Jack has always followed two general approaches when making contact with a candidate. The first contact is always a phone call to do an initial screen and “gut” assessment. The second contact, assuming there is one, is an interview. There may be a phone call or two, or even an email, to set up the interview; but that is often left to his assistant. Although new technologies have become common, Jack has not really incorporated them into his day-to-day routine. Jack says he doesn’t use email as a primary contact tool because it is too impersonal and because many senior-level candidates like the personal touch of a phone call. It is also very hard for him to assess a candidate, he says, using email. He needs to hear their voice and get a sense of how they respond to questions he asks. Experts in psychology agree that an experienced recruiter like Jack can probably get a sense of a candidate’s verbal acuity and personality from a phone call, but not much else. On the negative side, they can also most likely determine a candidate’s race and national origin, which may lead to the screening out of good candidates. No matter how hard we try, personal prejudice always colors how we regard candidates. The other problem with phone calls is that they take too much time. The average call probably takes around 25 to 30 minutes, if you connect with the candidate at all. When you don’t immediately connect, a game of “phone tag” often takes place, which wastes more time. One or two emails, combined with a screening process, can save hours of time and increase your efficiency. Research shows that almost everyone is using email. The Digital Future Report*, Surveying the Digital Future, Year Four, which was recently published by the University of Southern California, shows that more than 76% of Americans have access to the Internet and that 90% of them have email and use it. This means that almost 72% of Americans have access to both the Internet and email on a regular basis. The same report also shows a 300% increase in the use of broadband (cable and DSL) in the home since 2000. The Internet is slowly replacing television as the way we receive news and other information, and is a primary communication tool. People are clearly using the Internet as a means of job searching, as a way of communicating with friends and family, and as way to stay in touch across the miles. Telephony is important and remains a powerful communications tool, but the Internet is catching up. The fear of someone getting information about you and other privacy issues are often brought up as a reason to not use the Internet or email. Although many of the survey respondents did have some concerns over the privacy of their personal data on the Internet, that concern has steadily dropped over the three years the study has asked about it. So what does this mean for a recruiter? It means you can find, connect with, communicate with, and even screen candidates without a phone call. Organizations that have put together quality recruiting websites and that work to develop relationships are finding that more and more good candidates are coming to them through this website. When you add to the site online screening and assessment technologies, you get fewer, but much more qualified, candidates to communicate with. Websites are very popular with candidates and are the first place most serious job seekers go to learn about new positions, an organization, or a product or service. About 74% of the survey respondents felt that the data found on corporate and government websites was credible. While I have no actual to data to back me up, I believe the average recruiter has a much lower credibility when it comes to describing a position or explaining what an organization does on the phone. Technology can alert you to candidates who are exceptionally qualified by sending you an email with information about the candidate from their profile. You can then send the candidate an email, an instant message, or pick up the phone. Candidates that I speak with are not troubled at all with email, and many prefer it. They may have questions to ask to get more details about a position or they may just want to know what the status of the position is. Email can provide this with speed and clarity. There are many other communication tools that are enabled by the Internet. All of them can play a role in your recruiting process and can reduce wasted time and costs. For example, recruiters can put together a “webinar,” or seminar given over the web, for a group of interested candidates. None of them has to know the other is there. You, as a recruiter, can touch numerous candidates at the same time with information about a position, your organization, or whatever else is of interest. Or you can have all of the candidates be aware of one another and establish a session with discussion. This will give you insight into the candidates you will not get with any other method. With this tool, you can invite senior management to say a few words or you can show a short video. The possibilities are really only limited by your imagination. Emerging technologies allow candidates to self-schedule interviews and provide them up-to-date information on their status. Interviews can be conducted by video from a number of sources, including Kinko’s Copy Centers. The possibilities to begin utilizing technology to ease your workload, improve efficiency, and save costs are potentially huge. The telephone looks very 20th century, very old-fashioned and is less and less useful everyday.
*The Digital Future Report, Surveying the Digital Future, Year 4, USC Annenberg School, Center for the Digital Future, 2004.