Why recruiters are here to stay

The right technology can harness recruiters’ talents to improve the process
By Ben Hutt
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/04/2015

Recruiters and headhunters have been around as long as people have been working in offices, and most business leaders seem to have a love-hate relationship with them for a variety of reasons.


Over the past decade, there have been lots of innovations in recruitment, driven by technology, that aim to minimize the role of the recruiter. Job boards and ads are the primary mechanism used to hire — more than 79.5 per cent of permanent roles in Canada are still filled by this slow and ineffective channel, according to Search Party internal research. This method is cheap, yes, but unreliable and the burden is placed on employers. 

Social networks have also evolved into hiring tools that aim to replace the recruiter. Some look at online resumés (such as LinkedIn) while others look at all the other social network data publicly available to influence talent sourcing decisions (such as TalentBin). 


All these innovations are designed to empower employers to source and recruit talent themselves, without the support (or interference) of a recruiter and the fees that go with it.


However, employers often compromise on candidates because these existing processes are “too slow” and do not always deliver the right candidates.


But the movement to reduce the role of the recruiter will become detrimental to businesses that face a talent shortage as a result of a booming economic period, timed with the retirement of many baby boomers. 


As with any specialty, people working in the recruitment field have spent decades studying the hiring process and learning exactly what employers need to do to land top-tier talent in a competitive environment. 


It all starts with collecting very granular data on candidates that includes their employment history, areas of specialty, skills, certifications relevant to their career field and graduate coursework. Recruiters track candidates’ career progression over time so they always have the most up-to-date information on their people. 


Recruiters are also experts at determining whether a candidate is a good cultural fit — one of the most important aspects of career success that can lead to greater job satisfaction, tenure and performance. 


Culture and aptitude fit are growing considerations for employers. This likely means companies will want to differentiate and communicate their company culture, while putting an increased weight on personality and cultural fit during hiring. 


Enter recruiters — their familiarity with both parties gives them the optimal position of mediator in matching the right person with the right company, over and above the necessity of matching candidates based on skills. Given that recruiters have come to know their candidates personally over an extended period of time, their ability to evaluate both cultural fit and skills is unmatched.


A significant amount of effort must be put forth to convince candidates who are happy in their current roles to jump ship for new opportunities. That is why recruiters have become incredibly skilled in persuading candidates to consider something different. They know what benefits and salary requirements are necessary for employers to get the most talented team members in place. 


The career success of a great recruiter revolves around knowing trends in hiring, what jobs are available in the market and what candidates — with which skills — are out there, waiting to be placed. Through industry networking and daily intel gathering, they inherently have the inside track. This makes them perfectly poised to have up-to-date market intelligence — which might be harder for employers to reach.


It would be a mistake to think technology is the reason recruiters’ jobs are being threatened — the right technology can harnesses recruiters’ talents while making the recruitment process more economical, efficient and effective. Recruiting is tougher than ever, but with developments in data science and technology, there are quicker and more effective ways to recruit.


So what does this look like? It’s about embracing marketplace economics and leveraging the power of data science and machine learning (systems that can make sense of vast volumes of data that were impossible until only recently) to quickly and easily identify the best candidates for specific jobs. 


Screening and “selling” the job to a candidate will then be handled by experienced recruiters to maximize the chance of success. This model will be a true paradigm shift in recruitment as it empowers the three stakeholders in recruitment: the employer, recruiter and candidate.


Ben Hutt is the Sydney, Australia-based CEO of the Search Party, an online recruitment marketplace/platform. For more information, visit www.thesearchparty.com.

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