Part II - Virtual Recruiting Makes a User-Driven Recruitment Process Inevitable

Inevitably, the convergence of artificial intelligence, automation, design thinking, remote work, changing attitudes toward work, and the move to more agile organizations will require a complete revamp of how we recruit.

We have seen the rise of tools that augment the recruitment process over the past decade.  By augment I mean tools that still require human involvement and judgment but improve speed, provide better quality candidates, and reduce the workload of recruiters.

As these tools evolve and become more sophisticated and capable, they will have the intelligence to recommend candidates that meet requirements without recruiter involvement. We may be 5-10 years away from that capability, but the trend is clear.

I have previously published the diagram below that outlines a simplified but typical recruitment process flow and the available tools to augment or automate each step.

Most medium to large organizations have added some of these tools to their process, but their selection, integration, and use is haphazard. They rarely increase efficiency or speed because recruiters are unfamiliar with how to use them, or they are poorly integrated into the workflow.  While design thinking has helped uncover areas for improvement, the implementation of the recommendations has been hard to achieve.  Implementing technology is an evolution and takes time, learning, and a deep understanding of the goals you want to achieve.

The process of making technology a real partner to success requires understanding how the workload flows, where data is coming from and where it is going, a seamless integration between each, and a well-designed user interface. Last week I wrote about the six stages that recruitment must pass through to eventually achieve this seamless and user-friendly candidate and hiring manager experience. Each stage is a step toward full automation. Below I explain each of these stages in detail.

Stage 1 – No Significant Technology

This is where many recruiting functions are. They most likely have an applicant tracking system (ATS) used to store and retrieve resumes and generate reports.  It does little to speed up the recruiting process and may slow it down because of data entry and other administrative tasks.  It is useful for creating reports to meet government requirements.

Recruiters often use spreadsheets to track requisitions, and there is a lot of email and paperwork.  Data is not gathered in any systematic way, and collecting data takes time just to get the simple metrics that are reported monthly or quarterly.  Nothing is in real-time or readily available.

Recruiters spend time searching for candidates using the Internet, the career site, or job boards manually, schedule and conduct interviews in person, and interface with the hiring managers and perhaps HR and compensation.  Each hire is time-consuming and highly administrative.

Stage 2 – Haphazard Use of Technology

These recruiting functions have a few tools that help them automate some processes. But the choice of tools is haphazard, with no real plan or overall vision. There has been very little research into what tools are available, their capabilities, or how they integrate with other tools. And there is little budget or time available for research or testing.

Typically, these functions may have a sourcing tool, perhaps some technology to pre-screen candidates, and a candidate relationship management (CRM) tool to communicate with candidates.  The career site may have some interactivity to screen candidates. The function may have invested in a video interviewing tool and may have a way for candidates to schedule interviews online.

Technology is often more of a time sink than a help, and recruiters do most things manually. But there is no integration between the output of the tools and the next steps in the process. This requires recruiters to jump from tools to manual processes over and over.

Stage 3 – Emerging

At this stage, the function has a vision for where it wants to go with technology and may have a timeline and an implementation plan.  But only a small amount of effort has been put into streamlining or redesigning the recruiting process to accommodate technology.

Recruiters are slowly adopting new tools but are not well-trained on how to use them. And the tools may not always be the right ones or used appropriately.  Recruiters do not trust the tools and often revert to manual processes. There may be a screening tool, for example, but recruiters still do manual screening.

At this stage, there is interest and desire to achieve more with technology, but the knowledge, skills, budgets, and time are not available.

Stage 4 – Ordered

The recruiting process is making significant progress in simplifying what they do and in eliminating unnecessary steps. They have decided which tools they will use and have sequenced them for effectiveness. There is a logical progression of tools, with the output of one feeding into the next one as appropriate. For example, screening leads to candidate rejection or to passing the candidate on to an assessment tool or to another opportunity that better matches their skills. . Assessment leads to an automatic interview, and so on. The tools augment the recruiters who only occasionally need to provide input.

Recruiters are trained and comfortable using the technology and regard it as a helpful adjunct to what they do.  The tools improve their productivity and reduce workload, but many steps are still manual. Many areas remain manual and require recruiter time and effort.

Stage 5 – Integrated

The function is mainly automated.  Each step in the recruitment process is automated, and processes are well thought out, and the work flows smoothly from tool to tool with very little need for a recruiter’s involvement.  The tools are completely integrated with the HRIS system, and data is collected and analyzed in real-time.

Candidates and hiring managers have infrequent contact with a live recruiter because the process and tools provide feedback and answer questions. If the technology cannot handle a question or an issue arises, a recruiter helps.  The recruiters become advisors and consultants to the candidates and hiring managers.

Stage 6 – Candidate/Manager-Driven

This is an entirely automated and seamless stage. Completely automating the recruiting process may seem pie-in-the-sky, and I admit that we may never see it achieved (and may not even desire such a thing).  But it is helpful to imagine what it could look like. Without a vision, it is hard to achieve any progress.

In Stage six the user interface has been carefully designed to give hiring managers and candidates a positive and easy-to-use experience. A hiring manager can access the tools she needs quickly from a computer, tablet, or phone.  She can easily indicate the skills and other requirements needed and choose (or be guided to choose) what type of worker would best fit this need. The workers could be full-time, part-time, a contractor with a fixed timeframe, or a consultant. 

She would then be presented with a slate of potential hires from a global talent ecosystem. She could get in touch with any selected candidate by email, text, social media, or telephone. The position can be presented to the candidate in a variety of ways designed to match his most probable preferred style. Interviews and skills assessments could be automated or eliminated, as she desires.  She would be guided through salary and other negotiations by a chatbot, or she could speak directly with a candidate.   The process would allow great flexibility and provide whatever assistance either the hiring manager or the candidate needed.

Likewise, a candidate could express interest in a project or a position. He could vet the hiring managers and the company by asking for the data on previous hires at this company and by this manager, their satisfaction, and tenure.

The software would provide an engaging, easy-to-use, and flexible interface for the hiring manager and the candidate.

What’s Left for Recruiters?

The few remaining recruiters would have new roles and skills. They would use analytics to improve the software and the interface, advise and consult with candidates and hiring managers, conduct exit interviews, work with new university graduates, and manage RPO or vendor partners. There would still be a need for consultation with senior leaders and perhaps even the occasional need to recruit someone in person.

Final Thoughts

Whether or not an organization achieves Stage 6, the evolution and learning on the path toward it would be revolutionary. Technology will play a significant role in the future of all processes and implemented well would make the experience of finding work far easier and more pleasant than it is with today’s archaic systems.

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