The Lost Art Of Traditional Recruiting

Linda ReyesBlogging, Forbes Coaches Counsel


With the never-ending advent of online résumés and companies claiming to render old-school recruiting irrelevant, how are companies to find the best people to drive their future?

Nowadays, traditional recruiting practices can be easily cut short, and more “efficient” systems are replacing them. In short, what worked before does not work now. Time that used to be invested in one-on-one conversations by phone and in person can be replaced by automated systems, applicant tracking systems and keyword-driven, cloud-based databases of thousands upon thousands of candidates for jobs you intend to fill.

What’s the problem with this new and brave world? It cuts out, cuts down and reduces the most important part of your company’s outreach to people.

These online and automated tools promise better candidates, better methodologies and improved ways to find, identify and hire the best people, delivered directly to your computer or inbox without pain or hassle. They find out who fits and who will make a difference to your organization now and in the long-term. It’s simply difficult to do the best kind of recruiting by creating a never-ending avalanche of résumés.

But the human touch gets lost in this process.

Here’s how one of our clients, formerly an HR leader, explained hiring automation:

“In my last role, I don’t think I talked to a human being until we administered their background test and two other testing elements that came through our ATS. I think the human interaction time was like an hour, including the final in-house interview. When I asked my VP of HR for reasons why, he said, ‘We cannot afford to wine and dine people anymore.'”

When expressing my concerns to others in the industry regarding the reduction of human interaction, creative conversations, one-on-one interviews and full reference checking, I heard this:

Executive: “It’ll never go back to the day when we interviewed people as we did years ago. You just can’t keep up with all the compliance stuff. But I will not hire a crucial person to my C-suite until they have spent time with every member of my staff. I suppose the automated tools help you whittle things down.”

Internal Recruiter: “I see it all the time, but we have our own process, our system, and it has a lot to do with compliance. We, as a company, don’t want to get sued, so we thought we would automate the whole thing. It’s still arduous. It takes more time than I remember it ever taking. It’s cumbersome and confusing to candidates and the recruiters.”

Staffing Leader: “I like it because the less I have to interact with aggressive job seekers and the more hiring looks like it is machine-driven, it takes the human emotion out of it. So I use these automated processes, but I admit you cannot go into depth and really know how people will be until you meet them one on one and really find out who they are versus what they represent on their documents.”

Let’s admit something: Indeed, LinkedIn and automated databases will not be going away anytime soon. So what can companies do to retain some of the so-called “old-school” methods of recruiting without replacing the tidal wave of talent just a click away?

1. Stop viewing recruiting as simply a game of numbers.Unless you are hiring masses to go stand as extras on a movie set, you need to vet each and every candidate, one by one. Keywords, database downloads and automated click-by-click résumés from “qualified candidates” do not make a hire. They may help you identify the raw material you need to make a decision, but you still need to turn that raw gold into an actual ring.

2. Create constant interactions between you and talent. Invite potential candidates interested in your company to meet the hiring managers at a socially focused event. Some companies hold open houses where candidates and recruiters can have conversations about the company versus one-on-one interviews. You could even serve pizza, soft drinks and beer.

3. Use third-party recruiters. Overwhelmed by the madness and the sheer number of people applying through your site and the search bots out there? Delegate the job to a staffing company or recruiter group who will do nothing but vet the best candidates. Your risk is they don’t do their job well. But your benefit is that they save your team time and money interviewing top candidates.

Remember how the movie Back To The Future ended?

Marty McFly: Hey, Doc, we better back up. We don’t have enough road to get up to 88.

Dr. Emmett Brown: Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

In today’s recruiter world, we need roads back to the future — roads that acknowledge and use some of the personalized, creative and human touches lost in our new technical age.