In my previous article, I referred in particular to the "time" factor and the resulting changes for the industries from a Dutch perspective. This article will focus on the concept of digitisation in executive recruitment.
To what extent does digitisation affect the personnel sector?
Companies will spend $2 trillion worldwide on digital transformation in 2019. That is 2,000 billion dollars. It will only take two years before this happens, but so far many sectors have barely noticed the promised benefits in terms of productivity, quality and income. In fact, according to American Progress, an American thirty-year-old now earns as much as a thirty-year-old in 1984, while he is now much better educated and 70 percent more productive. How can we use technology to make employees more efficient and earn more?
New technology, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), improves efficiency and reduces costs for companies that are ready for the future. Currently, only a few benefit from the advantages, especially the highly skilled employees. Of course, it is not surprising that there is a pay gap between employees, because skilled employees are rewarded for their expertise. However, it is strange that not everyone is yet benefiting from the technological possibilities, while it is being made available to more and more people.
Staying competitive in a dynamic market
Such new technologies are often first deployed in a niche market before they are evenly spread across the business landscape. In the manufacturing sector, the advantages of the IoT are already clearly noticeable, because productivity has grown enormously there. Companies try out the newest and best solutions to stay competitive in a dynamic market. As the value of new technology there is proven on a daily basis, other sectors are also interested in the opportunities to benefit from the same technology.
One of the sectors where digitisation can have a huge impact is the service sector. For many employees of service companies, automation can make them (to a greater or lesser extent) more productive. Many work processes of service companies consist of human activities, such as order picking, teaching and disease diagnosis. These operations can be largely automated, which means that these employees perform much more and the costs for consumers for these services can be reduced. That's the mechanism of efficiency: the more you can do within the same time, the lower the costs for the consumer in the end.
I read - and hear around me - more and more messages about the dying recruitment profession. Because what use are recruiters? They are especially expensive and annoying. And now redundant as well!
Recruitment is the job par excellence to automate. The demand side of labour is completely public. Just like the supply side. Long live the rise of online databases, Google and social media. Why does someone have to squeeze themselves in between? What smart software can that be? And even better: better, faster and much cheaper!
With this image in mind, I see many initiatives starting around me that think they are jumping into this 'gap in the market'. Especially in the ZZP market. A beautiful (or sometimes less beautiful...) website with a few subscription buttons and of course a clear pricing plan. Hoppa! Often, the launch of such a site is accompanied by some noise in news items and social media in which the negative aspects of recruiters and agencies are highlighted once more.
You already understand it; I don't believe in it. Of course there will be quite a few initiatives that are (partially) successful. And some parts of the recruitment process can indeed be further automated. Think of smart algorithms that candidates serve ready to use to the recruiter.
But in my opinion - and will continue to be - recruitment is always pure human work. For people and by people. And I don't say that because I am afraid of (the future of) my job. In fact: I am a strong advocate of technology and we ourselves at EO Netherlands have a job board where part of the process is automated.
No, I say it from my experience. Because if we just knock it down completely, I think the 'smart software' always lacks the three elements below:
Such a recruiter who does not give up and is completely stuck in a process. He or she uses his or her creativity and pulls out all the stops to get that person to work or to still fill that vacancy. Someone who in a substantive and positive way bends supply and demand towards each other. Because how often does it not happen that the client asks for something that actually turns out to be something else? And how often does it not happen that a candidate is advised by a recruiter to take another - perhaps even better - career path? The only thing such a piece of software will tell you: 'unfortunately there are no results...try again soon'.
Difficult to express in value, but so important. Talking to someone, listening to someone, looking into their eyes, showing interest, following them for a longer period of time. Stimulating someone, naming doubts and possibly removing them. Building a relationship. Software does not succeed.
I have heard some people shout: as if recruiters always act with such ethics and integrity. Certainly not all of them, that's right. But I would always like to have a real person who keeps an eye on things. Someone who personally supervises the application or recruitment and selection process. Not only a machine that makes decisions, but also a person of flesh and blood who has the best for you.
My personal conclusion remains: YES, recruitment is (and always will be) always people work. ✅