I attended a recruitment conference / technology event in London today. I didn't stay long, just for the first hour or so. The event organisers started the day with a set of "speed pitches" from the various vendors involved in sponsoring / exhibiting at the event. As someone who is involved in both recruiting and implement inbound marketing strategies for technology companies, this would be interesting exercise.
And it certainly was for a number of reasons but perhaps not for the reasons many of the vendors would hope. There were around twenty CRM vendors at the event. Some familiar names, some less familiar. At least half of these vendors were presenting CRM solutions. So here we have a real opportunity to see some differentiation between the various vendors.
We got a little of that. "We do email tracking" announced one. "Contextual Searching" another. "We're quick". "We do partnerhsips and so on". One quite well known CRM company didn't actually tell us what they did but encouraged us to go and visit their stand anyway.
But throughout, I heard no shortage of what people did, but very little about what people could do for my recruitment agency but generic "we help you place more candidates and make more money" kind of statements. A well known consultant was there. His pitch was good and positioning intriguing, and certainly that was the one key follow up actions coming out of the event. He was running a workshop later in the afternoon, but I didn't want to spend the best part of two hours of my day wading through a bunch of technology demo's in order to get to it. I can call that individual when the time is right in order to get a synopsis of his presentation and what he could do to help us.
Perhaps I am getting too cynical in my middle years. One element that cut through on many of the pitches was that of "Speed". We help you do this faster, that faster, the other at the speed of light. All well and good I thought, but speed isn't necessarily my objective. Good and timely, yes. My primary objective is centered upon quality. Technology is a tool. A very useful tool, and one which is an imperative in these days of massive data volumes and CV influxes.
I feel that there is a danger in seeing technology as the be-all and end-all of recruitment. In my view, for what it is worth, i think technology has driven us forward in a good and necessary way (how else would we deal with the CV volumes the internet gives is). But I also feel it has in part at least been responsible for driving negative perceptions of recruitment agencies. Technology as dehumanised recruitment methods significantly. I feel this from both the candidate perspective who may deal with in-house and recruitment agencies and as a recruitment agency owner who wants to do more to help his candidates but is too often hampered by rigid protocols and long-winded in-house ATS systems. Sometimes, we all need to talk just a little more.
Quality is an imperative too my approach. For now at least, in the absence of any apparent technological innovation, quality is very much a human activity, potentially aided in the first instance by "Contextual Searching". I'd rather not send my clients a CV for the sake of sending one. If I don't have the candidates, I don't feel the need to jump up and down saying "at least I'm having a go".
For me quality is something that a recruitment business must engineer itself. It is the by-product of who you hire, the way they are trained and the mechanisms that undertaken throughout the recruitment process. It is about the detail, the way in recruiters work with researchers and vice-versa. The structure of the process as a whole to ensure that as far as is ever possible, our in-house colleagues get great CV's that are worthy of serious consideration. The role of technology in this process is limited except for it's purpose in sifting through our in-house database and the giant database and connectivity tool that is the internet. But that alone is not being a good recruiter.
I guess what I am saying is that from my standpoint, technology has succeeded in providing us with useful macro-level process enablers. Ingest CV's, do contextual searching, social media engagement, pipeline and communication management and so forth. But there is a level of detail beyond this macro-level process that makes the difference between a functional recruiter and a great recruiter. It is in this area that I would like to see technology begin to make a difference in assisting us drive quality alongside great process execution. Because if today was anything to go by, with the exception of one vendor, CRM / ATS vendors seem to be struggling to differentiate otherwise.