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“There are lots of “cool tools” designed to theoretically improve and speed up the recruiting process. Whereas what many of these recruiting tools actually do is create a more disruptive environment for the recruiter, a more protracted and uninformed environment for the candidate.”

Candidate experience is a phrase being used a lot at the moment (there are even awards for it).  We are talking about improving it, debating where it starts and stops, and whose responsibility it is.  Equally, recruitment technology has never been higher on the agenda of a recruiter.  Can one help the other?

Maybe you, like me, listened to the RecruitingBlogs webinar on Wednesday 30 July.  The topic was Improving Candidate Experience with Digital Interviews and the “long life student of staffing”, Gerry Crispin, was in attendance.  The idea of the webinar was to discuss how innovative digital tools can improve the candidate experience.

I think that it’s fair to say that overall the candidate experience can be pretty dire – and often even is mistaken for the “bit where candidates apply for jobs”, and ignores the massively important and influential post placement stages.

We can, and do, get excited about what digital / online / social tools can do for our recruiting strategies, but there are challenges with using tech to recruit.

Option paralysis

So many systems, not enough process?  I see this every day in both the in-house and agency market.  Lots of “cool tools” designed to theoretically improve and speed up the recruiting process.  Whereas what many of these recruiting tools actually do is create a more disruptive environment for the recruiter, a more protracted and uninformed environment for the candidate.

Don’t get me wrong – I love technology.  I have been in IT for over 20 years and when kit is created to improve speed and visibility, I am on that band wagon. But right now I see 2 themes of tech evolving.

Theme 1: In-House 1 – agencies 0?

It’s fair to say that some recruitment technology appears to be more widely used in by in-house recruitment teams than their staffing/agency peers.

This is definitely the case for video interviewing tools.  In-house teams use them to sift / engage.  Candidates are becoming more savvy and it seems that we put a lot of stock in people who are able to “perform” on camera and are at ease with technology.  We use the excuse that everyone has access to the internet and hence we often use this as the basis for much of the recruiting process.

But am I right in thinking that the agency market has not widely taken to using video to recruit as they want to keep hold of the theoretical personal touch that phone / face to face gives them?  Or perhaps they are trying to keep control of the process and not adapt to new tech to help them engage with volumes of candidates?  I rarely come across staffing firms who has proactively and positively engaged with video to engage their talent.

This may also be the case for referral schemes and tools.  When was the last time you saw a clear and obvious statement on a staffing company’s website about referral scheme?  Or an in-house team not afraid to market how much they spend on their staff, or the wider public, as a reward for attracting their friends into the business.   But tools exist to help recruiters source talent through their existing networks, track the progress and reward the source.  This is whilst the agency market still insists on manually sourcing it.

Theme 2: Recruiters are not robot sourcers

Agency and staffing companies are benefiting from innovations in sourcing technology.  Whether it be internet scraping tools, data mining, theoretical big data collectors, or simply cute widgets to help recruiters search quicker.

What’s interesting here is that in-house teams definitely see the benefit of these tools and are actively using them – alongside staffing firms.  Does this create a level playing field?  Has innovation given both the in-house and agency model the same access to candidates?

Collaborative technology?

It would be too easy to suggest that agency recruiters are dead – and the trolls online do this regularly.  I don’t think that they are or that they ever will be.  I am a massive advocate of the staffing agency model and feel that it should collaborate with its clients.

Something to consider though, is that some of the technology being created is technology designed to enhance the in-house model (video / referral software) and this is putting agencies on the defense and perhaps forcing them to become more active sourcers rather than talent attractors.

I’m interested in kit which helps the two worlds collaborate – which is what we need to move towards.  Does it really exist? And if it does, does the culture exist to get ROI from it?

There is a case for using technology to improve the candidate experience, but right now I see technology as possibly focused too much on sifting and sourcing, and improving the reach and speed of recruiters – and neither of these theoretical improvements may offer the candidate a better experience.  What do you think?


Lisa is a director of Barclay Jones, a consultancy working with recruiters on their recruitment technology and social media strategies. Prior to Barclay Jones she worked in a number of Recruitment, IT, Web and Operations director-level roles. She is a technology and strategy junkie with keen eyes on the business process.

You'll see Lisa speaking at many recruitment industry events and being a recruitment technology and social media evangelist online.

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