Recruiters, Automation & the Misconceptions about ‘Being Human’.

Written by Steve Ward

Steve Ward is generally regarded as one of the original practising Social Recruiters, having run his agency CloudNine as a fire-starter in the space. Now; as well as being Head of Agency Solutions for Candidate.ID; Steve is a Talent Attraction & Social Recruiting Strategist; working interim to help businesses understand how to be a magnet for the best talent.

As we venture deeper into an automation age in recruiting, the fightback will always be; “But we must remain human”. Sure, but as has been discussed many times, actually as humans – we are not particularly effective at volume tasks such as sourcing, applicant response, content marketing, email marketing and process.

The human argument is generally paddled by those who don’t spend a lot of time recruiting anymore, or those who are stuck to the age-old “get on the phone” principle, and the admirable quest for a utopian recruitment world where candidates are happy with their recruiter engagement at all times, on all platforms and never would you hear them complain or gripe; because hey – at least it was a human who ignored them in the application process, and a human that inappropriately contacted them in a channel they considered personal, and a human that keeps spamming them with job offers when they are plainly not in the market. Hmm, right… does it really work like that, …does it?

Yeah. You see humans are inefficient – because, as a wise young bearded man with a gravelly voice regularly decorated our radio waves with, we are after all “…only human”.

Yup, *Only* Human. There’s nothing wrong with that. We’ve been human for years – billions of them in fact – and even now, we are the most informed humans we have ever been, but we still remain ineffective at more tasks than we are effective at. We tire, we get bored, we get distracted, we make mistakes, we make emotional judgments, we leave the toilet seat up and we burn the toast. We’re pretty good at fucking things up.

But on the flip side, we also need to be aware of where we are strongest and allow the age of automation and machine-learning start to deal with volume tasks – so that we can better at what we are brilliant at when it comes to active candidate to active job engagement. Automate cold sourcing, automate scheduling, automate marketing, automate talent pipelines, automate response mechanism, automate first contact enquiries.

“But, but… but… we’re HUMAN?!” I hear you utter in a “shit dude, where’s my job?” induced riposte.

Yes. Yes, we are. And we all expect to be treated better.

Better than what, though? Better than we have been already? Better than the years of experiences offered by human recruiters that drove the industry to a reputation meltdown and created social media memes and hashtags that slaughter the average joe recruiter all over the world?

Yeah, I thought so. This human malarkey ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

You see – this is where we recruitment types get the ‘human’ thing so terribly wrong. We are so damn egotistical, we focus it all on ourselves. WE must be human, WE must make first contact, WE are people-people, etc. But what value is all of our human attributes, if we cannot deliver a service that makes CANDIDATES feel human.

Research shows that customers, candidates, whatever we want to term our audiences; don’t mind *how* they get response, they just want a response. Candidates don’t mind being contacted about a role, if it’s relevant, timely, and on the right platform of their choosing or common preference. Candidates don’t mind chatting to a chat-bot, if it gives them a real-time experience. Candidates don’t mind an email, if it’s relevant, what they need and informs or presents value.

The goal is to make candidates feel human. They wish to be noticed, acknowledged, fed and given insights. And they want to feel embraced. Human’s give amazing embraces in the flesh – but can only do one at a time, and generally in small rooms. Your ATS isn’t a small room, your talent pipeline is not a small room, and your first line enquiries are often very much not a small room.

So come on recruiters. Get candidate focused first, and what they need in relation to consistent and programmed communication, and in turn understand when human engagement is at its best – but we can only do the real best, when we are relieved of all the bits where we are not so terrific.

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