Your Future as a Recruiter: You Better Know How to Sell, Because Most of What You Do Today Will Be Done By Technology

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 1.11.43 PMIf you are currently a recruiter and you’re worried about your future … I agree, you should be.

Consider a future as a recruiter where sourcing is gone, and so is resume screening and candidate assessment. All that is left for recruiter to do is related to selling candidates, which unfortunately, is something that most corporate recruiters do not excel at.

This shift is occurring partially because recruiting has been a “soft” field since its inception. But finally, recruiting is beginning to follow the pattern that proved so successful in the past on the business side of the enterprise in areas like CRM, marketing, and sales. Recruiting is now finally beginning the inevitable shift to a hard scientific approach, where database decision-making and software technology will literally take over most of the roles currently held by human recruiters. Current recruiters should be aware of this upcoming obsolescence, because there will soon be data to show that much of what they do will soon be done much better, faster, and cheaper by data-driven algorithms and software.

If you are a recruiter and you are involved in sourcing, resume screening, job matching, candidate assessment, or interviewing, you must realize that those parts of your role will soon become as irrelevant as RadioShack and Kodak. But don’t stop going to recruiter conferences and don’t start studying for your real estate license yet, because there will still be corporate recruiters in the future.  Their primary role will be much different and it will be limited to influencing or selling prospects, candidates, and hiring managers. In other words, selling will become the critical competency for a corporate recruiter, much like it has been for third-party executive search for decades.

Why Much of What Corporate Recruiters Do Today Will Be Replaced by Technology

Don’t be caught by surprise by improvements in software and technology that will make much of what corporate recruiters do today obsolete. The recruiting areas that will become less important and obsolete include:

Sourcing — Why sourcing is rapidly becoming irrelevant

With the growth of the Internet, social media, and the widespread adoption of the mobile phone, it is already becoming surprisingly easy to find literally anyone in the world, from hourly workers to executives. Remember that as our privacy decreases, the ability to find people increases proportionately. With that loss of privacy combined with increasingly more accurate search software and the availability of “big data” databases, the term “hidden talent” will eventually fade away. And because of the growth of social media, your employees, as part of your employee referral effort, will be able to find any talent who the software misses. If you’re good at Boolean searches or cold calling, prepare to be declared redundant.

Matching — Why candidate/job matching will no longer be done by humans

If you are a corporate recruiter and you excel at matching top prospects and candidates to the perfect job, be prepared for that job to be done faster, cheaper, and significantly more accurately by software. Matching software that can match kidney donors with the best recipient is a great illustration about how far matching software has come. Software already in development will accurately match applicants to the “right job,” regardless of which job they actually applied for.

Resume screening — Why software will replace recruiters who scan resumes

Even Google, which for years has used humans to scan its millions of resumes from applicants, has finally gathered data showing that software does a superior job of screening. This emerging screening software field goes well beyond traditional ATS resume keyword screening and uses contextual search and the entire Internet to verify resume information and to find everything there is about your background and skill set.

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Candidate assessment — Why software and apps will replace recruiters who have been assessing candidates

If you are a recruiter who has been assessing a candidate’s interest, their fit, or skill level, be prepared to have those duties done by software, apps, or websites. Although online assessment has been around for a while, only recently have the offerings become more accurate and “job related.” Forget the low-value-added personality tests, because now the range of assessments approaches is much broader. It now goes from simple tests, to giving candidates a real problem, to games and contests and finally now with virtual reality simulations. Most assessment will shift to the mobile platform, making them more accessible to potential applicants, candidates, and hiring managers. Adding gamification components will make the assessment more fun for candidates.

Interviewing — Why new technology will make it unnecessary for recruiters to participate in interviewing

Remote live video interviewing have already made it easier to interview at anytime from anywhere. And if these phone app interviews are recorded, there is no need for recruiters to sit in in order to discourage illegal questions. And as more hard data becomes available showing the low predictive value of most traditional interviews, the emphasis will shift away from interviewing of any kind and toward a heavier reliance on online testing and assessment. Taken together, all of this means that recruiters will only occasionally have to be involved in interviewing.

