I read with interest last week that Google plans to give LinkedIn a run for its money by introducing a dedicated jobs search engine – Google for Jobs. Good. The changes LinkedIn has made this year to its user interface have frustrated and disengaged many of its users who have been loyal since the early days. I appreciate the fact that LinkedIn’s parent company Microsoft will be looking to optimise revenues wherever possible, but with so many of its useful features now removed, it somehow looks and feels as if LinkedIn might have peaked as a business networking tool. So perhaps it’s high time another party came along to mix things up a bit.
According to Wired, Google for Jobs has leveraged Machine Learning technology to better sort search results, and, more interestingly, better categorise the types of jobs searched for. This is precisely what job hunters need, I think – previously the Internet has thrown up, at best, tenuous responses to job search criteria. Even some of the job boards have struggled with this, in my opinion. Forbes has also written that Google for Jobs is building a ‘job family taxonomy’ – essentially, a way of aggregating similar job titles into ‘job families’, thus creating a far easier and relevant search output for the aspiring job seeker. Based on Google’s track record, I’m hopeful that they’ll nail it and I’m excited to see what the offering yields, once it launches here in the UK.
This development leads me to a wider discussion point. It’s been my observation for some time that the recruitment industry is in urgent need of an overhaul. Frankly, the last time something truly transformative happened was when RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) arrived in the late 1990s. Whilst various iterations of RPO have since popped up, there has, I feel, not been much in the way of innovation.
And yet within the recruitment sector, ‘user experience’ appears increasingly negative, with both candidates and clients openly sharing stories of frustration on social media. At the candidate end, recruitment seems generically to be a highly frustrating transactional process where the biggest bugbear is a lack of feedback and even barebones simple human engagement. Stories of ineffective communication are rife – super frustrating when most will agree changing jobs is up there as one of the more stressful human experiences. Clients, on the other hand, often complain about being deluged by irrelevant CVs, the lack of effective candidate screening and the sheer frustration of being hounded relentlessly by recruiters as soon as a vacancy crops up.
Frey and Osbourne’s 2013 Future of Employment report listed jobs that are highly routine or repetitive (such as those most tightly bound by process) as those most vulnerable to automation. For my money, recruitment absolutely falls into this category, and with the rise of Machine Learning, technology will eventually be able to match candidates to their ideal roles far more accurately than many recruiters – with limited specialist knowledge – ever could. Automation has the potential to transform the recruitment sector, cutting through unnecessary layers of process and providing a much-improved service at both ends of the transaction.
This said, it’s important to recognise that the human element of recruitment will still remain a vital component. It takes innate levels of cognitive and emotional awareness to accurately match a candidate’s intangible wants and needs to the values and culture of a potential employer.
Whilst we think technology has the potential to significantly streamline the recruitment sector, those recruiters and head-hunters with good old-fashioned strong communication skills will thrive. As much as technology will cut through unnecessary layers of process to improve efficiency, ‘user experience’ and ultimately ROI, as humans we’re innately programmed to crave contact and connection, and for this reason alone, recruitment as an industry sector will need to retain many ‘human’ characteristics. Certainly, I wholeheartedly attribute the success of my recruitment years to my ability to build relationships at both client and candidate end – an ability which was, for me, underpinned by my underlying interest in ensuring the best long-term outcome for all parties involved in the transaction.
This is great news for recruiters who’ve long felt frustrated and undermined by the lack of ‘quality’ in the profession, for candidates who’ve felt marginalised by the recruitment process, as well as by clients who ultimately very simply want someone to understand what skills they’re looking for and to deliver them.
As we transition towards an age of increasing self-employment, successful recruiters will need, more than ever, to build candidate ‘ecosystems’, knowing exactly where and when relevant industry specialists are to be found. To do this, they’ll need to acquire in-depth knowledge of their niche areas, and commit to building long-term relationships based on trust, transparency and authenticity. I suspect the highly sought-after specialists in each niche area won’t accept any less than this (and why should they? With highly sought-after skills, they’ll be able to pick and choose whom they collaborate with).
Having strong EQ skills will be crucial to recruiter success. Whilst dramatic transformation is on the recruitment horizon, we believe those recruiters with the right levels of EQ will thrive. And so they should – recruitment is, after all, all about connecting humans to humans.
Cat’s recruitment career has furnished her with fascinating insights into how people behave in the workplace, particularly in response to change. She has a deep interest in human behaviour, organisational psychology and helping business leaders create sustainable, ethical and values-based working environments.