Your Future as a Recruiter: You Better Know How to Sell, Because Most of What You Do Today Will Be Done By Technology

If you are currently a recruiter and you’re worried about your future … I agree, you should be.

Consider a future as a recruiter where sourcing is gone, and so is resume screening and candidate assessment. All that is left for recruiter to do is related to selling candidates, which unfortunately, is something that most corporate recruiters do not excel at.

This shift is occurring partially because recruiting has been a “soft” field since its inception. But finally, recruiting is beginning to follow the pattern that proved so successful in the past on the business side of the enterprise in areas like CRM, marketing, and sales. Recruiting is now finally beginning the inevitable shift to a hard scientific approach, where database decision-making and software technology will literally take over most of the roles currently held by human recruiters. Current recruiters should be aware of this upcoming obsolescence, because there will soon be data to show that much of what they do will soon be done much better, faster, and cheaper by data-driven algorithms and software.

If you are a recruiter and you are involved in sourcing, resume screening, job matching, candidate assessment, or interviewing, you must realize that those parts of your role will soon become as irrelevant as RadioShack and Kodak. But don’t stop going to recruiter conferences and don’t start studying for your real estate license yet, because there will still be corporate recruiters in the future.  Their primary role will be much different and it will be limited to influencing or selling prospects, candidates, and hiring managers. In other words, selling will become the critical competency for a corporate recruiter, much like it has been for third-party executive search for decades.

Why Much of What Corporate Recruiters Do Today Will Be Replaced by Technology

Don’t be caught by surprise by improvements in software and technology that will make much of what corporate recruiters do today obsolete. The recruiting areas that will become less important and obsolete include:

Sourcing — Why sourcing is rapidly becoming irrelevant

With the growth of the Internet, social media, and the widespread adoption of the mobile phone, it is already becoming surprisingly easy to find literally anyone in the world, from hourly workers to executives. Remember that as our privacy decreases, the ability to find people increases proportionately. With that loss of privacy combined with increasingly more accurate search software and the availability of “big data” databases, the term “hidden talent” will eventually fade away. And because of the growth of social media, your employees, as part of your employee referral effort, will be able to find any talent who the software misses. If you’re good at Boolean searches or cold calling, prepare to be declared redundant.

Matching — Why candidate/job matching will no longer be done by humans

If you are a corporate recruiter and you excel at matching top prospects and candidates to the perfect job, be prepared for that job to be done faster, cheaper, and significantly more accurately by software. Matching software that can match kidney donors with the best recipient is a great illustration about how far matching software has come. Software already in development will accurately match applicants to the “right job,” regardless of which job they actually applied for.

Resume screening — Why software will replace recruiters who scan resumes

Even Google, which for years has used humans to scan its millions of resumes from applicants, has finally gathered data showing that software does a superior job of screening. This emerging screening software field goes well beyond traditional ATS resume keyword screening and uses contextual search and the entire Internet to verify resume information and to find everything there is about your background and skill set.

Candidate assessment — Why software and apps will replace recruiters who have been assessing candidates

If you are a recruiter who has been assessing a candidate’s interest, their fit, or skill level, be prepared to have those duties done by software, apps, or websites. Although online assessment has been around for a while, only recently have the offerings become more accurate and “job related.” Forget the low-value-added personality tests, because now the range of assessments approaches is much broader. It now goes from simple tests, to giving candidates a real problem, to games and contests and finally now with virtual reality simulations. Most assessment will shift to the mobile platform, making them more accessible to potential applicants, candidates, and hiring managers. Adding gamification components will make the assessment more fun for candidates.

Interviewing — Why new technology will make it unnecessary for recruiters to participate in interviewing

Remote live video interviewing have already made it easier to interview at anytime from anywhere. And if these phone app interviews are recorded, there is no need for recruiters to sit in in order to discourage illegal questions. And as more hard data becomes available showing the low predictive value of most traditional interviews, the emphasis will shift away from interviewing of any kind and toward a heavier reliance on online testing and assessment. Taken together, all of this means that recruiters will only occasionally have to be involved in interviewing.

Selling Becomes the Primary Role

The forgotten skills of selling and influencing will become dominant for corporate recruiters – fortunately for recruiters, selling and influencing will become the skill set that can’t be replaced with technology. Most hiring managers, and especially those who hire infrequently, are all too often poor salespeople, so they will continue to rely on recruiters to help them in this critical area. The areas in which selling and influence skills will continue to be critical for corporate recruiters are provided below, with the most important skills listed first.

  • Convincing finalists to accept – obviously nothing really matters if you fail to close your targeted top candidate. In today’s tight job market, candidate closing is already becoming one of the most important recruiter responsibility. Hiring managers simply aren’t good at it, and to make matters worse, they’re not interested in learning more about it. Recruiters will need to use personalized marketing research to identify the “job acceptance criteria” of the targeted finalists and they will have to use their influence to ensure that the hiring manager is flexible enough to meet most of those acceptance criteria.
  • Convincing top not-looking prospects to apply – even though finding top prospects will be easy for your firm, it will also be easy for every other firm. As a result, top prospects who are not in job search mode will be inundated with requests, so it will take a great deal of recruiter skill to even contact them, to build a relationship, and to convince them to actually make an application or to become a referral. Not requiring candidates to supply a resume will help (a LinkedIn profile will be enough to start the process) but recruiters will have to be persuasive if they expect these in demand candidates who are not even looking for a job to find the time to apply.
  • Convincing top candidates to stay until the end of the hiring process– in-demand candidates seldom make it to the end of any painful or drawn-out hiring process. So if corporations continue to tolerate slow hiring processes and bad candidate experiences, it will be up to recruiters to coach and convince top candidates to remain in the hiring process until the very end.
  • Influencing managers to focus on recruiting — even with all the technology improvements, hiring managers will still likely be reluctant to devote a lot of their time to recruiting and interviewing. So it will remain the recruiter’s job to develop ways to successfully influence hiring managers to adhere to the hiring process and to make data-based decisions fast.
  • Market research to understand the prospects who you are trying to sell – you simply won’t be able to sell in-demand prospects if you don’t know where they will see a recruiting message or if you don’t know precisely what must be in that message in order to garner their interest. Therefore it is critical for recruiters to be able to conduct market research or to apply the market research done by others, in order to do an effective job of reaching and selling top prospects who are not actively looking for a job and candidates that applied at your firm.
  • Selling prospects on the company through viral employer branding— candidates today rely on the employer for only 20 percent of the information that they gather when looking to apply for roles (CEB, 2014). So with so many other authentic sources being used, it will be more difficult to control and manage your employer brand image. Recruiters will be able to make a contribution by encouraging employees to say positive things about the firm on the Internet and in social media.

Final Thoughts

Many recruiters are similar to HR people, they simply don’t like hearing about change, and they certainly don’t want to change themselves. But the fact is that enough data-driven technologists have recently taken interest in the recruiting process to the point where real progress is being made. Unfortunately for recruiters, that means the end to most sourcing, screening, job matching, and candidate assessment. So if you expect to be a recruiter for a long time, the time is now to place your learning emphasis on how to sell. Unfortunately, if you look at most recruiting conferences and publications, you won’t find a single mention of the “how-tos” of selling in the recruiting space.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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