Recruiting is a personal services business. It is also a “bottom line” business - - totally governed by a Recruiter’s current productivity. Right and wrong, success and failure, and the concept of “long term achievement” by a Recruiter are frequently measured only by the last 90 days’ production.
The goal of using a computer for Recruiting is in increasing production and productivity by increasing information access. A computer is only a tool, and information alone does NOT make placements. A recruiting database is essentially an electronic card file. The ability to recognize Candidate and Opportunity relationships and the decision-making skills of a Recruiter are subjective and can never be replaced by a computer.
A Recruiter’s success depends on the quantity of daily contacts, the quality of daily contacts, and the skill in bringing Employers and Candidates together, but information on Employers and Candidates is only as valid and useful as the last conversation with each contact. Productivity requires a balance between having too little information to match Candidates and Opportunities, versus too much information that hinders focus, speed, or flexibility. The ability to correctly interpret and filter data is as important as the speed of data entry and speed of data retrieval. A Recruiter still has to determine the needs of the Employers, needs of the Candidates, recognize those relationships, and make the contacts. Frequently success actually comes from an intuitive ability to recognize a LEAD on an opening that matches a LEAD on a recruit, as well as the skills to bring them together.
Unlike other selling professions, a Recruiter is NOT selling off an order form. While every Recruiter, and every industry, has terminology and priorities specific to its background and use, it IS possible to use concepts such as Dollars, Geography, Technical Compatibility, and Personality to define either a Candidate or an Opportunity. These are subjective rather than objective concepts. A Company looking for someone to sell “EVA resins” may fail to see that a Candidate whose resume refers to “ethylene glycol derivatives” is selling the same item. Even where “quantitative” criteria can be specified, those values are still ranges rather than specific points. A Candidate earning $62,500 might accept an opportunity where the base salary is $50,000 and guaranteed incentives are an additional $30,000. A Candidate in South Bend, Indiana, might accept an Opportunity in Chicago only if the Recruiter recognizes that South Bend is part of the metropolitan Chicago area. A Recruiter may also have to deal with personal factors that may never in advance come to mind. A Candidate adamant about staying in Atlanta might accept a Chicago Opportunity because both he and his spouse have THEIR parents (Grandparents to THEIR children) living in Chicago.
When information about Dollars, Geography, Technical Compatibility, and Personality are available, perceptions are still shaped by biology and experiences and environment. Failure to personalize the recruiting process and recognize the uniqueness of both Candidate and Employer is counterproductive. Assuming an individual’s needs without reaffirming his/her current situation becomes a major reason for a Recruiter’s failure to make Candidate and Opportunity matches, as well as losing credibility.
Timing is also an essential, but frequently uncontrollable, factor despite adequate responsiveness by the Recruiter, Candidate, or Employer. A Candidate available for an Opportunity “today” is worthless when that Opportunity is no longer available six months from now. A Candidate NOT appropriate for a Company today might fit an Opportunity a year from now because of changes in either (or both) the Candidate or the Company.
These subjective factors create “inherent insanities” which contribute to a Recruiter’s feeling of a frequent lack of control over the recruiting process. (The inability to deal with those “lack of control” feelings is a contributor to alcoholism and drug use among some Recruiters, and the abusive micro-management of some Recruiting Managers.) A skilled Recruiter focuses on results, and recognizes that matching Candidates and Opportunities is subjective. Since it IS possible to make a placement using a scrap of paper with the name and phone number of the Candidate and Employer as the ONLY written information, those “inherent insanities” are why some extremely productive Recruiters successfully use only “paper and pencil” to track and match Employers, Candidates, and Opportunities. By focusing on the objective and adjusting to constantly changing subjective details, he/she avoids the problem of inputting data that becomes instantly fossilized, and is only as accurate as the last conversation with the Candidate or Employer.
Rather than facilitating the Recruiters ability to focus on finding matches, expensive detail-oriented software programs for Recruiting frequently micro-manage the process, and succeed only in appealing to an Office Manager’s illusion that they are controlling the data. There are numerous “horror stories” of offices that collapsed because of the Manager’s priority of getting data into the computer rather than on making phone calls, and offices that have ground to a halt because the software crashed. (This is different from franchises whose computers became $25,000 paperweights when they discontinued their franchise agreements.)
Information in a successful Recruiter computer system must be easily accessible, differentiable, timely, and easily kept current. However, a Recruiter must also be “mentally organized.” A disorganized Recruiter will find a computer to be worthless. Data not entered consistently into relevant fields becomes lost in an “electronic swamp” and contributes to time lost in the “black hole” of data entry. Because each Recruiter and market activity are unique, a useful database needs to be customizable, with flexible layouts for viewing and printing data for Employers, Candidates, Opportunities, and Market Leads. It must have built-in word processing (mail-merge) and email capability. A useful database must also be flexible enough to allow complex searches on partial words or text regardless of case or position in a data field. A spelling checker active in the database also allows a Recruiter to verify text consistency so that a search for terminology can be done as easily as a code-based search.
Recruiting is also a process, as is ALL sales, and not just a single skill, or set of skills. As a process, results (placements) come from focusing on the appropriate steps over the necessary time to achieve a goal. As a process, it is also why it is difficult to use specific skills at one point in time to predict specific successes in advance, as well as why it is so difficult to have a predictive test as to which salesperson will become successful.
The accumulated value of a data is also why it is essential to have a reliable backup. The value of data is NOT in the contents, but in the hours spent creating that data. Because of the uniqueness of an individual Recruiter’s ability to interpret that data, accessibility and preservation of that data needs to have a higher priority than “data security.” Excess passwords and controls should not make the data inaccessible to those who need to use it.
The irony of computerization in Recruiting, a profession where results are the measure of success, is that “less is frequently more.” The cost of software and hardware is often more a result of “bloatware,” and not whether it contributes to productivity. The essential criteria should be the ease of data input, speed of data access, data consistency, flexibility of data interpretation, and efficient use of a word processor and email.
The primary value of using a computer to increase production, however, may not be in skills matching of Candidates to Opportunities, but in a Recruiter’s being able to rapidly find the phone number of a person or company when the only thing remembered is part of a name or company or location or trivia associated with that record. There is also anecdotal evidence that 80% of Placed Candidates do NOT come from already being in a database, but from leads generated by contacting other individuals on file. The term most accurately used to describe THAT process is called “Recruiting.”