Selling Becomes the Primary Role

The forgotten skills of selling and influencing will become dominant for corporate recruiters — fortunately for recruiters, selling and influencing will become the skill set that can’t be replaced with technology. Most hiring managers, and especially those who hire infrequently, are all too often poor salespeople, so they will continue to rely on recruiters to help them in this critical area. The areas in which selling and influence skills will continue to be critical for corporate recruiters are provided below, with the most important skills listed first.

  • Convincing finalists to accept — obviously nothing really matters if you fail to close your targeted top candidate. In today’s tight job market, candidate closing is already becoming one of the most important recruiter responsibility. Hiring managers simply aren’t good at it, and to make matters worse, they’re not interested in learning more about it. Recruiters will need to use personalized marketing research to identify the “job acceptance criteria” of the targeted finalists and they will have to use their influence to ensure that the hiring manager is flexible enough to meet most of those acceptance criteria.
  • Convincing top not-looking prospects to apply — even though finding top prospects will be easy for your firm, it will also be easy for every other firm. As a result, top prospects who are not in job search mode will be inundated with requests, so it will take a great deal of recruiter skill to even contact them, to build a relationship, and to convince them to actually make an application or to become a referral. Not requiring candidates to supply a resume will help (a LinkedIn profile will be enough to start the process) but recruiters will have to be persuasive if they expect these in demand candidates who are not even looking for a job to find the time to apply.
  • Convincing top candidates to stay until the end of the hiring process — in-demand candidates seldom make it to the end of any painful or drawn-out hiring process. So if corporations continue to tolerate slow hiring processes and bad candidate experiences, it will be up to recruiters to coach and convince top candidates to remain in the hiring process until the very end.
  • Influencing managers to focus on recruiting — even with all the technology improvements, hiring managers will still likely be reluctant to devote a lot of their time to recruiting and interviewing. So it will remain the recruiter’s job to develop ways to successfully influence hiring managers to adhere to the hiring process and to make data-based decisions fast.
  • Market research to understand the prospects who you are trying to sell — you simply won’t be able to sell in-demand prospects if you don’t know where they will see a recruiting message or if you don’t know precisely what must be in that message in order to garner their interest. Therefore it is critical for recruiters to be able to conduct market research or to apply the market research done by others, in order to do an effective job of reaching and selling top prospects who are not actively looking for a job and candidates that applied at your firm.
  • Selling prospects on the company through viral employer branding — candidates today rely on the employer for only 20 percent of the information that they gather when looking to apply for roles (CEB, 2014). So with so many other authentic sources being used, it will be more difficult to control and manage your employer brand image. Recruiters will be able to make a contribution by encouraging employees to say positive things about the firm on the Internet and in social media.

Final Thoughts

Many recruiters are similar to HR people, they simply don’t like hearing about change, and they certainly don’t want to change themselves. But the fact is that enough data-driven technologists have recently taken interest in the recruiting process to the point where real progress is being made. Unfortunately for recruiters, that means the end to most sourcing, screening, job matching, and candidate assessment. So if you expect to be a recruiter for a long time, the time is now to place your learning emphasis on how to sell. Unfortunately, if you look at most recruiting conferences and publications, you won’t find a single mention of the “how-tos” of selling in the recruiting space.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on He lives in Pacifica, California.



30 Comments on “Your Future as a Recruiter: You Better Know How to Sell, Because Most of What You Do Today Will Be Done By Technology

  1. Most agency recruiters are taught to sell, and more internal teams are looking for recruiters with an agency background. Currently there is no tool that accurately aggregates all of the free data on the internet, and social networks are restricting what these tools can scrape. I recruit IT candidates, and I have seen a trend of candidates removing themselves from professional social media and increasing the security on their personal social media profiles to avoid recruiters. Also, Boomer retirement is looming. Yes, they are delaying retirement. However, in the next 10-15 years many Boomers will have no choice but to retire because they will be 79-84 years old. That is going to create a crisis, and so your predictions may never come to fruition. Most companies will not have the luxury to “post and pray” and let technology do all the work for them. There will be a war for talent, and recruiters will be more relevant than today.

    1. “Most agency recruiters are taught to sell, and more internal teams are looking for recruiters with an agency background.”

