(Above is the original job advert that attracted Sally Bibb to join The Economist in 1996.)

Engaging Minds sponsored The FIRM (Forum for In-House Recruitment Managers) event in Manchester this week. You’re reading the second blog post in a series inspired by presentations and conversations from the day.

Do you remember the days when, to apply for a job, you answered an advert in the paper (possibly writing a cover letter by hand… imagine that!), and you received a letter or a phone call inviting you to interview?

This way of doing things had its disadvantages for recruiters: I remember squinting over piles of hard-to-read applications. Certainly, for popular jobs that attracted a lot of applicants, it could be an inefficient process. But the big plus, both for me as the recruiter and for the candidates, was that I always had some form of personal contact with them.

With the explosion in the use of technology in all aspects of recruitment, from automated sifting to video interviewing, we now have efficiency, yes. But, has it gone too far?

It’s considered normal to see, on a company’s website, a message like “Should your application be shortlisted, a member of the recruitment team will contact you” – in other words, unsuccessful candidates don’t even get acknowledged. And it’s not unusual to hear someone talking about having spent hours on a job application, or even having gone for an interview, but they’ve heard nothing for ages. Or ever.

Employment levels are high in the UK in 2019 and there are skills shortages in many sectors. So, I am arguing for treating candidates like customers and bringing back the human touch. Let’s go retro. It’s a sad (but potentially exciting) fact that it will make you stand out amongst too many employers that treat candidates like numbers not people.


Read the first post in this series inspired by presentations and conversations at The FIRM Manchester 2019: Three shocking recruitment statistics.

SBRD Sally Bibb book

Sally Bibb’s book Strengths-based Recruitment and Development: A Practical Guide to Transforming Talent Management Strategy for Business Results (for organisations) is available from worldwide, or from the Kogan Page website.

Sally BibbDirector, Engaging Minds
Sally Bibb is the author of Strengths-based Recruitment and Development: A Practical Guide to Transforming Talent Management Strategy for Business Results and The Strengths Book: Discover How to Be Fulfilled in Your Work and in Life, and is a leading strengths expert.