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Technology’s role in the modern job application process

Dean Sadler, CEO and founder of TribePad

The rise of technology has seen recruitment processes shift away from CVs towards online applications and greater use of technology overall. Job-boards, ATS platforms, video interviews, psychometric testing and more have become increasingly common to analyse, hire and find the best talent. But as we shift towards using more technology in the hiring process, we have to be wary about how much automation - and how much human interaction - candidates prefer.

Recent TribePad research called Hiring Humans vs. Recruitment Robots found that job-seekers welcome the use of technology at the start of the process. For example, job boards were the most popular way to apply for jobs, with over half (56%) of candidates using them. A similar number (49%) used Google Search as their preferred method. While Google search and job boards may be an unsurprising top two, they do say something about the nature of job searching today. Candidates aren’t necessarily making a beeline for a job they want with a company they want. Instead, they’re browsing, throwing out a broad net and seeing what might be out there for them.

But largely, technology at this stage is a welcome part of the process. It’s only further along the candidate journey that greater automation starts to be viewed with suspicion.

While job hunters use technology, they don’t necessarily trust it. In fact, 69% of us are of the opinion that automation in recruitment is useless, because people can cheat the system by amending their application. 

This sentiment is just the tip of the iceberg, beneath which lies a host of other issues about the impact technology is having on the job-finding process. There are concerns about decision making, human involvement, and screening in recruitment. All of which explain why one in ten people claim to have had a negative experience with automation when applying for a job.

However, what HR teams and job seekers must realise is that technology not only helps candidates to be found, it also enables them to showcase more of themselves, unhindered by the constraints of a traditional interview. This means being able to submit things like videos, documents, portfolios, website and sounds as part of their application. It also makes things easier for hiring teams, as these types of applications can be indexed and searched quickly.

These benefits are known by hiring teams, but not necessarily by candidates. Hiring teams therefore have a responsibility to do more to educate jobseekers about the benefits of using technology in the recruitment process, and work with tech providers to incorporate a solution that works for both sides.

The human decision should always be final

42% of us believe that recruitment decisions should be made by humans - not robots - with the same figure believing that automation dehumanises the recruitment process, with concerns it could end up screening in or out the wrong people. 

Even though there is no evidence for this, it presents a challenge to recruiters who use technology. Concerns are growing about who is making the decisions - with a widespread belief that a human should be behind the wheel. But this doesn’t mean that recruiters should shun tech. Instead, they have to understand more about where it’s most beneficial, and how to balance it with that crucial human touch. The key thing to remember is that technology should never replace humans, rather, it can be a valuable partner in enabling them to focus on the areas that matter most in their recruitment process.

In our research, we found that people are comfortable with a ‘bit of both’ in this process. 42% of respondents agree that automation in recruitment makes things easier, while only 23% said it makes it harder.

We also found that automation is particularly well suited to online tests (50%), such as psychometrics or personality tests, offer letters (33%) and right-to-work and criminal record checks (42%). On the other hand, eight out of ten (80%) applicants believe that face-to-face interviews should always be carried out by humans, including phone interviews (76%) and onboarding/new employee welcome experiences.

It’s on recruiters and hiring organisations to strike the right balance between automated processes and human interaction, ensuring that candidates can apply in a way that works for them. If organisations can do that, they can put candidates at ease with the tech they’re using to make the process smoother and easier. A win-win for all. 

In order to run an effective recruiting team - one capable of spotting the best talent from the hundreds and thousands of applications received on a daily basis - businesses have no choice but to consider how technology can help them optimise how they recruit. With remote working, freelancing and globalisation all on the rise, getting ahead of the game now and embracing automation will stand organisations in good stead as the race for talent accelerates in the future.

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