SelectOne Blog

Will Technology Replace Recruiters?


Every time a new job board or search technology launches or becomes popular, the common refrain is about the pending doom of the staffing industry.

Years ago, job boards like Monster and Career Builder and other search technologies were touted by some as a death knell for search firms, since any company could search and contact candidates on their own. Then came LinkedIn, Indeed and many others.  And yet our industry is thriving, with search and placement revenue growing at an annual rate of 8%, but how is this possible?

It’s possible because job boards and search technology are missing one key component inherent to recruiters – the ability to compel action.   

Recruiting in the Past

Twenty years ago the primary function of a recruiter was to be part detective, part salesperson, part psychologist, and to wear these hats with dogged diligence and persistence.  

Great recruiters were sweet-talking office managers and receptionists to get to decision makers and desirable candidates.  They were obtaining company or department phone directories and cold calling prospects at a feverish pace.  Hand delivering resumes to hiring managers because email wasn’t yet omnipresent.  

Recruiting Today

Modern recruiters and search firms still need to play some of the same roles, but the single biggest difference is that information, and therefore access to prospective candidates, is nearly ubiquitous.  

Not only does the information reveal where good prospective, skilled candidates and leaders are, but also who they are and how to get in touch with them. It’s all out there for the taking with the right technologies and skilled approach.  

So then, what is the true value of recruiters and headhunters, and why haven’t search firms taken it on the chin because everyone can be found with search technology?

It’s simple actually.  

We deploy technology in many ways – CRM, search technology, data mining, marketing platforms, contact info databases, various integrations between platforms, and a myriad of other ways (hey – can’t give away all the secret sauce here!).  

The Value of Recruiters

Technology helps us build target candidate lists faster, log interactions more efficiently, communicate with minimal effort and maximum effectiveness, and evaluate candidates with greater accuracy and confidence.  It streamlines follow ups, facilitates processes, and enhances customer experience.  But – I have yet to see a single technology that compels people to take action.

For example, consider a job board.

Job boards require two things to be successful – people to look at them/apply to jobs and people posting resumes.

With 50% of Americans reportedly unhappy at work, let’s assume only the unhappy half are glancing at job boards, occasionally. Of the unhappy half, only 10% viewing a job posting will submit an application, and so right away a job posting narrows the search to 5% of the workforce. I won’t even get into what percentage of the 5% are relevant qualified applicants – that’s a topic for another blog. 

This illustrates the fact that job boards are convenient, however a key component is missing in order to compel the other 95% of the workforce to take action

This is the simplicity of what we do – and it sure is a challenge!

The Human Touch

What do I mean by “compelling people to take action?”  There are a variety of candidate (and client) junctures throughout our search process that involve simple, yet symbolic decisions with significant future implications:  whether or not to return a call, prepare a resume, agree to be presented to an opportunity, take time to prepare for an interview, agree to take a final interview, reasonably negotiate an offer, put in notice, and on and on.  

The bottom line is there are so many critical decision points in a process that most people find to be downright stressful and intimidating – both of which make it really difficult to make an objective, good decision.  

 A great recruiter will compel action in a proactive, positive way, knowing when to push, pull, or apply pressure, and perhaps even more importantly, when it’s right to back off.   

Technology and software has changed our industry at a rapid pace, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  But I’ve yet to see any software that can compel action, replacing the most critical component of the search process - human interaction.  

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