The other day I read an interesting post by Ken Forrester on LinkedIn, “Recruitment Automation Is The New Headhunting”. It elicited a lot of great comments, some positive and some skeptical, on the use of marketing automation tactics in recruiting.

One belief that I want to address is the thought that recruitment automation would take the “human element” out of recruiting. And that technology in and of itself has turned recruiting into a discipline devoid of human interaction (I went a little too far here but you get my point.)

So let’s take a look at the lessons we have learned from marketing and sales in terms of automation, technologies we use for talent acquisition and the ultimate value they can provide.

How Has Automation Affected Sales and Marketing?

In talking about automation and it’s role in process and strategy, we don’t have to look any further than sales and marketing. Both these functions have seen great technological change in the systems they use to do their jobs and what is expected of their skill-sets to be successful.

For Sales, it’s Sales CRMs such as SalesForce that dominate the technology landscape and with these tools there was a similar level of skepticism initially in terms of the overlap it had with the responsibilities of sales professionals. But when we look at this technology today it has created opportunities for increased investment for sales teams with experts specializing in Sales Operations in the CRM and Sales Executives that were able to focus more intensely on building relationships with and closing prospects (where they add the most value) and less on the operational side, where Operations specialists hone their craft.

For Marketing, Marketing Automation has done something similar although it’s still not as mature as the Sales CRM space. Marketing Automation came in to augment and automate specific activities a marketer did while ensuring data capture across all the channels and campaigns an organization executed. It provided a deeper look at the strategy as a whole and while it automated certain aspects of a marketers role it has enabled their role to be less transactional and more strategic.

Automation Leads to New Skill Development

As we look back, the real question is “Have the sales and marketing ranks been decimated by automation?” In simple terms, not really (here’s a good read on it.) But it has helped advance our strategies especially marketing and with any advance in strategy leads to new processes and new skills we need to cultivate. Marketers that didn’t adapt to the new dynamic that automation brought have found some of their responsibilities or day-to-day go away but it’s also opened up their time to focus on more strategic initiatives. It has enabled marketers to focus less on maintenance and more on execution in terms of targeting of campaigns, improved content and messaging development, sophisticated lead nurturing programs and better lead scoring, to name a few.

In short, it’s made marketing a more strategic function and improved the functions ability to provide the right message to the right lead at the right time in a scalable way. And most importantly, consistently and predictably measure results and improve.

The Technologies of Talent Acquisition

When we look at the current technology ecosystem we have 2 main technology categories that affect how we recruit talent today. We have the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and we have Recruitment Marketing technologies.

The ATS was built to provide process in the hiring process and to manage the mass of applications that were coming to employers. To solve this need it systematized the application process and flow to help recruiters better manage the different stages an applicant undergoes in the hiring process. While many complain about the ATS, the fact is that it solves exactly the problem is was meant to. It provides compliance and process support to the hiring process and expecting it to be an engagement tool to build relationships with is unfair.

Where engagement occurs is in the candidate attraction or recruitment marketing stage of recruiting. This is where the candidate is forming an opinion and in turn making a decision on whether to apply to a company or not. This is where recruitment marketing technologies come into play and where relationship building becomes essential. It’s also where automation can provide the necessary support to recruiting teams in order to focus on candidate relationships rather than maintenance of the strategy.

Let’s look at a few initiatives we do to attract candidates:

  • Automated Job Distribution of newly opened positions based on unique business rules
  • Automatic Talent Pipeline building (through job apply flow by critical skill families)
  • Customized Email Engagement based on Candidate Actions
  • SEO Job Pages created on Career Site for every new open job requisition in ATS
  • Mobile Responsive Career Site for candidate visitors
  • Intelligent Suggestions for Employee Referrals based on social connections
  • Centralized and Real-time Analytics across all sources, campaigns and initiatives

What do all of these initiatives have in common? Three things. One, all of the above happen through automation. Two, they are a huge time suck and doing them manually does not provide any additional value. Three, by doing this organizations enable their recruiting team to focus on brand awareness, communication and content strategy and candidate outreach and engagement and be less muddled in busy work of managing the maintenance of the strategy.

Technologies such as Recruitment Marketing Platforms are providing functionality to help execute time-consuming processes through automation while providing the system recruiting professionals can use to better begin and build relationships with the right candidates not just to fill jobs today but to provide a sustainable model to meet talent needs in the future as well.

A Candidate Focused Recruiting Approach

Automation for recruiting is happening but not to replace recruiting teams with robots but to empower recruiting teams to focus on the strategic elements needed to attract, engage and nurture the right candidates.

To reach and attract the next generation of candidates, just-in-time recruiting practices while still useful in certain instances will be augmented and married with relationship-based recruiting practices. Modern recruiting is focused on conversion of candidates not just as applicants but as contacts to begin a relationship with. If your organization can use automation to get to this engagement stage faster, your strategy will be better for it.

Recruitment Marketing Platform

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