Technology vs. Tenure: what matters most in recruitment?

Matthew Wilcox our consultant managing the role

It’s no exaggeration to say that the role of the recruiter has changed significantly over the past 30 years. From using rolodexes and index cards to sourcing passive candidates via LinkedIn, the invention of the Internet has transformed the way in which we source candidates, connecting people from all over the world and bringing us closer than ever before.

What does this mean for the recruitment industry? - In a sector where 80% of executives believe that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help improve productivity and performance, recruiters need to adapt to the changing marketplace to continue sourcing candidates for the best jobs. However, will technology’s advancements come at the expense of the skills and experience the human recruiter brings to the table?

How times have changed!

The recruitment industry has been around in one form or another since the early 1900s, where jobs were advertised in newspapers and recruiters faced the extremely tough task of sourcing the best candidates on the market and manually typing up their CVs from their originals. Up until the 1970s, before the widespread use of computers, mobile phones and the internet, recruitment agencies met every candidate face-to-face to ‘vet’ them, before storing their credentials and personal details in a physical index, ready to be called upon when a vacancy arose.

This process relied upon the ability of the recruiter to build strong relationships and make good personal judgements - qualities which are still very important today - but the process was much more arduous and time consuming. Print advertising was king, and the ability of a recruiter to build strong, long-term relationships with both candidates and clients was an essential part of staying afloat in the competitive world of candidate attraction.  This was, and still is, particularly pertinent for recruiters working in contract, temporary and seasonal industries, where candidates seek out reliable recruiters they trust to work with time and again. In a world before the Internet, industry professionals were heavily reliant on their interpersonal skills and ability to build rapport – an attribute technology has not yet been able to emulate.

The modern recruiter

The advent of the Internet well and truly shook up the traditional way recruiters worked: suddenly, CVs could be created in Microsoft Word and sent via email, candidates could be informed almost immediately whether they’d progressed to the next stage of the recruitment process, and the candidate pool widened significantly as a result. This streamlining made it quicker than ever to fill jobs, and laid the groundwork for a more competitive market, which built upon the latest technology and allowed recruiters to compete for the best candidates. 

New technologies require today’s recruiters to leverage an ever-increasing number of skills to source and hire the best in the market. 79% of job hunters use social media in their search, and everyone from millennials to baby boomers are using mobile devices to search for jobs – with 78% of the younger job seekers turning to their phones to find employment. The digital generation are becoming more knowledgeable – and therefore more demanding - about what they expect from the companies and agencies that are competing to get their attention.

To do this, recruitment is becoming more of a marketing game, with recruiters using social media to build their presence and advertise jobs online, adapting websites to be mobile-friendly, and leveraging online job boards to get their vacancies into the market. Digital marketing is increasingly important for recruiters, and the advent of ‘Google for Job’s only emphasises the need for organisations to take charge of their online presence.

Increasingly sophisticated online search functionality, automation tools and robotics mean that firing and hiring candidates can be done more quickly and efficiently than ever. Time and resource poor organisations can employ the use of online CV parsing tools, virtual personal assistants, automated messaging and scheduling software – and that’s just to get candidates through the door! With AI touted as the solution to many labour-intensive tasks, would-be recruiters could, theoretically start their own agencies with the touch of a button, using the suite of technology and tools available to automate tasks that have traditionally been human-driven. But what does this mean for the personal connections so crucial to recruitment, and can a machine really understand – and adapt to - both a candidate’s and client’s requirements?

Are recruiters still needed?

Though new developments have the potential to revolutionise the way in which recruiters do business, they don’t remove the need for the expertise, experience and personality that recruiters bring to the table. The value of a good recruiter is still high in the recruitment sector. According to our recent Market Insights Survey, 48% of recruitment professionals found their current role via a consultancy, rather than through social media or Indeed.

Recruiters have in-depth industry experience that has enabled them to build strong, long-term relationships with clients and candidates, and build a reputation within the industry that a machine cannot match. In a recent survey, 43% of candidates said that they preferred to interact with a human first and foremost, and a machine only in the last instance: a recruiter can provide reassurance, advice and invaluable insights into how best to navigate the recruitment world.

In a market that’s always changing, working with a firm that can call on these years of experience can make all the difference in finding that star candidate. At Marks Sattin, we’ve seen the recruitment industry grow and develop since we were founded in 1988, which has given us an understanding of candidate and client needs that robots and computers simply don’t have, regardless of their programming prowess. Though technology aids recruiters, it’s not the solution to recruitment.

Industry expertise

Success requires flexibility, and we believe that staying competitive requires you to embrace both tradition and innovation. At Marks Sattin, we’re proud of our heritage as a long-time specialist financial recruiter, but we’re also looking to the future and keeping track of the market, to better adapt to the changing needs of our clients and candidates. Find out for yourself, by browsing our content or our specialisms to see if we can help you take the next step in your recruitment journey.

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