Why Technology Won’t Kill the Recruitment Industry

In 2016, the recruitment industry finds itself at a fork in the road. For years, people have predicted the demise of the industry - but despite the rise of LinkedIn and other online resources, these predictions have proven to be false. Year upon year, recruitment has continued to thrive.

But it is easy to see that many people have become increasingly disillusioned with our industry - just look at the number of HR tech startups that have appeared in recent years, proposing solutions that cut out the recruiter entirely.

So where has this disenchantment come from?

The problem lies with the commonly adopted contingency recruitment model that forces recruiters to compete on the basis of speed, not quality and service. You wouldn’t dream of hiring a lawyer on the basis of who could construct some sort of case the quickest! And when speediness and shortcuts become the markers for success, both companies and candidates suffer from poor service and ill-suited placements. Clients are left feeling unsatisfied with their experience, and ‘disruptors’ are left believing that the solution is to bypass the recruiter all together - in the eyes of many, new technology can easily and inexpensively replace this third-party role. 

But here lies the real problem; somewhere along the way, the industry has lost sight of where the value in recruitment lies.  

The value of a recruiter isn’t just in the ability to source and select a suitable candidate, tasks that can and will be increasingly tackled by matching algorithms. No - the true value of a recruiter lies in the very human skills that are needed to persuade and bring talent to the hiring table while deftly managing the entire recruitment process, balancing the needs of both candidate and client.  

A great recruiter identifies candidates that aren’t looking to be placed, but who could in the future fit a niche set of skills that can be hard to fill. A great recruiter approaches, influences, persuades and mediates with candidates to ensure that they feel a personal connection when they step to the hiring table. A great recruiter doesn’t just source talent - they negotiate terms, fine-tune briefs and assist with settling new hires into a company.  

This human finesse is not something that technology can replace, but the underlying mistrust of the recruitment industry isn’t going away.

So what needs to change? 

Technology isn’t a threat to recruitment - it’s an ally. Agencies must start competing on quality and service, not speed, if they’re going to survive; the industry has progressed ​beyond the stage where it is simply good enough to be a ‘CV-shuffler’. Instead, the recruiters who will survive and thrive will be those who harness technology, using new online resources to add real value to companies and candidates, but also to find and source talent that companies simply can’t uncover by themselves.

No matter how far technology makes sourcing talent easier, the recruiters who have a real future will recognise that this digital potential must be paired with the human skills necessary to negotiate the entire recruitment process, and combat the negative perception of our industry.  

One simple solution to allow recruiters the freedom to focus on quality and service would be for more companies to adopt a retained or sole agency model. But this necessitates an underlying foundation of trust within the industry and with perceptions as they currently are at the moment, realistically this approach isn’t going to happen any time soon. Instead, there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way that companies find and partner with recruiters. 

This is the realisation that Zappudo is built around - the problem we’re trying to tackle. By centralising the hiring process on one platform, we’re building a community of recruiters that are empowered to compete on the things that really matter - astute placements and excellent service, not hasty turnarounds. We’re working hard every day to change the industry so that it becomes a better space for everyone.  

And so, while the recruitment industry does indeed find itself at a fork in the road, there is really only one path that makes any sense. It’s not the one that sees technology as the nail in the recruitment industry’s coffin. Instead, the way forwards lies in learning from experience, recognising the crucial changes that can be made, and harnessing technology to make them.

Joshua K. Jackson is the Co-Founder of Zappudo, a digital recruitment marketplace that simplifies the way you find and work with quality recruiters.

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