The Changing Face of Recruiting Tools

Since the early 1980s, software has become a required tool for recruiters. Restrac, now called WebHire, and Resumix were the first on the scene in any significant way. Initially, most recruiters couldn?t see how these tools could possibly help them. Then, as resume volume rose, recruiters saw value in being able to scan resumes into a database and then search and retrieve specific resumes from the hundreds or thousands that were in that database. I remember how impressed I was when I typed in a few key words and magically names appeared on my screen. But it only took a few minutes to realize that most of what was retrieved wasn?t what I was really looking for. However the search algorithms have improved and, even though candidates have gotten savvy and have loaded their resumes with words that trigger search engines to surface their resumes from the masses, a trained recruiter can locate very specific skills quickly. And, over the years these tools have become much more than just retrieval engines. They now serve as administrative assistants helping to set up interviews, track the results of interviews and pass candidate information on to HRIS systems. In short, over the past 20 years we have evolved what was a simple concept into a sophisticated tool for storing, tracking, retrieving and passing on information about candidates to hiring managers and to other corporate functions. We have, in effect, automated and streamlined the bureaucracy that used to keep many clerks busy. With the advent of the Internet we have found ways to use the web as a front-end to these systems and make it even easier for information to get into our databases. Large companies can now count on getting hundreds of resumes submitted to their resume database every day. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> Unfortunately, the world has changed. Storing, retrieving, and manipulating data has not only become less important, it has done nothing to make recruiters more successful. So a recruiter can find a person in the database with a particular skill? Is being able to find a candidate who is unavailable, who has moved, who is not interested anymore, who is actually not qualified for the position what you need to be successful? I think not. We have entered the era where doing stuff to data is trite and expected. What we need now are tools that help us build relationships and develop ongoing, value-added knowledge about candidates. We need software tools to brand our company, to sell our company to candidates, to screen and qualify them and to help them find the best possible position for them in our company. We have moved from the age of store and retrieve to the age of attract and communicate and sell. That?s why tools that track applicants are quickly becoming commodities. There is still some value in passing information on to hiring managers and to feeding HRIS systems, but the real value ? the things that are going to cause your boss to say that you are great ? is the ability to not only FIND a candidate, but to find the right candidate who is likely to say yes and who is excited about your company and the position you have to offer. Can software tools do this? Yes, there are many that are beginning to enable us to put together communities instead of databases. Databases are 20th century. Communities are 21st century. What?s a community? It?s an online group of people who have a common interest and similar skill set. Moreover, they have some interest in your company and in the position your company has to offer them. Most are employed and many are not ready, yet, to make move. But they are ready to find out more about your company over time. A community is a fluid, changing bunch of people who come to your website to chat, to share, to learn, and eventually to get recruited. Companies such as have begun to develop these 21st century community-building tools. Companies like Cisco Systems have built some of these tools into their website. Cisco has a button that allows candidates to make a friend at Cisco ? to find a person within the company that has the same skill set ? and communicate with them through email. The Boston Consulting Group allows candidates to create a profile of a job and then links them to employees who have a similar profile. Agilent Technologies encourages candidates to outline their ideal job. All of these tools are beginning efforts to create communities of people who are available, qualified and willing to work for your company someday. This is where the future of recruiting tools lies. If someone tries to sell you software to simply store and retrieve resumes, ask for a guarantee that you will hire more people. I doubt if they will give it to you. Remember that most resume databases are 90% garbage. Retrieving the resumes from them is not a formula for success. Spend your money on relationship tools, on community building ideas, and focus on software that leads to more hires.

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Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at


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