SHRM’s Roy Maurer looks at a recent survey from the American Staffing Association (a staffing industry lobbying group), which shows that most job candidates in the US would prefer to interact personally with prospective employers rather than undergo a fully automated recruiting process:
Over three-fourths (77 percent) of 1,000 respondents who have searched for a job in the past five years or who intend to do so soon said they prefer human interaction when job hunting, according to a survey from the American Staffing Association (ASA). The survey also found that the top way candidates actually land a job is via the “high touch” method of word-of-mouth (43 percent), followed by job board websites, employer careers sites and internal contacts at the prospective employer (all at 30 percent). Four in 10 respondents reported using an employment agency or staffing firm during the job search.
“A combination of technology and personal contacts is the winning strategy while on the job hunt,” said Richard Wahlquist, president and CEO of the ASA. “Even with all of the recent advances in Web-based job sourcing, some things never change. Your network of friends, former colleagues and family members still might be the key to your finding your ideal job.”
Human interaction is a critical component of the job search, said Jim Caporrimo, regional vice president for Adecco Staffing USA, based in the New York City area, “largely because it helps build trust between the candidate and the recruiter,” he said. To successfully complete the job-search process, candidates “must trust that their recruiter understands their needs and genuinely cares about their personal career journey.”
This makes a lot of sense, if you think about how hiring processes based on human interactions or automated systems send different signals.
Just as recruiters and college admissions officers know that if all someone has to do to apply is submit a resume or a common application online, they’re not necessarily that invested in their application, job seekers know that if a recruiter is merely posting a resume-drop application on an online job board, they’re not going out of their way to make an exceptional hire. For any person working outside the home, colleagues can have a really big impact on their lives, for better or worse. Job seekers want to feel like their prospective employer cares about the people they hire, so recruiters who are not very invested in the process are more likely to recruit less invested candidates.
People are spending more and more time on computers and completing tasks with automated processes, and while this is convenient for finishing a list of to-dos, it has been proven time and again that automation cannot replace human contact in the ability to make people happy and engaged. While posting job openings on the internet is critical to granting access to a larger pool of people, and while introducing some automated steps into the process can help combat hiring bias, candidates still want that human touch.
Employers might consider making applications more personalized, with a question or two that would allow candidates to show their personalities and personal values. This could help recruiters make more informed decisions about whom to interview, so that candidates aren’t accepted or rejected simply as a set of credentials. If companies want to hire engaged employees, they should make an effort to engage them while trying to bring them on board.