      True on both counts, but I’ve seen most companies fail at this approach for several reasons. One, corporate recruiters most certainly do not occupy a sales role. They get pulled into too much internal company process to support that. Two, they often don’t get commissions or bonuses, at least most of the ones I’ve seen and met don’t. Three, one of the reasons corporate recruiters like their jobs is because they’re not sales. They like a more strategic, inside position, as opposed to the continual sales! grind. Four, corporate recruiting is not agency recruiting. At an IT agency for example you always need help desk people, networking people, project managers, etc. A corporate recruiter has no need for such a robust pipeline unless the company is growing exponentially, otherwise what the hell is causing all that turnover? The ROI on time invested in pipeline building is far less attractive for corporate recruiters, whereas it’s usually a must have for agency recruiters.

      So, what’s more likely to happen is agencies will take over the sourcing aspect, because as you correctly state there will be a reaction on the part of people who don’t necessarily want to be ‘sourced.’ Plus agencies will get greater ROI and continuous use out of such solutions, whereas as a company’s size and hiring needs decrease, it will far less attractive for them to invest in such solutions rather than just relying on agencies when needed.

      And none of this addresses the root problem of having to sell a turd. The average company is average, and half measure up as less than average, and the ones who need help recruiting generally aren’t the top level companies. They are the mediocre to lower level ones who can’t attract people, and the basic underlying question is: will they face the fact that the fabulous five percent recruiters always bluster about don’t want to work for them, and as a provider of employment will they improve their product offering, or continue to expect people to work for peanuts and a kick in the ass when they’re done with them?

  2. Some truth to this, but the deeper question is why is it always so necessary to ‘sell’ people… on hiring a good candidate that they need, or working for a company and compensation that was previously agreed to?Assuming the most advanced software packages possible now, eventually companies will have to face the fact that their ‘top prospects’ don’t want to work for them, for any number of reasons, but usually pay, hours, commute, and overall treatment and company reputation. Also, this author’s posting tend to be biased towards a mega corporation context, while the majority of businesses in the US at least are small to medium sized companies. Many barely have an HR system of any kind beyond a spreadsheet. I find it doubtful they will have access to Cyberdyne terminator level recruiting solutions, or quite frankly even want them.

  3. Yes, I agree that we can automate many of the transactional activities of a recruiter, but why does everyone automatically then push the recruiting function into “sales” or “marketing” in order for them to stay relevant? This shows a bias toward agency recruiting.

    I contend that the recruiting function should lean into HR and become more closely aligned to it. Lead (or at least participate in) workforce planning. Establish the strategic needs of your company in terms of knowledge, skills, ability and diversity. Partner with (or heck, take from) Compensation all those competency model projects most companies seem to work on every other year. Recruiters are the one facet of HR that most hiring managers will most frequently interact with, so instead of running fro HR, become more proficient in it. To me, that’s the best way to maintain your relevancy.

    1. “[W]hy does everyone automatically then push the recruiting function into ‘sales’ or ‘marketing’ in order for them to stay relevant?”

      Because it’s the agencies that are most threatened by this. And, being the consummate sales! people they are, they head off their redundancy by reiterating how much you would need them then, more than ever!

      HR is more often than not the barrier for agency recruiters. Sometimes this is because of incompetence, sometimes it’s for very good reasons, but HR is always the bane of every agency recruiter’s existence. Therefore, they would never consider leaning more toward HR as a solution. Personally, I agree with you. I see corporate recruiting becoming a more specialized function and being more on board with HR.

  4. “If you’re good at Boolean searches or cold calling, prepare to be declared redundant.” I’d be curious what ere has to say about this, seeing as they fully benefit from us sourcers attending SourceCon.

  5. Does this mean because of technology in future we will have titles like “HR Sales” or “Resource Sales” OR “HR Business Partner – Sales” which would be very confusing. Does it also mean recruiters who do not learn to sell will not be able to survive in the recruiting industry?

    technologies are good to keep track on the candidate , interview performance, availability for next job etc, however I am not too convinced with idea about using technology for sourcing or screening.

    Recruiter need to be sales person but if you cannot do that then branding your company should come handy.

  6. There is probably some truth to this article however I do believe
    there will continue to be a need/demand for old school research to uncover and deliver competitive intelligence, market research and to find those potential candidates missed by the technology.

