There is evidence of automation being used by humans thousands of years ago. In modern times, it was made famous by the Ford Motor Company to efficiently mass produce cars. The idea was eventually applied to businesses with the goal of reducing manual labor, speeding up processes and ultimately saving money.
There is a problem, however, with using automation to replace a business process – it does not effectively replace human interaction. As a result, it’s a poor substitute for the areas of recruitment that are interactive or based primarily on evaluation. While automation can help with efficiencies in some parts of the hiring lifecycle, it is problematic in many areas. If you are considering using automation in your hiring practice, here are some areas where it may hurt more than help.
Resume review is largely subjective. To really understand a candidate’s story, what they’ve done and the path they’ve taken, recruiters and hiring managers need to read the resume. Keyword automation tools can provide some benefit, but resume screening is more than searching for keywords.
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) have convinced hiring professionals they can save time by automating much of this review process. If your applicants are being screened by an ATS or similar software, you’re doing yourself, your organization and the candidate a disservice. A person’s career and accomplishments cannot be summed up with a Boolean search string. When hiring professionals rely on automated screenings, they are absolutely missing out on top candidates.
There are many tools that automate initial outreach to prospective candidates. Often, these products screen and identify potential candidates, and then send them electronic communication. To add credibility, the automated messages may appear to come from a person of influence like the CEO or another senior-level person. I would caution anyone using automation for this step of the process. Why? The messages often fail to be personalized or to effectively express why the candidate is being contacted. Anything specific is often so generalized that it does not carry any real weight. Candidates want to know why they are being contacted, why their background is of interest, or where the connection is between their background and the opportunity. The automated messages fall short of this goal and may result in low response rates.
Additionally, I often hear stories of overlap in these messages – meaning the candidate already interviewed with the company or has a personal relationship with someone at the company. As a result, these automated messages can prove to be confusing or to send mixed messages. The quality control involved with automated messages is insufficient, and candidates can perceive your company as being disorganized or disingenuous.
Most importantly, candidates can generally tell when your messages are automated, and it makes a difference. When people feel they are being sought out by your ATS or a piece of software, it does not carry much weight. Some may even find it offensive or will see you as being detached from your hiring process. In a tight job market, don’t risk losing good candidates because you let an automated message engage the people you covet.
Ongoing Candidate Communication
Once you have fully engaged potential candidates, using an automated process can be a costly mistake. Candidates want human interaction, and they want to feel their candidacy is valued. They desire feedback, may have questions, and most of all, do not want to be viewed as a number or a statistic in your hiring workflow. Automated communication will not impress candidates and may drive them to seek opportunities where they feel more valued. Recruiters and hiring managers are also missing a key touchpoint where they can gather feedback and information to start building a real and lasting relationship.
It’s about a positive candidate experience
The Internet is full of websites that offer reviews and opinions on everything including where to work and where not to work. In a very competitive job market where the exchange of information and posting of reviews is so easy, companies are realizing that the experience candidates have throughout the hiring process matters. With a personalized touch, you will give your job seekers a more positive experience and will help ensure that reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed are solid. Given how negatively automation can impact many parts of the candidate experience, it’s not worth risking the negative reviews for the small benefits automation might offer.
Where automation can help
Automation can have a place in your hiring process. Your social media presence and the sharing of company and industry news is one place where automation tools are valuable. Automation is also helpful in scheduling phone calls and interviews via online scheduling tools, as well as Applicant Tracking Systems that prompt candidates for all sorts of information that a company needs during the hiring process. In addition, many technology companies now include technical evaluations, tests and programming exercises as a part of their evaluation process. Automation can play a positive role in helping to add efficiencies to these parts of the hiring process.
High quality recruiting is still very much a high-touch process that needs expert eyes, ears and voices to make it work well. As recruiters, we will ultimately do the best job, and find the best talent, when we use tools to support our own human interaction throughout the hiring lifecycle.
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