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There is plenty of talk in international HR circles of e-recruiting – using social media platforms to attract staff – heralding a new paradigm in recruitment practices.
Some have even gone as far as to say that recruitment agencies will soon be obsolete, as employers can now access candidates directly, and applicants see job posts directly, all at the click of a mouse.
But I think these predictions are short-sighted. Yes, technology is another tool in the recruitment process and should be used in the current connected employment landscape to maximise recruitment opportunities, but it can never entirely replace traditional recruitment practices.
Why? Because recruitment is a people-driven process, and technology will never be a substitute for the human element.
Consider that the 2011 SA Recruitment Survey conducted by SA Recruiters Network and Jobs.co.za showed that 78 percent of companies use recruitment agencies.
On the other side of the coin, a survey conducted by Network Recruitment among finance and engineering professionals found that 46 percent of respondents used a recruitment agency to find their current jobs.
This tells us that employers and potential employees see the value of using recruitment agencies to efficiently match companies to staff and vice versa. This reflects the reality that making hiring decisions is a subjective, intuitive process that is largely affected by intangible elements and the chemistry between people.
Matching skills to a job spec on paper is the easy part, and technology helps with that. But the true value in working with a recruitment consultant goes far beyond, to the real heart of the recruitment process.
For a start, a good consultant understands just how critical culture and value matches are between employers and applicants, and knows how to effectively “read” these aspects in order to bring the right people together. Also, the important assets a potential employee could bring to a company don’t always translate on paper or in an e-mail.
The result is that employers using technology only to source and assess candidates could overlook those applicants’ real strengths. Again, a good consultant knows how to draw these talents out and present them in a more accessible way to prospective employers.
Successfully matching the right job seeker to the right employer is a sensitive process involving a lot of communication and negotiation.
Communication is an art that technology doesn’t facilitate well; it opens communications up to assumptions which can lead to negative conclusions. A capable mediator facilitates true communication that equally represents both parties’ interests.
The most successful appointments are made through employee referrals. Existing staff – with an intimate knowledge of an organisation’s culture and values – recognise these same qualities in prospective employees. Competent recruitment agencies play a similar role, and are able to make the same difference to a company.
l Niteske Marshall is MD of Network Recruitment