This is a rebuttal post to an article on Forbes.com by Liz Ryan titled “How Technology Killed Recruiting“. For those of you who don’t Liz she is a media personality who use to work in HR back in 1997 for Fortune 500 companies, which might speak to her viewpoints about recruiting and technology. Liz writes a ton of HR and Recruiting type articles for publications that wouldn’t give me the time of day (Forbes, Huffington Post, Harvard Business Review, etc.), so clearly she is respected. That is why I decided to react to her article. She has a huge stage and gets thousands of clicks, so I was perplexed at this attack on corporate recruiting that really has no true basis in 2014.
Liz feels that Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) have killed recruiting. She feels all corporate recruiters do is set a never-ending string of hoops for applicants to jump through, until they are eventually lost in the black hole of a corporate recruiting abyss. I do think this thought process has merit, 10-15 years ago. When ATS software first came onto the market they were clearly selling to the corporate HR marketplace. I can clearly remember sitting in process meetings with ATS vendors and having them show us (corporate HR) how they could make our life easier. Need more screening of applicants? No problem we can put them through the ropes and only the best will get through! Then they show you a process flow chart with 67 steps and the rest was history – Liz’s story above.
Today, ATS vendors look at the process completely different (Note: I don’t sell ATS software now, or ever! But I have purchased and implemented 5 systems in my career.). Now, corporate HR needs the ATS to provide talent fast. It’s about fewer clicks – how does an applicant let you know they have interest in “1” step, not 67. Once the talent is ‘sourced’, corporate recruiting can then take them through as many filters as needed to ensure a great hire is made. This is fairly common practice in the last 10 years of ATS implementations. Can you still find companies that don’t get this? Yes. But it’s not the norm in corporate recruiting with today’s ATS. Dare I say ATS vendors asked to set up a 67 step process would probably back out of the deal and refer that customer to their competition, because that will not be a customer you will ever make happy!
Here is why Liz and those who support her argument still carry around this notion of an ATS being a ‘black hole’ for your resume (BTW – I’m wondering when the last time Liz even applied for a job online?). Candidates make excuses when they are not chosen. “I applied! And I was perfect for ‘that’ job! But I never heard back.” I know this because I’ve been the leader of corporate recruiting departments in the last 10 years. I’ve heard this exact line coming from the cousin of our CEO. I then had to show our CEO, in fact, three carefully crafted communications that his cousin received from our ATS system as the hiring processes proceeded over two weeks.
Technology hasn’t killed recruiting. Technology has decreased the time it takes HR to recruit great talent. Technology has increased our retention rates and decreased new hire turnover by giving us better data on which to base our hiring decisions. Technology has allowed recruiting to be brand ambassadors to our organizations. Technology has allowed most corporate recruiting departments to do ten times more, with the exact same staff it had 10 years ago. Technology has allowed our employees to be an integral part of our recruiting function by automating employee referral programs. Technology has increased applicant response times by showing us exactly who in our organizations is holding up the process. Technology has allowed us to fish in candidate pools that, previously, were never possible. Technology moved recruitment out of HR and into one of the most valuable functions an organization can have.
If people are your most important resource. Your organizations ability to recruit talent, becomes critical to your organizations success. Technology help do that for recruiting. But I don’t write for Forbes, so what do I know.