  7. As someone in the job matching-candidate assessment space, I welcome the adoption of technology and innovation.

    Based on surveys of job candidates, one lesson that I think recruiters can take from sales is the concept of customer service. I’ve had multiple recruiters reach out to me for a job opening or request for a referral (with a long, detailed email, I might add!) and when I reply with advice or a qualifying question, I never hear from them again. Not even a perfunctory “Thanks.” Closing the loop with people can go a long way in making a good impression.

  8. From my experience in sourcing/recruiting, the single most important function is having a strategy which aligns candidates with your business profile and the ability to “stock” talent pools in advance, I don’t see computer automation of these functions as the next big thing because computers are simply not that nuanced. Technology may be an aid in sourcing to find the right candidates based on inputs, but S/R are still human functions. Perhaps this will change with the advent of more than AI in the recruiting functions.
    Incredibly, most companies don’t realize, yet, that being able to sell is a big part of the strategy in terms of how the work force planning,messages of branding and talent acquisition. If there is an aspect of sales people that addresses this, it is how good sales personnel effectively plan and set goals. Selling is somehow looked at negatively by companies when it’s the basis for their existence.

    Most successful recruiters KNOW how to sell. Those who think it’s not important (and it’s the vast majority of them) which explains high turnover rates at staffing firms and corporate levels. Believe it or not a Deloitte research study said that it wasn’t grades in college, where you went to college or how many years you spent at a job that made you successful, rather it was quantifiable accomplishments.
    The study also identified the two professions that are and have been most successful in recruiting: Car and real estate sales.

  9. I see and appreciate many of your points here, but also predict almost exactly the opposite force of recruiting nature. A dear friend explained it to me well: there are many factors that create a future model. For example, if you look at the initial starting point of a hurricane, and the hundreds of paths it can take, they all vary based on a multitude of drivers.
    I think tech and automation will be a huge asset in all industries, enabling all categories to move faster, accelerating growth, and hopefully eventually allowing us to no longer do “more with less” as we do today.
    Heads of Talent/People will be entrepreneurial leaders with creative and experiential ideas and true thought leadership. “Recruiters” may turn into what we deem Account Managers, but the actual role of a human can’t be replaced because Candidate Experience is essential to hiring like Disneyland is essential to most people’s childhood.
    And the sourcing function will prevail. Finding people will be absolutely necessary, more difficult because resumes will be obsolete and so sourcers will be in high demand. New social networks, new apps, new communities, new *things we haven’t thought of yet* will need to be tapped into, and sourcers, not recruiters will have to find backdoors into these pools (especially with the 40% decrease of talent we’re about to come upon as talent jumps into the consulting and freelancing world). We will add marketing and data science functions to our teams and be even more essential departments and not “sell” but “operate”. Selling seems so cheap for what we have at our fingertips within the next 5-10 years.
    I will spare you from the rest of my manifesto, but if you imagine what “perfect storm” might be coming with driverless cars, collaborative labor platforms, sharing economy continued growth, personalized medication, the #futureofwork (see le web for more) – it might just take a different path than completely taking out recruiting.
    It just might in fact make our profession more well renowned and respected. I think I’ll stick with that model.

  10. I agree technology will increase the efficiency of the recruitment process.
    What technology can never do is establish a candidate’s potential and their desire to succeed. A seasoned professional recruiter (read: human to human interaction) builds a relationship with their candidates.

    Technology and big data informs. Those who loose sight of the human factor will continue to make poor hiring decisions.

  11. As HR becomes more and more integrated (through technology of course), lines will blur. Need to fill a role? Well, let’s check our succession
    plans. Or maybe our internal AND external talent pools. At some point,
    the lines between Talent Management and Talent Acquisition will be
    erased completely. When that happens, what will a typical “recruiter”
    do? How would this new fangled recruiting “sales person,” with little to no knowledge in HR, respond? Would they be able to understand the
    workforce plan and how to interpret nBox data to accurately enable human capital management?

    This is why I always question all these people (mostly agency folks) who look at “recruiting” as a function separate from HR, who may even align it with marketing. After years of speculating, the integrated management of an employee’s full end to end lifecycle (starting even with the creation of a position, an event that happens PRIOR to a person even being identified) is finally crystallizing, whether you agency recruiters like it or not.

