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An Open Letter to the Recruitment Industry — Don’t Dismiss Technology

DATE POSTED:January 12, 2018

I very much doubt those that know me would classify me as a geek, but here is a clue; — “Resistance is Futile”.

As a brief introduction, I am not a recruitment industry veteran. I left a lucrative two decade long career in Financial Markets back in 2013 after I discovered how desperate times were for college graduates looking for jobs that are not plainly visible. I had read an article in Forbes magazine that a full 80% of jobs are not advertised. Some have, probably rightly, gone on to dispute this claim, but a quick look at the U.S. and as most of you know, in July of 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a record high 5.67 million unfilled jobs. As of September 2015 the number had tapered off to 5.53 million. At the same time, unemployment in the U.S. stood at 5%, or roughly 7.9 million. Tapping into my background in economics, this gap in job openings vs unemployment is referred to as the Beveridge Curve named after British economist William Beveridge. Regardless, these numbers indicate to me the huge inefficiencies that exist in the U.S. labor market, a market that can lay claim to having the most sophisticated recruitment industry.

What strikes me as odd is the amount of negativity toward change I see and hear from established industry veterans. As an example let’s take Liz Ryan, CEO and Founder of Human Workplace, described on their website as “the world’s most widely-read and well-respected workplace visionary and thought leader”. Now don’t get me wrong, I truly admire that she has helped an unimaginable number of people with some truly invaluable advice. But when she writes:

“You can’t convey your background and your talents through a keyword-matching system. I can’t wait to see automated recruiting systems slide into the dustbin of history, but in the meantime, if you’re frustrated lobbing applications into Black Hole recruiting portals only to hear nothing back, you’re not alone!”

(Forbes Oct 2015, “Five Job-Search Activities That Don’t Work”)

I can’t quite believe how short sighted this is. In my mind, anyone involved in helping match candidates to jobs is doing a great job. But we have a problem here in that real people are unemployed and desperate for a paycheck just to make ends meet. Whilst I wholeheartedly agree “there will always be a place for humans” (I quote a Michael Page executive at a recent HR industry awards dinner), it is technology that is required to bridge the gap.

I have lived through disruption, having seen trading of stocks and bonds, foreign exchange and derivatives move from trading through microphone and speaker into pits of screaming brokers, to screen trading, and eventually to seeing computers replace humans in the actual trading. Many of those that started out with me in the early 90’s did not survive the financial industry very long. The ones that did, learnt to adapt.

Now I put it to you that any service orientated industry is all about making connections happen, be it connecting buyers to sellers, learners to knowledge, or as in our case, job seekers to jobs. Every service industry has the potential to be disrupted by more efficient technologies that cater to the “Everybody”. We have seen it in the travel space with Airbnb, in transportation with Uber, and we are seeing it happen gradually in education with the proliferation of MOOC’s. To some extent we have seen it take place in recruitment from when Monster.com pioneered online job boards back in the mid-90’s. These days there are a whole host of tools available to us ranging from social media sites like LinkedIn, to information rich sites like Glassdoor, to predictive analytics, SaaS recruitment software, HRIS, HRMS, WBT, CMS, ATS, the list is endless.

I assume we all got into this industry for the same reason, to help match candidates to jobs. This is where it gets interesting: -

Imagine a world where in order to find a quality hire, all you need is your finger. We are way beyond keyboards, Email, Google search, social media here. Imagine a display where you can point and click on menu items that will expand, and you select criteria with a simple point and drag. Select degree type, location, certification, work experience, full time, part time, any criteria you can think of within the legal boundaries of what are, and are not classified as engaging in discriminatory practices. Imagine a results list appear before you, point at a profile, perform a background check, point to see references, point to validate certification, point to view video profile, point to connect, chat, schedule a video interview, point and drag to share profile, discard profile, point to see candidates located in your village, town, city, who are available to interview in the next 10 minutes. You see where I am heading here? Imagine that you can source and screen talent just using your finger, and best of all it cost you nothing but an afternoon. We are not there yet, but this is the not too distant future. It is a future where open jobs are filled within days. Where youth unemployment in Spain at 49% is a thing of the past. How can we not want that?

We cannot wholly blame government on unemployment. Our industry requires a technological revolution. There are already a few players working toward such a future. I am glad to see more and more established agencies making moves.

There will always be room for humans to add value to the hiring process, especially at the top end, Executive Search. But I ask you to not dismiss technology. As an industry we cannot be thinking of an intermediary role filling one job at a time or we will never have a significant impact on reducing unemployment. The role of the intermediary will diminish, guaranteed. As an industry, we need to be working toward a single goal, full employment.

Dean Owen is the Co-Founder of Quimojo, a revolutionary new concept in Global Campus Recruitment. Search, Connect, Chat and Video Interview candidates, all from within a single platform. Currently in Beta, the platform will be ready for hiring companies to use from 1st March, 2015.

Don’t Panic, Just Hire

An Open Letter to the Recruitment Industry — Don’t Dismiss Technology was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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