Where’s the Human Element in Recruiting?

By: Scott Gutz, Chief Executive Officer, Monster

The recruiting industry is at an interesting inflection point. Like every industry, it’s become hyper-focused on data. How do we make more perfect matches between candidates and employers?

That’s a meaty and exciting problem to solve. But as we work toward it, we have to avoid becoming so obsessed with data that we forget the human element. A heavy reliance on tech overlooks the fact that recruiting is ultimately about establishing connections between human beings. Candidates and hiring managers alike are looking for partners who will help them grow long term—and work alongside them collaboratively every day.

This challenge is one of many reasons I was excited to take the CEO role at Monster this summer. Having spent almost 20 years in the travel technology industry—most recently as CEO of Amadeus North America—I’m approaching this opportunity with a fresh perspective while bringing very relevant experience in growing a double-sided marketplace that serves both consumers and businesses.

One thing that’s struck me during my short tenure: In our recent 2018 Monster State of Recruiting survey, 49 percent of recruiters told us that technology has made it harder to make human connections and a whopping 81 percent say recruiters need stronger people skills than ever.

The next generation of HR technology must leverage data and automation without neglecting the human elements necessary to make strong connections.

Making Tech the Heavyweight
Companies like Amazon and Netflix and industries like the one I’ve come from have set expectations to put data and tech first in every interaction. We went from a world in which we sought items in stores to one in which we made requests via search bars to one in which a company anticipates what we need or want before we even know it, all thanks to data.

Those expectations are now being applied to human capital. With the need to fill more roles faster, the days of “show me as many applicants as you can” are over—the focus has shifted to relevancy. Most companies believe some number of searchable elements will find the right candidate: résumé keywords, titles, jobs in specific industries, experience at well-known companies.

In the future, the goal is to make the process even more effective—to develop the anticipation and recommendation engine that comes from having more insight on candidate and employer data. There are countless technologies that could be used toward this end, reducing work early in the process: AI and machine learning, video, verifications and chatbots, among other things.

Fostering a Human Touch
But tools only go so far. They can’t determine who will be the best fit for the organization. And the human connection makes the difference in closing a candidate—how you tell your company’s story, how well you understand what levers are most important to the candidate, and the rapport you build.

Half the recruiting process is attracting candidates with the right level of experience; the other half is determining whether the team in place can successfully interact with them.

Tech is certainly an asset in the first half, which I’ll call “discovery.” In travel, tech helped the discovery process by gathering data to pinpoint what would capture interest: Those who love luxury resort vacations might not respond to a camping excursion but may be thrilled by a yacht tour.

The filtering for the second half of recruiting—which is largely about cultural fit—needs to be enabled by the humans who will work alongside the candidates. The most successful recruiters will emphasize the human while leveraging technology’s value, and the most useful technology will enable human connections.

What’s disappointing is that HR technology investments have been spent overwhelmingly on tools to support the quantitative aspects of discovery without enabling the qualitative aspects of cultural fit.

So let’s think about how we could add human touches to both phases of recruiting. Some could be technology-enabled—for example, making an online job ad come alive with video of a human talking to a human. This would allow recruiters to show a fuller picture and enable candidates to self-select, resulting in higher-quality applications.

Technology could further filter with tools that give candidates more robust profiles of organizations based on factors they care about: performance within the industry, employees who have been successful, or typical schools they recruit from. Consider the effort people put into a one-week vacation: researching locations, comparing hotels, unearthing discounts, reading reviews. People devote hours to gathering as much information as possible to maximize their week away. They often can’t do the same with their careers; the information isn’t available. By making it accessible, recruiters can humanize their brands and help people put as much thought about where they’ll spend years of their life as they do their vacations.

Some cultural fit work will remain rooted in personal experiences. A company could invite two or three team members to provide their backgrounds and describe the work environment: “We’re really fast-paced” or “We prioritize autonomy.” Talking about their experiences, whether they’ve been there six months or 10 years, can help candidates answer their biggest question: Can I be happy here?

The human element of recruiting is how companies make the biggest impact and candidates leave their best impression. While the recruiting process may be built, in part, by robots, it has to be geared toward humans. My goal at Monster will be ensuring we’re building the best experience to help the humans on both sides succeed.