How Will Recruitment Navigate the Future?


As everyone always seems to be, I found myself discussing the future with a few of my colleagues. Specifically, we noted that while every other industry seems to be reeling from the rapid march of technology, but inside the recruitment industry we don’t seem to have noticed yet. My coworker Andrew Seeley had some interesting thoughts on that matter.

“You are going to change the recruitment industry by needing less people and giving them better technology,” he said.

Fewer people – that goes against some of the core practices and beliefs of our industry. As Andrew pointed out, “The typical recruitment model suggests that you can just throw bodies at the market and you’ll bring in revenue through sheer force and volume. The future will not allow that. You will not be able to provide the candidate and client experience consistently with large head counts.” The future will provide the kind of tech that empowers self-direction, placing greater control in the hands of individuals.

But why will we need to focus on reduced numbers and increased efficiency? Well, let’s look at the value of recruiters in the first place: time is a finite resource, and from an opportunity-cost perspective, hiring managers’ time is better spent executing against their deliverables. That doesn’t mean that hiring managers don’t have the ability to do their own recruiting – if anything, good hiring managers may actually be able to achieve consistently better results than recruiters. But even assuming a hiring manager can achieve the same quality at the same speeds as a recruiter, that manager’s time is better spent elsewhere.

And the recruitment process really can take a lot of time. Have you ever looked through a stack of ten or so resumes that a recruiter selected for you? That alone can begin to feel endless, especially if they all seem like great potential employees; now multiply that endeavour by ten, even 100, and the process of finding relevant candidates from a broader pool of talent can consume a truly troubling amount of a hiring manager’s time.

Creating a software augmentation solution that would bring even 75 percent of a recruiter’s efficiency to the hiring managers would be huge, and I think it’s inevitable that we’ll arrive at that point. If hiring managers gain that kind of competitive edge in the recruitment space, I suspect that Andrew will have a satisfying ‘I told you so’ moment as the need for volume and headcount-based firms rapidly dissipates. That isn’t to say that recruitment will vanish altogether, but those firms that stick around will be different. The remaining firms will have even more advanced technology that allows them a greater capacity for prediction, and to provide authoritative assistance in the area of judgement.

Of course, providing candidates with amazing service will always be critical, but even that may be augmented by tech. Will the next generation of chat bots find a home in recruitment? Will advances in natural language-processing (NLP) technology allow for more robust models of candidates, and more accurate assessments of optimal placements? I believe so. We’ll still want to meet people as we always have (and find value in that face to face interaction), but recruiting methods will require technological augmentation.

If this talk of tech seems bleak and cold, it’s not. On the company/client side of recruiting, we will be able to enhance hiring decisions from a cultural point of view like never before. There’s always a lot of talk in recruitment about hiring for a ‘cultural fit,’ but the focus needs to (and will) shift towards a ‘cultural contribution’ as Adam Grant would say. Why hire more of what you already have, when we’re able to tell you what kind of traits your company needs to boost its culture? Look at it another way: we can create an algorithm for anything, provided we have the right kind of data to fuel it. If data-gathering tech can give us the input, we can make algorithmic decisions about which candidate will make your office a better place to work. It’s this multifaceted approach that will give hiring managers and HR professionals the tools to build a better team, and with greater confidence.

Big companies will struggle in an age when the effectiveness of their scale is challenged by technologically augmented hiring managers/HR professionals/smaller recruitment firms as well as self-directed job seekers. If they use their current stature to invest in the tech now, it could be a different story. But if they don’t, Andrew suspects that these companies “will be purely transactional and will slowly vanish. All that’s left will be a few really good companies (with 1/4 the headcount that some of these large players currently have) that leverage really great technology, and build meaningful relationships with clients and candidates, providing more than just access to jobs and people. A differentiated customer experience will win the market.”

In the future of recruitment, those who have a mind to create their own path forward by investing and innovating will be able to serve their clients and candidates dramatically better than ever before. As well, these recruiters will have made themselves better job seekers and better hirers. Clarity devotes a third of its operating budget to technology like this, and to research that gets published in some of the most renowned academic journals in the world. We’re constantly working to shape the future of the industry on behalf of our clients and candidates… it’s a brave new world.

There’s always more to a story than can fit on a page. Get in touch today to learn more about my story, or to find out how I can help change yours for the better.


Shane Gagnon is the Director of Clarity Recruitment Vancouver, with six years of experience in the industry. This is his personal blog, where you can expect to find not only insights from his endeavor to disrupt the recruitment industry, but also a glimpse into his pursuit of a satisfying career for himself and the finance/accounting professionals of Vancouver. Join Shane for each new post, as he reveals the journey that brought him here, and where he plans to go next.

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