  12. As long as companies and their corporate recruiters do a rubbish job at selling their own roles to the market, there will always be a need for agency recruiters. The amount of selling I have to do (I’m agency) on behalf of inept HR departments is shocking. For example, a company will ask me to sell their organization, culture, benefits etc. Sure, no problem – that’s what I do. Then I ask the company to send me their benefits package info. and 50% of the time I am told, “We only reveal this information once a candidate has accepted an offer”. How the hell can I sell your benefits if you won’t tell me what they’re all about? How can I do a comparison of the candidate’s current package without knowing what yours are all about?

    This is just one example of HR nonsense and I could go on for hours with numerous examples as to how HR is a business impediment rather than an enabler. Right now I am dealing with a client who will be flying in a candidate for an interview (I keep tabs on candidates when they fly in to town to make sure they arrive safely, help with directions, etc). I asked them for a copy of the travel itinerary only to be told, “if you want these details, get them from your candidate”. It’s ridiculous.

    Sadly, many companies’ HR groups possess the mentality that candidates should be privileged to even secure an interview with them, let alone a job. Furthermore, many willfully ignore – or just don’t understand – that there are many occasions when their compensation plans are not competitive. I work in one of the country’s hottest IT market where salaries are rising at a rapid clip. Ergo, you have to pay to play if you want the best talent but HR groups refuse to engage with their internal business units and provide counsel as to what the market is doing. The result being that positions go unfilled for long periods of time and/or they hire sub-par candidates.

    As long as HR continues to p1ss in its own chips, there will always be a need for people like me and the hefty fees I charge. It’s sad, as there is no “secret sauce” to what I do and they could save a ton of money in fees (in addition to a lower cost per hire, improved candidate quality, improved retention, etc.) if they got of their high horse and played the game the right way. So, thanks HR for being inept and continuing to make me relevant.

    Rant over and apologies if I’ve hurt the feelings of the corporate HR peeps. I do love you really. Well, some of you…..

    1. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Especially about the pay issue, I’m in NY and pay in Manhattan is really good, but companies five miles out in Connecticut and Queens and Jersey think they can cut salaries by 30-50% and still get people, meanwhile the commute is often even longer to these places.

      I’ve got a client right now looking for someone with, shall we say, a highly desirable skill set. The people I’m seeing are averaging 150K, and what are they offering? 100K for a TOP tier candidate. Anyone else, less. They’ve been trying to fill this position for over a year, my boss periodically comes back to it because the client is a good biller on other positions, and it just keeps going ’round and ’round.

      And on sites like and LinkedIn, we are constantly barraged by articles and blog posts about how pay really doesn’t matter, it’s all about ‘engagement’ and ‘job satisfaction.’ And those articles are usually written by CEOs or their cronies, people who are either in or close to the top 1% wealthiest in the US, forget about relative wealth compared to the rest of the planet, and they are routinely fawned over by HR and recruiter types with comments about how ‘inspiring’ their post was, like some twit cross-fit chick who just got a great quinoa recipe from their Twitter idol. Until this profession and its HR counterpart take themselves seriously and stop acting like clueless jackasses, no else will take us seriously. The BS about salaries has to stop. PRICE MATTERS. Deal with it.

      1. Woof! Great comment and I could not agree more. Many companies (not all) have drank their own Kool-Aid and expect that folks would love to join their company even if the compensation is 20% below market. “But our environment is unique!”….”Our benefits are great [NOTE: very rarely]….”Our people make us different…” and so on. Newsflash – it’s all bollocks.

        Here’s the harsh reality. People don’t work because they want to – they work because they have to. Unless you’re lucky/brave enough to run your own shop, we all work for The Man and are, in the final analysis, exchanging labor for wages. We all do different jobs but our goals in life are pretty the same – make some cash, raise the kids, pay the mortgage, keep the spouse happy, save some money for retirement, etc. and, hopefully, get out of the workforce as fast as we can. Sure, we want to be happy in our jobs but at the end of the day, a job is merely a means to an end.

        This being the case, when it comes to compensation all this talk about culture, company picnics, team building days, daily Nerf gun fights, etc., is nice an’ all, but it’s no substitute for cash, the promise of a decent bonus and benefits that don’t suck. If you, Mr. Employer, don’t accept and manage to this reality, the quality of your hires will suck, attrition rates will be high and your ability to grow as a company will be severely hampered. Simples.

