Recruiters or Robots?

Posted 23rd Nov 2015

If you’ve ever read the work of a futurologist (and this is a pre-pandemic article by the way), or watched one of those TV programmes about what the future holds for planet earth, it would seem that in the distance lies a soulless world, filled only with artificial intelligence and automatons. Some pessimists claim humans will be obsolete in the next few decades. Bleak stuff. We prefer the optimist futurologists! Okay, that might be taking it a little too far, but the inclusion of robots into our everyday lives has been evolving over the last few decades and looks likely to continue to do so at an ever greater pace. We already have robot vacuum cleaners, fridges that order food for you, automated coffee makers, and in Japan, they have started to employ robot helpers for those who need a little extra care around the home. Autonomous machines, computer programmes and other forms of artificial intelligence that assume functions previously undertaken by humans have become ever more prevalent in our everyday lives.

For instance, it can be argued that purely online recruitment platforms, or basically computers, are starting to assume the role a human recruiter would do when a job seeker registers with an agency seeking their next job or career move. It’s a simple example, but it’s just one of many where technology is automating human tasks, but is it for the better? The question for us is, as technology develops rapidly, where will it end for recruiters and our great profession?

So back to the not too distant future….there are automated assessments for critical thinking, design, communication, teamwork, personality profiling, problem solving, cognitive assessments…the list is endless. Apps have one-click job applications, video interviewing is moving away from the live-streaming model and hiring mangers get busier. Phone calls rarely happen, Email is formal, Messenger is preferred and technology slowly usurps the pleasure of real conversation.

Fantastic, so there’s plenty of technology available and certainly more to be developed, but with each development, the role of the recruiter slowly erodes, our function withering until there’s only a screen for you to interface with. No more handshakes, only assessments. Your suitability for a position is now based solely on your attaining an undisclosed score. Your fate is in the hands of noughts and zeros. You manage to attain the secret, magic number and the job is yours. Another string of noughts and zeros generates an email with a link that you must click within 48 hours to accept the position. You click. Another email arrives inviting you to meet your new boss. You quietly despair at the state of the world. This is the future and it’s bleak.

Okay, it might not become quite as dystopian as '1984' and besides we, for the most part, welcome technology and is relentless advancement, but one thing is quite clear we feel: the world needs and will still need recruiters. Yes, we perhaps get a bad press sometimes, but our people skills are, and should be, essential. Recruiters can quickly create intimate, personal bonds and with a ten minute telephone call, get to know more about your personal circumstances and motivations than most of your friends. Recruiters are adept at developing relationships, of nurturing people, of being able to highlight your strengths and work on your weaknesses.

More than this, a recruiter is a buffer, the one that plays good cop and bad cop to negotiate the best deal for both hirer and future employee alike. They’re diplomats, but above everything, they’re human. They have the ability to empathise and sympathise, the ability to understand and relate to fellow humans. What they aren’t are noughts and zeros. And this is the key - only a human can relate to another human and in the vital, yet incredibly sensitive, process of sourcing and recruiting, only a human can truly assess the true measure of another person.

So the future looks bright for recruiters! It may be possible to use an algorithm or two to identify candidates, but it takes a human to assess a human. Automation, artificial intelligence, and clever programming can never take away the trained, judgmental eye of an experienced recruiter.

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

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