Having had countless conversations with employers about their recruitment challenges, my observation is that, in most cases, less technology, not more, is needed, if they are to find great people who will end up loving the job and the company.

Unemployment in the UK is at a record low, and two in three employers are experiencing a skills shortage. This will likely worsen due to Brexit.

Some are turning to technology in the hope it will make their recruitment more efficient and help them find the right candidates. Unfortunately, these two goals can be mutually exclusive. Automation can mean screening in unsuitable candidates and inadvertently screening out great ones.

The appeal of using technology for screening is understandable – decide upon a set of selection criteria and automatically screen out people who don’t meet those criteria. The problem is that unless there is a rigorous approach to understanding what great looks like, suitable candidates can be cast out. (Click here to read about a real-life instance, where one of our clients had made an incorrect assumption about the characteristics of ideal candidates. They assumed great candidates would be naturally assertive. Profiling of exemplars in the role showed that wasn’t true).

The other real danger is that the use of technology can introduce bias. Amazon stopped using technology to screen candidates because it found it was favouring male applicants – the algorithm was based on data from past success stories, the majority of whom were white and male. It gave lower scores to female candidates. Profiling eliminates this danger, if you base the profile on a diverse group of exemplars.

Common problems, like not being able to attract the right candidates, attracting too high a volume of applicants, and bias, can only be solved by high quality candidate profiles (as opposed to a set of supposed requirements that may not accurate). The profile allows you to create an excellent attraction strategy because you understand what will appeal to the right people. This is turn reduces the number of unsuitable applicants.

The other difficulty is that some people who would be great hires aren’t looking for a new job. Relying on people applying therefore doesn’t always work. So, you need to put in the effort to understand what the perfect hire will look like and why they would be interested in you. Then you need to go wooing to find the passive candidate.

There is no substitute for the human touch, standing out from the crowd and, also, making a candidate feel special.

So, my advice is:

  1. Spend time getting clear about what a great candidate looks like (build a profile of the right person)
  2. Create an attraction strategy that will reach people who fit the profile
  3. Excite the right kinds of candidates (avoid the awful jargon and boring language so typical of job descriptions)
  4. Treat people exceptionally well
  5. Woo them with personalised benefits that you know will appeal to them
  6. Last, but not least, use a strengths-based interview that allows them to show you who they are

Disclaimer: I run my business to help employers who are struggling with recruiting great people. This piece isn’t a sales pitch, but if you’ve read this and thought, ‘OMG, YES’ and you want to do things differently, we might make a perfect match.

Give us a call. (+44 (0) 7721 000095 or email hello@engagingminds.co.uk)

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.