Are Recruiters’ Jobs Safe From Automation?

Are Recruiters’ Jobs Safe From Automation?

Emily Smykal

Losing jobs to technology has long been a concern within the job market. But as talent acquisition teams adopt new software and tech tools, should recruiters worry about their own positions?

Search engine optimized career sites, job alerts and mobile applications, LinkedIn connections, employer review sites–job seekers didn’t used to have these tools at their fingertips. As changes in technology and the ways candidates discover and learn about positions continue to evolve, it’s no surprise the role of recruiters is morphing.

This disintermediation of the job search process–cutting out the guy in the middle–means candidates have more opportunities to connect directly with employers and jobs. But if candidates have more control over their job applications, will even further automation of the process make recruiters obsolete?

Not at all. Automation of some tasks is inevitable. But it can also lead to more effective recruiters providing their companies with more valuable skills and knowledge. In this post we’ll explore the ever-changing relationship between recruitment and automation.

The Disintermediation of the Job Search Process

Job searching today is more of a self-service task than ever. Candidates find available jobs in a variety of ways, apply through new channels, and may even be invited in for an interview without ever speaking to a recruiter. Research from the Talent Board’s Candidate Experience 2014 report found that 78.6% of candidates discovered a job they wanted to apply for through their own search methods. Only 7.8% applied to jobs after direct contact from a recruiter.

Recruiters may be disheartened to know this data aligns pretty closely with candidate views towards job searching techniques. Research from CareerBuilder shows that 73% of job seekers in the U.S. start their search in Google, compared to 51% browsing job boards. These days candidates use search engines to find job titles, company benefits, position requirements, even office locations that appeal to them personally.

CareerBuilder also found that 80% of candidates go directly from Google search (and some job boards) to company career websites. This means many job seekers are already browsing your job descriptions without any direct contact with your recruitment team–often discovering opportunities heavily influenced by Google’s machine learning algorithms. This also highlights the increasing importance of improving the search engine optimization (SEO) of your career site.

And according to The Talent Board report, 64.5% of applicants said a company’s career site was the most valuable channel for researching employment opportunities. Other popular channels? Job notifications (33.7%), LinkedIn career pages (24.7%), online groups (24%), employer reviews (19.9%), employee referral programs (17%), mobile career site or app (10.8%) and content channels (6% percent).

If a lot of these channels look automated to you, it’s because they are. But if you look closely, you’ll see talent acquisition can’t run on full automation–human interaction and input is still essential.

Can Jobs Be Filled Automatically?

Automation can process new job applications, scan resumes for keywords, send out job alerts, post scheduled content on social media… the list seems endless. But new technologies in talent acquisition can’t do everything. At the bottom of the recruitment funnel, your team needs to manage many of these automated processes, and provide content and human interaction that software simply can’t do.

If a majority of applicants rely on company career websites to research opportunities, that still requires a person to write content for the site including open positions. The same applies for many external recruitment channels. Your corporate LinkedIn profile won’t write itself, and your company’s Facebook page can’t write it’s own status updates. Most importantly, the application process as a whole needs a guiding human hand to move applicants through the funnel, answering questions and arranging or conducting interviews.

At the top of the funnel, recruitment managers and talent acquisition leaders are still essential for building relationships–externally through talent pipelines, and internally with colleagues and CxOs. If you have more time to spend collaborating with department heads to predict future needs thanks to some automation, you can better demonstrate your value when it comes to decision-making and sourcing passive candidates.

The argument for more automation where applicable is that talent acquisition professionals can do more meaningful tasks, leaving the tedium to machines.

Moving Forward with Automation

Some would argue that a number of recruitment tasks reserved for humans won’t last long in the digital age. For instance, software paired with analytics, social media, or search behavior may someday be able to predict who good hires are and automatically reach out to them (did you see how Google recruited engineers with a Matrix-style hack in 2015?). But we think there’s a limit to how much automation can accomplish.

After all, most candidates are more than a summary of skills and experience. The personal connection we feel during an interview, and the traits we notice during conversation, are largely lost on machines. And the negotiations involved in recruitment–convincing managers to choose one applicant, convincing applicants to take the salary offered–won’t translate well into algorithms. Not to mention the creativity required to attract and ultimately hire the best candidates in an increasingly competitive job market.

Plus, positions in recruitment and HR don’t rank very high in studies of occupations that are likely to be computerized. In fact, recent job market data shows an increase in the number of postings for human resource positions. While that growth may be due to a variety of factors, we think it’s safe to say recruiters and talent acquisition teams are not being replaced by machines. They’re simply learning to work with them.

Check out our new eBook, “The Talent Acquisition Leader’s Guide to the New Candidate Journey.” From employer branding to recruitment marketing and conversion optimization, this eBook dives into what modern leaders should be thinking about.

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