        1. “This being the case, when it comes to compensation all this talk about culture, company picnics, team building days, daily Nerf gun fights, etc., is nice an’ all, but it’s no substitute for cash, the promise of a decent bonus and benefits that don’t suck. If you, Mr. Employer, don’t accept and manage to this reality, the quality of your hires will suck, attrition rates will be high and your ability to grow as a company will be severely hampered. Simples.”

          Yup. And the sad fact of the matter is barely anyone in our profession will ever acknowledge this fact. Because The Client doesn’t want to hear it, so despite The Client‘s massive disconnect from reality, we proceed, because our profession is run by Sales! people who themselves have very little grasp on reality, and have little to no sensitivity to obvious negatives, red flags, and sources of opportunity cost.

    2. Believe me, I understand (and agree with) most of what you’re saying. I’ve seen enough bad behavior from all ilk of recruiters, both agency and internal. However, I also think you’re providing evidence for what I just stated. Most of your salary complaints stem not from Talent Acquisition but usually from two other places:

      1) Hiring Managers
      2) Compensation.

      By moving Talent Acquisition further into HR, incorporating it into groups like Comp to provide more insight that a typical salary survey wouldn’t normally provide, an organization can get that holistic view to push things forward. (And then they can get to work on moving Finance along too.)

      Secondly, we’re all making the assumptions that the high dollar candidates are the ones organizations actually need. Better data (yes, derived from technology) using mature competency models may show that these people may not be the best hires at all. In other words, are graduate degrees (or any college degree) necessary for certain jobs? Do we really need 10+ years experience for certain roles? Are others’ (i.e., cheaper) skills transferable? Quite frankly, the state of Talent still isn’t to the point where we can make these judgments and so we continue to tread down the same path.

      However, I see a point in the future where job data, candidate data, and search data are mature enough to make these assessments. When that happens, HR should be able to address some of the shortsightness that sticks in your craw. Of course when we get to that point, recruiters will also need to learn to redefine their roles as well.

      1. “Most of your salary complaints stem not from Talent Acquisition but usually from two other places:
        1) Hiring Managers
        2) Compensation.”

        Most companies don’t have a compensation department. More often than not they just have an ‘HR’ department, which is itself often just an admin assistant who handles payroll, maybe two or three people if the company is big enough to need some help on benefits and 401k, etc. That’s it. Hiring managers are the source of most of the disconnect, as well as senior management which is typically older guys, usually white guys, who think since they started at a quarter an hour back in the fifties, that should still be just fine. When I started doing salary surveys before we approved positions in my last job, they almost crapped themselves seeing the difference between what they thought a position was worth vs what actual market research said it paid in the area.

        What you mention about the high dollar candidates misses the point. Yes, ‘elitist’ companies have those problems, but the majority of companies in the US are small to medium sized companies. They are not thinking about ivy league degrees, they are simply saying they need someone to do X, Y, or Z, and whatever that person’s qualifications or where they got their degree, the company is only willing to pay say 50K, when in fact those people earn 80K to 100K on the market. That’s the problem. They are quite often completely disconnected from reality on what salaries are on the market. And often when they are demanding top people for top dollar, they can’t keep them, because they’re version of top dollar isn’t the market’s version.

        Or, and this is way more common in my experience, it’s a troubled company with archaic rules and policies, crap pay, management, and treatment across the board, but they want the ivy leaguer as an example of The Right Kind Of Person. They think hiring them will magically change the company into a good place to work. They put the cart before the horse, and don’t understand that you have to be good enough to attract those people if you want them. You don’t get them first, they have to want to come to you, so the pay, benefits, opportunity, and class act management largely need to be there already UNLESS the person is coming in there specifically to build that. And then, more often than not, they’ll hit a brick wall because existing management won’t want to change what needs to be changed, and they’ll leave anyway. I’ve seen that happen dozens upon dozens of times in my career, which is only 12 years at this point.

        1. Re: the high $ candidates, I think you’re coming at it from the opposite direction I’m coming from. Yes, it’s going to be a problem if a company only want to say, pay $50k for an existing Python developer who is making $90k in the market. What I’m saying is that with better data (and predictive analytics), it could be that you wouldn’t have to recruit that person to begin with. Maybe they’ve got skills that can generalize and ramp up on Python more quickly.

