“The weird thing about most companies that sell new recruiting tools is that they don’t really understand the value they are delivering. They’ve never been recruiters.” – John Sumser

Can you tell the difference between new recruiting technology and pornography? If you listen to the ‘old school’ bunch, there’s not that much. Like porn, new recruiting technology promises the delivery of your fantasy. Often, it’s mostly in your mind.

The weird thing about most companies that sell new recruiting tools is that they don’t really understand the value they are delivering. If that sounds odd to you, try to remember having a discussion about having children with someone who didn’t have them. No matter what you say, it’s impossible to convey the realities that become obvious once you are a parent.

The folks who sell and deliver recruiting stuff usually have it one step worse than that. Their job involves telling someone who is a parent about having children when they don’t have them. For most vendors of recruiting tools, the value is hypothetical.

They’ve never been recruiters.

That doesn’t mean that new recruiting tools and techniques are a bad idea. Far from it. You just can’t look to your suppliers to understand what you’re getting. No matter how much they tell you you can.

The past 20 years of recruiting history are about the evolution of the recruiter from information processor to proactive marketer. Beginning with the fax machine, which enabled recruiters to move information more quickly, the first steps were about speed. Once the industry was firmly fixed in the 21st century (with universal email), speed of data delivery became a standard, not a differentiator.

And, that’s the first thing that you should know about recruiting technology. When you have it first, it sets you apart from the competition. When you get it last, you’re just keeping up with the Joneses.

Once speed ceased to be an issue, recruiters began to focus on productivity. It’s no accident that the kerfuffle about being on the receiving end of the fire hose followed the universal adoption of email. In the early 1990s, the recruiter with the most resumes always won. By 2002, the question had changed to relevance.

2017-04-21 HRExaminer photo img sumser john bio pic IMG 3046 black and white full 200px.jpg

John Sumser is a Principal Analyst for HRExaminer.

That’s where sourcers got their real start. Although there were visionary players (like Shally) in the 1990s, sourcing came into its own in the 21st century. The right slate of candidates became increasingly important.

The thing that you should notice about this retelling of the story is that each improvement resulted in more precise work being done by the recruiter. Each step forward in technology creates a deeper specialty in recruiting.

It used to be that you could place a newspaper ad and wait for the results. Today, you have to build your own audience, maintain relationships with them and reach out when the demand arises.

Technology does not make recruiting easier. It makes it better and more precise. Great tools increase the level of detail that can be managed.

Techology expands the things that a recruiter can do. It makes them do-able at the desktop. It increases both the acountability and responsibility that can be accorded a recruiter.

That means that the value in video interviewing doesn’t really have much to do with video. It means that social recruiting is less about social and more about precision targeting. It means that workflow systems are about making sense not making processes. It means that communities, even though they require relationships are not about relationships. They’re about supply chain management and just in time inventories.

Most vendors sell functionality and the benefits of the functionality. They have a hard time understanding the real value of their products.

But you can always be sure that the technology is never about the functionality.

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