Most people think recruiters spend their days calling their contacts to ask for candidate referrals (because that’s one of the most visible activities of a modern recruiter). Yes, recruiters do often ask, “Who do you know who might want this job?” But relying on this question invariably excludes some very well-qualified candidates. By itself, the recruiting approach leads to very narrow thinking and tiny little homogenous candidate pools, because we all tend to know people who are demographically similar to us. I consider this to be recruiting malpractice.
In times of economic uncertainty, the real danger is thinking too narrowly about who to consider and excluding highly qualified candidates who don’t fit your preconceived notions. A recruiter’s role is to expand a client’s options. A recruiter's toolkit needs to challenge their thinking and broaden their horizons. That’s why artificial intelligence tools are embedded in the work of almost every sophisticated corporate recruiter and modern executive search firm. And with good reason.
No matter what they are doing in the world, candidates are leaving behind a little trail of digital breadcrumbs. And big-data-driven artificial-intelligence-powered technology vendors are racing to vacuum up that information, make sense of it, and offer it to recruiters. Instead of relying on a small number of individual referrals, algorithms surface large numbers of potential candidates for consideration. The tools all have their flaws but when used properly, they can help expand the universe of potential candidates to consider. And compared with asking, “Who do you know?” they also represent a big step forward by deliberately including traditionally underrepresented candidates.
A data-driven recruiting process is far more adaptable to rapidly changing job market conditions because it’s more likely to recruit a larger, more diverse slate of candidates from a wider range of backgrounds. To illustrate what happens behind the scenes in a modern executive search firm, our candidate research team produced this short video to outline their work during a typical search process. (You’ll notice how hard they work to challenge their personal assumptions and expand their own thinking of who could be considered.)
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