Digitalisation makes recruitment quicker but not always easier
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Digitalisation makes recruitment quicker but not always easier

In theory this would mean a faster hiring process, happier candidates and employees, and a more polished employer brand. In reality, it's not so simple.

2 November 2021

I make calls, send emails and schedule interviews. I log onto different recruitment websites and view the job posts my team has put up. There are spreadsheets I have to look at to get statistics like the time-to-hire. I use this to manage the business and it allows me to present high-level info on how the business is doing.

Overall, both data and time are two very valuable commodities in my daily life. If I could do all this work in just one hour, once a week, this would be my definition of digital transformation. We are nowhere near there yet. But, when we do get there, it will have a profound impact on my job along with the rest of the recruitment industry.

In theory this would mean a faster hiring process, happier candidates and employees, and a more polished employer brand. In reality, it's not so simple.

First, the rise of applicant document systems

The most visible sign of this digital transformation that is already occurring can be seen with the rise of applicant document systems. You may not be familiar with them, but if you have applied for a job recently, you may have used them without realising.

Nowadays, many medium-to-large companies use an applicant document system to filter and organise the job applications they receive prior to organising interviews. From a candidate's perspective the experience will often start with seeing a job advert online, which leads to a link being clicked to an application portal. Candidates then go through a form-based process, with a list of everything from previous jobs, skills and experiences, and other important criteria necessary for the role.

Quite often, the process involves uploading your CV, which is then read by an algorithm that pre-populates the form to help the candidate and encourage them to apply.

From a recruiter's perspective, this tool is incredibly powerful because it collects and digitalises the data for each applicant. Subsequently, much more meaningful comparisons can be made between candidates as data held is standardised.

An application document system can handle huge volumes of applications made online. It can then filter them down to only the best candidates for an interview. This precision should in theory ensure a much faster recruitment process and reduce the time to hire.

Where it can break down

As a recruiter I need to have access to better metrics. Its a lot easier to evaluate candidates because you are presented with clean data that is comparable.

However, this extra information doesn't always make it easier to hire. There is a certain subjectivity that is needed during the hiring process, which can only be gained with experience.

One of the reasons I am able to choose the right candidate for my clients is because I understand my clients really well. My long-term relationship with them means that I can appreciate their culture and values. I also understand where the business is heading and the type of people they need.

Sometimes I meet a candidate, and I just know that they are the right person for that job. I can see them working for that company and feeling content. It's not something that is always captured in data.

It's instinctive. It's a feeling. You know that when you present that candidate, the client is going to love them.

Sometimes these candidates are not suitable on paper. They may not have the experience yet. Or, they may work in a different industry, but have developed an interesting and alternative skill set. They may be candidates that just need a bit of time to grow into a new role that has just been presented.

From the client's perspective, it's a much better long-term investment. They can shape the candidate they hire to work in the role they desire.

The bottom line

I think digital tools are extremely useful during recruitment. However, they are just tools and not a replacement for a skilled human recruiter. Finding the right balance between human subjectiveness and intuition, and digital technology is important. If we rely too much on digital tools, we might miss out potentially good candidates that slip through the net.

However, I don't think we are at risk of doing this. I find that as a recruiter we are valued for our skill at finding the best candidates. We do use digital technology, but it is a supplement to the skills that we bring. It helps us do our job better and serve our clients.

Digitalisation makes recruitment quicker, but we make it easier for our clients to find the right candidate.

Luca Semeraro

Head of Badenoch & Clark
Zurich, Switzerland

Follow Luca on LinkedIn