Automation is the game-changing innovation within recruitment. Yet for all its distinct benefits can it ever replace human relationships in this most intrinsically human endeavour?

From day one great recruiters have adapted their practices to leverage every advantage that automation has offered.  Seek and then LinkedIn were two great disruptors that would ‘spell the end of the recruitment industry’ and instead became the sharpest tools in a recruiter’s kit. Knowing how to add value to these innovations has created a better breed of recruiters, and the industry as a whole has benefited.

The same will undoubtedly prove true with Google and Facebook’s forays. Both have announced the development of their jobs-specific APIs. However the story unfolding here suggests the threat is posed to LinkedIn, which implies all these tech platforms understand their role as tools for professional recruiters.

“Technology is making relationships easier to find, build and maintain. That is the future of recruiting, helping your entire organisation build, optimise, engage, track and leverage relationships.” The Future of Recruiting and Hiring Technology

Automation has streamlined many labour-intensive processes. But it’s still the insights, networks, and relationships forged over time by human engagement that cannot be replicated by Artificial Intelligence and its progeny, automation. As we know, relationships develop through Emotional Intelligence, and there is no artifice for that.

The value-add

Like recruiters, their clients and candidates also appreciate automation when it adds value. It’s interesting to note that it’s the clients who consistently perform well on the Corporate Reputation Index that define value in terms of its people and culture, not its systems.

You can throw all the handy tech at the recruitment process you like, but it’s the personal and professional conversations, often had over decades, that provides clients with strategies that deliver the right people to their door; before a need to advertise ever arises.

On the flipside, it’s the recruiter’s relationship with a candidate that guides negotiations and decisions around an appropriate placement. These outcomes can’t be replicated by automation because the behaviours that create them are indispensably human.

In an era where we can all feel a little like ones and zeroes, the value we place on human engagement is at a premium. It’s the confidence inspired from a track record of results from someone invested in your growth, combined with the trust earned by someone who understands the nuances of cultural fit that makes the complete automation in recruitment not only unlikely but undesirable.

The benefits of automation

From sourcing potential candidates to auto-reference checking, salary checking, skills, and aptitude testing, to video interviews and phone call assessments, automated recruitment can save time and money, and can reflect well on the hiring company’s image when done right.

It also satisfies today’s expectations, allowing for auto-scheduling and auto-responding to applicants throughout the process. Virtual reality tools mean you don’t need to imagine yourself on the job, you can experience it firsthand. And if you can craft your online persona to suit the search protocols of an AI-powered algorithm, you’ll fare well.

The future of automation in recruiting places procedural control in candidates’ hands and helps companies present themselves favourably. It liberates overwhelmed, biased, or inefficient managers with speed and (pre-defined) levels of accuracy in high volume recruitment scenarios.

It’s often said that the level of automation needed will vary dependent on the industry, type, and volume of roles. In other words, automation can save time and money but only to a point. If you don’t understand where to draw the line it will start costing you.

“A cheap approach to hiring that leads to poor hires is one of the worst decisions one could possibly make given all the possible costs associated with making a bad hire and all the benefits of good hires.” Peter Capelli, Harvard Business Review

Automation and its limits

Can automation understand you’re having an off day? Can it look you in the eye and just know it, or hear your voice and sense it?

Automation has no gut instinct; it can’t see the hidden potential and it’s blind to the outlier. It can’t nurture a culture. It can’t build rapport. It’ll never meet your kids and it will never understand what’s important to you. It can’t partner with you nor stick with you when times get tough, and it will never celebrate your wins.

Automation is never going to persuade you to dig deeper, aim higher and take the leap with you.

What sort of automation have you come to depend on in your business?

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