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Automated recruitment is the future…if we didn’t happen to be human

  • There has been a lot of speculation recently that recruitment agencies will not be necessary in the future (there are some companies who are already claiming to have the perfect automated solution). As technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, it has been suggested that the online data available on companies and individuals will be so rich and algorithms will be so advanced that it will be possible for organisations to discover the ideal candidates for them and vice versa with just a few clicks of a button.

    While this sounds like a fantastic solution in principle, and it could possibly threaten many recruitment agencies who operate solely on a contingent basis, it could never replace the services of retained companies like Newman Stewart. There is no doubt that technology will continue to assist the recruitment process, but it is impossible that software will ever be able to replace the human touch completely. Here are 4 reasons why it is unlikely automated search will ever replace the in-depth, tailored, personal service of Executive Search.


    While the majority of people won’t consider telling an outright lie to gain a competitive advantage, there are very few people who could categorically say that they have never stretched the truth in order to portray themselves in the best light possible. As the importance attached to personal branding continues to increase, the tendency for people to exaggerate to create the best profile possible is likely to grow. Therefore any information provided by an individual regarding themselves, whether it is their LinkedIn profile or their CV, is likely to be a skewed version of the truth and should be taken with a pinch of salt in the first instance. Only experienced recruitment professionals can speak to prospects directly and have the ability to ask the right questions to drill down and get a reliable picture of a candidate’s skill set and history.

    Mind games

    Unless all of our minds are going to be wired directly to a server in the cloud sometime in the future. It is unlikely that we will be able to unmask the motivators of an individual simply through what they have published online, or by monitoring their online behaviour any time soon. Only in-depth face-to-face questioning, thorough ability testing and psychometric assessment has the potential to reveal a candidate’s inner most thoughts, fears and desires.

    Personality profile

    Psychometric assessments are already deployed by companies (including Newman Stewart) to effectively match professionals to organisations in terms of personality and behaviour. But it isn’t common practice to assess all the stakeholders in the business who will be working with the selected candidate. Newman Stewart and other high quality executive search businesses take time to meet with all stakeholders in an organisation to get a rounded view of the business, where it has come from, where it plans to go and the personalities involved in making it happen. No absolutes exist – as they do in the assessment of an algorithm. The perfect skills and background often don’t match the behavioural requirement of a brief and visa – versa – as a consequence often the perfect candidate is the one closest to all elements. This is driven out through 4 layers of qualification – 1. CV assessment vs the brief 2. Telephone interview/ Video interview 3. Face to Face interview 4. Psychometric Assessment/Ability testing.

    Things change

    Executives will spend an increasing amount of time online in the future. They will do so in order to maintain their online profile. Typically this will involve maintaining their own website, updating social media profiles, submitting blogs and contributing to discussions to demonstrate that that they are thought leaders in their particular field. But no matter how good the intentions are of individuals during busy times or due to personal situations activity will decline, profiles will become outdated and circumstances will change. Active candidates will find jobs, passive candidates will become active. People will move companies and change roles. No matter how much information is online or how much activity can be monitored in the future, it is inconceivable that we will get to a stage where the circumstances of every active and passive candidate can be deciphered. Only the activity of personally sourcing and speaking to prospective candidates directly will be able to determine circumstances and suitability.

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