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or What Technology & Social Media Can’t Replace

Let me start out by stating, I love technology.  New gadgets, apps, software, social media networks, you name it, I want to try it.  But, like most things in life, there are the new innovations that work and those that don’t.  And, the outcome can be different for everyone.

But when it comes to the recruitment process, there are certain things that just can’t be replaced with a few lines of code , a webcam, or 140 characters of text.  I like to refer to this as the Kardashian Effect on Recruitment.

You see, love or hate the Kardashians or any other reality television stars out there, and as much as we may want to deny what I’m about to say, you have to appreciate the dramatic effect they have on the main stream population.  And, this effect has become commonly referred to as the ‘Kardashian Effect.’

Researchers have even gone so far as to study how reality stars have skewed the average person’s views of reality.  People feel like their lives need more drama based on what they perceive as reality on television.

They (we collectively) are influenced in what to buy, what to wear, what values to have, and even in the reverse, for those that hate reality television, we can be sucked into a blanket effect of negativity towards anything associated with it.  And fans can build an unhealthy connection to the stars, identifying with them as friends or acquaintances because they are engrossed in their day to day lives.

The effect works in many ways when related to the recruitment cycle.  Let’s start with social media.  If your company is on twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other social network, candidates can now follow you and stay up to date with everything you report on.

Even more so, as an HR person or recruiter, candidates can now follow you personally or subscribe to your updates on various social networks and build a perceived view of who you are based on your social communications.  Whatever you put out there, candidates will find and try to relate to it.  (And, on the opposite end, you’ll research candidates building your own case about who they are.)

But, is what you’re putting out there reality?  For some yes, for others no, but it will be perceived that way because perception is reality.

And, what if you don’t have a good social media strategy in place?  Even if you have a fantastic company or brand, this can reflect poorly on the candidate (and customer) experience to users who now expect immediate responses, entertainment, and up to date information.

With all the technological advancements in the way we recruit, this same phenomenon can happen in reverse as well.  In an automated recruitment process, recruiters and hiring managers now have the option (and I say option for very good reason) to go through 90% of the recruitment process without ever having to personally interact with an applicant.

From resume, to recorded phone and video interviews, everything can be wrapped up in one online package to be viewed and shared with other hiring managers and compared side by side to other candidates.  Technology is grand.

But, recruiters and hiring managers can build the same perceived expectations that fans of the Kardashians do, when it comes to their top applicants.  When candidates are finally invited in to the face to face interview, the recruiter may already feel like they know them from top to bottom and feel very comfortable with them, whereas the candidate has had no connection other than their own research and the face of a computer interacting with them and can be a bit disconnected with the experience.

It can lead to a bit of an awkward getting to know you if not handled properly.   If mishandled, it can completely put-off that star candidate who feels detached or disengaged from the experience.

Needless to say, technology is supposedly getting us to a better quality of candidate, while saving time and money, but there’s an exchange that happens that companies often forget when implementing new changes to their process.

It’s what a smile and a handshake used to give so much confidence in, the relationship building aspect of the process.  Candidates want to be treated like human beings not numbers and data being fed through machines until the last minute.

Despite how much we love the things that technology can do for us in ‘improving’ the process, there’s something to be said for that personal connection and hand holding of the old process (when done well–always the caveat) that gave job seekers and employers a better sense of security, that software has yet to replace.

But, perhaps this is the new reality.

While people argue that the ‘human’ is being removed from Human Resources, maybe over time, all these arguments won’t matter anymore because everyone will have adjusted to the new norm, the new way we interact.  And, it will become what’s expected because new generations of applicants won’t share a first handshake with a recruiter on their college campus, instead they’ll give a ‘like’ and have a micro exchange via a chat session in a virtual career fair.

Or maybe all the fuss will create some new advancement that we have yet to experience that will improve the process even more for both sides.

For now, my vote goes to the companies and recruiters out there who make the best of it and blend technology with the personal connection.  Who, despite always running out of time and energy make sure they are doing what they can to improve the experience whether it’s through adjusting technology to not be so impersonal, or adding a human element to the process, because they remember what it’s like to look for a job.

I’d be interested to hear the thoughts from both sides of the table on where they feel technology is headed in the recruitment process, what they like and don’t like about current developments, or how they can be improved, blended, or re-invented.

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