wander down.

Technology then, can certainly augment the activity and performance of great recruiters and recruitment agencies, as long as – as we said in the original article – there’s a commitment to learning to use and embrace its potential.

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