History is filled with valuable lessons from which we can all learn. One of the best is the tale of King Cnut – if only for his fantastic name.
As the story goes, King Cnut saw himself as God’s representative on earth and, therefore, commanded the waves not to wet his feet.
That story ends with a predictably squelchy walk home from the beach. But the fable has since been adopted as a lesson against complacency.
No matter how powerful or important we may believe ourselves to be, time and tide waits for no-one.
Recruitment 2020: how will it change?
It is fairly clear that businesses are facing some rather large sea changes of their own. The next couple of years will see a proliferation of smart computing and automation. And, if you run your own business, today’s decisions could shape your fortunes for years to come.
But, while artificial intelligence grabs the headlines, it’s not all about technology. Expectations are changing, too. If automation is allowing some talent managers to spend more time learning about their candidates, then pretty soon that becomes the new normal. Candidates will expect closer, personal assistance in their searches. Clients will anticipate increasingly accurate shortlists.
But don’t take our word for it: listen to your candidates. A recent report by recruiters Carmichael Fisher found that 84 per cent are dissatisfied with the existing candidate experience.
Difficulties such as slow progress or unfairness and bias dramatically increased drop-out rates among applicants. In these areas, AI was seen as a tremendous leap forward for the industry.
Inconvenient Truth: Technology is not a shortcut
But that does not mean that any upstart firm can simply purchase an AI machine and become a world-beating recruiter. If anything, misuse of automation may make matters worse.
86 per cent of candidates want their CV read by a human. 90 per cent want interviews conducted face-to-face with an actual human being. And almost three quarters (73%) said that a fully-automated hiring process would be worse than the slow, existing systems.
What does this tell us? That there is an inconvenient truth, and that is: technology is not a shortcut to success.
Good recruiters, with best technology, will always beat bad recruiters with best technology.
But we are looking at a future where, for perhaps the first time, bad recruiters with the best technology could start beating the good recruiters with bad technology.
What seems like a minor point may in fact be a crucial landmark. It is the moment when the underlying technology becomes so disruptive that it changes the nature of the industry itself. Think Amazon selling books over the internet, or Uber providing car rides home.
When disruptive recruitment tech lands, it will have very real consequences for both sides of the jobs market.
But we have already seen the preference for human interaction. How will automation change that? Not by overall candidate and client satisfaction, but by simply drowning out the competition through sheer speed, volume, and choice.
How disruptive tech changes everything
Let’s see how this has played out in other industries affected by disruptive tech. Take Uber. It’s cheaper than a black cab. The sheer number of available drivers available means its usually faster. “But these drivers are not screened professionals; they leave a bad user experience” – this was the initial pushback.
And, to a degree, that was true. But the app itself kept on growing.
How? By playing the volumes game. Many drivers delivered substandard services. But just enough good ones got through to keep satisfaction levels in check. And, in the balance of speed, cost, and quality, Uber found that customers would trade some quality assurances for a bit more of the other two.
If this starts to happen in recruitment, it would be bad for the industry as a whole. The candidate experience would falling further. Clients who were initially impressed by response times will be left ultimately dissatisfied by the outcomes afforded by volumes-game recruiters. They look at the methods used by this new breed of recruiter and bring their talent searches in-house. The pool of clients available for quality recruiters declines further – even though their own value offering has not changed.
It’s no longer a case of Right and Wrong
While it is tempting to create a binary debate over recruitment technology, reality is much less well defined. It is not an argument of “good, traditional recruiters versus bad, tech-based firms”. It’s more a case of “what works versus what doesn’t”.
Bad recruiters, and inexperienced new hopefuls could make it harder for industry veterans simply because the next-generation tech levels the playing field.
But traditional recruiters who do not update their approaches are equally responsible. It is a matter of those who are able to move with the times and update their offering to clients and candidates.
In the years ahead, the “good recruiters” may be the ones who are able to move on from the battles already won, and re-engage with the industry on new frontiers. Recruitment has not yet had its ‘Amazon’ arrive and shake up the industry. But the odds of this happening soon are increasingly likely.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this week’s opinion piece, you can talk to one of our trained advisors.