Recruitment – the brave new world of technology!

Written by: Steve Playford
Published on: 7 Oct 2015

How will people find jobs in the brave new world of technologically driven recruitment?  Last week I considered a paper by Professor Goodhart and others, for Morgan Stanley, which argues that global demographics mean fewer workers, increased wage growth, reduced inequality and more problems for companies as they attempt to keep their businesses competitive by securing the talent that keeps them ahead of the game.

If this comes, even partially, to pass, then the likelihood is that recruitment as we have known it for decades will have to change dramatically.  Technology will, almost certainly, replace some, if not most, human interactions. After all, if a computer can be programmed to search the internet, find jobs, find CVs and then bring them together, set interview questions, assess candidates and then finally pass a short-list to a human to make the final decision (and even that may not happen for some jobs), why do we need recruiters?

The obvious answer is that good recruiters will help companies find those ‘passive’ candidates.  Yet if technology can track down these people through the web, what then? There will, obviously, be a few candidates who remain offline or otherwise elusive and here the traditional headhunter’s little black book of contacts will be invaluable, but in most cases I suspect that we’ll soon find that even passive candidates are not difficult to winkle out of cyberspace (of which more below). 

Candidates are one thing, but what about the jobs. And what about job-boards like Well, you could argue that technology will be able to find jobs on companies’ websites, yet not every company is a major firm with the resources or indeed the inclination to maintain a jobs page. In the same way that in the days of print, the top 100 (often the top 10) clients of every major newspaper included ‘small ads’, so the vast bulk of recruitment is still likely to be a distress purchase on an as and when basis, even for some quite large companies.  That means it needs a vehicle to convey a message to the candidates.

Yes, even in this new world there needs to be a bridge between candidates and recruiters.  Although many are predicting the end of job-boards, I believe the reality is that those job-boards who invest in technology wisely will become the conduit between the technologies that increasingly exist at each end of the recruitment pipeline. The history of recruitment, from hiring fairs to hashtags, dictates that people – whether recruiters or candidates - like to be able to go to a place, (real or in cyberspace) where jobs are gathered. So, despite the doom-mongers, that will be job-boards or something very similar.

A coda: technology job-boards should be doing more with technology. Those which start to use remarketing techniques (in the same way that e-commerce websites do) can, if they wish, serve ‘reminder’ advertising to anyone, browsing a totally different site, who has previously visited the job-board and looked at a specific job category.  In exactly the same way that an e-commerce site converts a previous, passing interest into a sale, such remarketing by a job-board could transform success rates for advertisers and indeed for candidates. It would challenge notions of passive candidate attraction, currently based around contextual advertising on the publishers’ sites to one were the advert follows the candidate. And it would be very effective.  Watch this space…

Steve Playford, Global Director, FT Career Management