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Technology’s role in recruitment

As with many HR processes, technology can be a key enabler.
By: | May 19, 2020 • 5 min read

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series on recruiting strategies and priorities for HR leaders—from HR’s top experts. The interviews were conducted prior to the impacts of coronavirus on the workplace. 

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“It’s a battle for talent right now,” says Jen Clark, vice president of talent acquisition at staffing firm OperationsInc. “If you’re not focused on candidate experience, then you’re going to lose them.”

A survey by Gartner late last year found that 70% of job candidates expressed dissatisfaction with the way in which the hiring organization kept them up to date during the recruitment process. Although this has always been a pain point in recruiting, candidates tend to find such delays especially galling these days, says Lauren Smith, vice president of Gartner’s HR practice.

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“We’re in an age when you can track the progress of your pizza delivery on your phone,” she says. In light of this, people have less patience than ever for recruiting’s “black hole.”

Companies that can demonstrate that they “have it together”—i.e., they’re organized and intentional about their interactions with people—stand a much better chance of landing quality candidates than those that don’t, says Smith.

As with many HR processes, technology can be a key enabler.

Brianna Foulds, director of talent acquisition at HCM vendor Cornerstone OnDemand Inc. (which recently acquired rival software-maker Saba for $1.4 billion), says that, when it comes to the “moments that matter” for her organization’s candidates, the smart use of tech is crucial.

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“I try and narrow it down to making things simple, fast, transparent and organized,” says Foulds, who oversees the hiring of roughly 500 people a year for fast-growing CSOD, which has roughly 2,000 employees.

Indeed, Foulds has actually had to dial things back a bit because the process was simply moving too fast for some job applicants.

“We did a survey and found that candidates felt they were receiving feedback too quickly,” she says.

Candidates who applied for a job at CSOD would often hear back within an hour about whether or not their skills and experiences matched the position’s requirements. Many were convinced that the speedy response meant no human had set eyes on their application, says Foulds.

“Candidates want speed and expect automation, but they also want to feel that a person is on the other end,” she says.

CSOD, which uses its own software for recruiting, responded by increasing the length of time in which candidates receive responses from less than to more than an hour. It also modified the response text for rejected candidates to note that the application had been reviewed by a recruiter and that, while the candidate’s skills weren’t a match for that position, there were others they might be qualified for.

“Ironically, candidates usually complain about a black hole but, in this case, we had to slow down a little,” says Foulds.

Kyle Lagunas, director of strategy for talent management vendor Beamery, says chatbots can free up recruiters to spend more time providing a personalized experience for candidates.

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“By answering candidates’ questions quickly, bots can help candidates feel more engaged with the recruiting organization,” he says.

Michele Mavi

Beamery, which provides recruitment software and services to large companies, partners with vendors such as HiredScore and Brazen to help its clients develop more sophisticated campaigns for hard-to-fill roles. HiredScore uses “deep learning” to recommend the ideal candidates for various roles, while Brazen uses a combination of chatbots and “chat servers” to offer candidates a “higher-touch” experience than is possible with chatbots alone, says Lagunas.

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Of course, more tech isn’t always the answer, cautions Michele Mavi, director of internal recruiting for staffing firm Atrium. “I think, with the rise of AI, there’s been a lot that gets lost.”

When you schedule a meeting the old-fashioned way instead of using a bot, for example, you learn certain things about a candidate, she says.

“It’s about their responsiveness, the tone in their voice, you pick up certain nuances you’d otherwise miss,” says Mavi. “Tech certainly has its place, but I think it’s very dangerous—even with a lot of the administrative stuff—to completely eliminate the human element.”

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To read the first part of this series, click here.

Andrew R. McIlvaine is former senior editor with Human Resource Executive®.

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