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The digital age pushed many of us to believe that technology would solve everything. By taking over rudimentary tasks and automating others, tech developments would free up our time to focus on higher priorities—and maybe even cut our workweeks in half.
While tech has indeed made our lives easier, it’s also made them more complicated. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the recruiting arena.
"Technology may have not solved everything, but it has eliminated some of recruiters’ most time-consuming tasks and biggest distractions"
A recent Monster recruiting survey found that two-thirds of recruiters feel their jobs have become more difficult in recent years. Nearly the same number—62 percent—struggle to find qualified candidates.
In a field that depends on both efficiency and a human touch, technology has given as much work as it’s taken. Tech tools can filter candidates to eliminate large chunks of time spent assessing basic qualifications, but their influence stops there: They can’t determine which candidate’s personality or individual motivations will best align with the job.
That’s where marketing—the human touch—comes into play.
Marketing Doesn’t Just Sell Products
Recruiters now get in front of candidates the same way large consumer brands position themselves to customers. They gather data on their customers, weave a compelling story to sell what they have to offer, and focus on the customer experience throughout the process. Automation and analytics help crystallize the impressions they have of their target audience, so they can effectively woo.
Monster’s survey, in fact, found that 67 percent of recruiters feel they have to be savvy about analytics to succeed. The same percentage indicated they felt they needed to be marketers. Without the right tools, however, these recruiting experts will never feel their marketing or analytics skills are up to par.
The recruiting industry is playing catch-up to companies like Amazon, Facebook, and YouTube. These brands are already collecting highly detailed metadata on every customer, enabling them to deliver oddly relevant content and products to each one. While recruiters historically relied on résumés—age-old marketing documents designed to paint an intriguing picture of a candidate—it’s becoming apparent that more sophisticated approaches like chatbots, voicebots, gamification, and next-gen résumés may create better connections with a wider variety of people. That, in turn, increases the likelihood of attracting quality candidates.
The data collected by these tools and platforms would enable recruiters to personalize the experiences they offer candidates. That immediately sets up opportunities for deeper and more meaningful interactions, helping both sides get the outcome they want: a successful long-term relationship.
A Lack of Data Holds Relationships Back
We don’t yet live in this brave new world because candidates and recruiters don’t have the information they need to assess the very human aspects of matching a person with a role. These include culture fit, managers and co-workers, professional development, and candidate goals—things that are critical to long-term happiness, but difficult to capture with numbers or graphs.
And, data can fail to provide context as well. What can data tell recruiters about a long time teacher who’s now interested in transitioning his people skills to sales? What barriers will applicant tracking systems put up to block a less experienced candidate who’s a better culture fit? Data wants to box people in and categorize them, but recruiting systems must be built to allow people to follow their human impulses.
Technology can do whatever we want—we determine how it develops. We once felt our search results were too broad, so we pushed for semantic search. Technology developed an understanding of our intent through our language, but we took it too far.It became consumed by keywords—shorthand for certain motivations—rather than the curiosities than push people to type those words in the first place.
That’s important to recognize in an era when we’re shifting away from pulling in as many applications as possible. With the unemployment rate at a 30-year low, recruiters who want to attract the right candidates in a highly competitive field have to be able to hone in on them quickly—and get a similar amount of focus in return.
Storytelling Brings People Together
Humans are moved and fueled by stories. A very real advantage of understanding an audience better through data is having a clearer sense of the stories that would be meaningful to them. In a “buyer’s market” where candidates have a lot of sway, adopting the wrong tone or perspective can be the difference between locking in a candidate destined to do great things or settling for someone who can merely do the work.
Like marketers, recruiters must ask themselves what story they want to tell about their brand. What’s our mission? What are our values? What culture do we want to build? What do we hope to achieve together? These factors—a company’s “employer value proposition”—help both internal and external customers feel a connection to the company’s vision or self-select out.
An intriguing, tech-driven way to tell these stories is through video. Video can capture the humanity and multifaceted dimensions of an organization or a role far better than a job description ever could. Prospective applicants can immediately get a sense of the company culture, identifying how the team works or even how their future manager communicates. That explains why text job ads get a little more than 90 seconds of candidates’ time while video job ads earn four minutes.
Not even one percent of the Fortune 500 is utilizing video in their recruitment marketing, according to SmashFly’s 2018 Recruitment Marketing Benchmarks Report. Video, however, now makes up 74 percent of online traffic, signaling just how pervasive—and important—the format has become.
Technology may have not solved everything, but it has eliminated some of recruiters’ most time-consuming tasks and biggest distractions. By taking these elements out of the equation, recruiters can transition into marketing roles and focus on establishing strong connections. While tech may not have been recruiting’s savior, it may have just enabled recruiters to become more human.