          Or maybe these minimal quals that, quite frankly aren’t usually based on any truly valid job analyses, have constrained the search so much that the only people left in the pool are high dollar. I’ve seen companies, of varying sizes, want an MBA for a particular position for some reason or another. When challenged “why?” there usually isn’t a good answer.

          However, until empirical data exist, beyond the anecdotal, it’s hard to put together the business case for taking these “chances” on expanding the talent pools to include these possible cheaper folks.

          1. I see your point, and I agree with most of it, but the underlying problem is the decision makers. Improve the process all you want, if you have the same lousy decision makers in charge you just get the same bad results, only quicker. Because even if you are able to increase the pool of eligible candidates, the fact remains that the skill set you’re looking for commands a certain salary. Once that ‘chance’ is trained up, s/he’s worth more and knows it, and so, turnover occurs.

  13. One more thing. There is something which technology can’t replace – my own network and relationships. To paraphrase T.S. Elliot, there is a difference between Information and Knowledge. Google may have access to more information than I do, but it does not have my nous. Take that, Silicon Valley.

  14. Good souring is more than just running a Boolean search
    and finding keyword matches.

    It is also about identifying candidates based on cultural
    fit & identifying candidates where the opportunity represents a true
    “next step.” Good sourcing avoids wasted time spending time with
    candidates that are not cultural fits.

  15. Like many of you, I agree with some of the points in this article. However, I think that it is shortsighted to define all recruiters in a similar fashion. I think a lot recruiters will become obsolete not because of technology, but because frankly they are not evolving and advancing their craft. If sourcing was that easily remedied by technology, then why are agencies thriving and internal recruiting more popular than ever? I think that our job is evolving, and to be that is just plain exciting.

    I think a lot of it also has to do with the kind of recruiting you are doing. What will be easier to replace with technology?: A junior recruiter who staffs temporary admin candidates OR a niche focused technology, clinical or finance recruiter with a hard earned and healthy network of candidates. The former obviously. And often times, technology can often make less desirable candidates more accessible, while top talent is hidden in plain sight. Anyone can put their resume on Monster and apply for any job, but that is exactly who usually applies to your job despite maybe not even being remotely a fit for the role. Top talent knows this, and typically are only accessible through value added relationship building.

    1. “Anyone can put their resume on Monster and apply for any job, but that is exactly who usually applies to your job despite maybe not even being remotely a fit for the role. Top talent knows this, and typically are only accessible through value added relationship building.

      Where is the evidence for this? It sounds like another piece of recruiter lore with its roots in passive candidates are better! because… because… because… well no objectively testable or provable reason, really. And while every recruiter on the planet claims to be the recruiter to trust and who calls everyone in a timely manner and has a network extending from their home base clear across the planet and back and into every profession known to man, people’s reported experiences with recruiters seem to indicate the majority of us aren’t quite on the level.

      I say at base ‘top talent’ is no different from mediocre talent or bad talent. They have similar motivations and needs, and while every recruiter on the planet would prefer people not know this, top talent sometimes don’t like their current jobs and decide to – gasp! – apply elsewhere, or network their way in to another role. Or, in other words, they actively seek another role. I’m personal friends with a woman who is top of her profession, she’s routinely invited to speak at conferences, she’s brilliant. And every job she’s had over the course of the more than 15 years I’ve known her has been purposely sought out and even applied to via an online portal. That makes her active when she’s looking, and she’s easy to find and contact online, and yet somehow she still manages to be great at her job.

      This is yet more nonsense recruiters need to drop. Even if your or I can find top talent, we are not necessary to find top talent.

      1. I agree with a lot of your objections, but I guess we all have different opinions on how to do our job. I do agree that we are not necessary to find top talent, but I doubt that technology can replace a good recruiter. I know things will change and are changing, and I look forward to embracing and evolving.

      2. The idea that candidates not actively seeking employment on Dice and Monster are better than those who are is probably true statistically, but not because top talent willfully doesn’t post on Monster or Dice because they know it puts them in league with their less talented brethren. It’s probably because top talent spends less time being “available” because they are hired faster. I think anyone who is smart and looking for a job or a new job will put their resumes on Dice and Monster. I was a contract software developer for decades and I can tell you that this is the case.

  16. The technology is here, it’s called Placed. uses technology to match top sales and business talent with top companies.

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