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Beware Recruiters! The Robots Are Coming!

By November 24, 2016One Comment

Or not, depending on your particular point of view. Or more realistically, depending on how many clicks you are trying to get on your article. Or how many eyeballs you’re trying to direct to your snazzy new bauble that will supposedly disrupt us recruiters and the recruitment industry. Again.

I’ve read so many articles in recent years about something or other new on the market disrupting the traditional recruitment industry that I wonder how there’s anything left to disrupt. Talk about flogging a dead horse.

The strange truth, though, is that the sense I am getting from recent interactions with recruiters, at places like the SEEK Awards, at our own PowWow networking events, and even last night at the “house warming” party for an agency client’s new office opening, is that the industry is actually in pretty rude health. In fact I’d say it’s feeling the most buoyant it has since 2008 slouched along and spoiled the pre-recession party.

Australian recruitment trainer and industry commentator Ross Clennett likes a good rant against these kinds of articles and earlier this month released a brilliant tirade on New Zealander Sharon Davies of Talent Propellor. It’s well worth a read, especially with your Friday drinks in hand.

In the same week I also had another senior industry operator, this one a manager in a large RPO, highlight this article on LinkedIn from the UK-based Simon Young entitled “The Recruitment Industry to Die in 2018”.

Thanks to the dramatic title and the author’s frequent use of the word LinkedIn, this has shown up in many people’s news feeds. And let’s face it, even an article with a title like this is going to appear like a scintillating read in amongst the stupid quiz questions, pithy quotes, and tedious revelations of “self-made” people showing pictures of their BMW and 3-bed Semis as proof they have made it.

The trouble is, the actual content of this article is utter tosh. An example:

“Recruitment is now an old man, he’s done really well and made a load of friends during his life, he’s had it all – money, even stardom! But his kids ‘Social Media’ and ‘Digital Marketing’ put him in a nursing home a couple of years ago and are having the conversation about when to come over and pull out the life support plug……”

Even stardom!  The thing is, my very mention of this article is playing into this guy’s hands. You see Simon runs “a successful [his words] digital agency with a passion for ROI from lead generation, social and SEO.”  So whilst everyone shares and comments and “likes” this article he can sit back and show his customers the analytics, the hits, the views, the virality of his content and thereby win more business.

Image result for recruitment robot

That’s fair enough. But the other thing about these articles is no-one is ever held accountable to them any more. Like recent PR messes in the recruitment industry where the accepted wisdom seems to be to lie low and ride out the bad publicity, everyone reads this stuff and then quickly moves on.

Well I for one will give Simon the benefit of the doubt. I’ll let this article fade away as they all eventually do, until another one springs up. But this time I’m placing a reminder in my calendar for 2018 to revisit the health of the recruitment industry, feel it’s pulse, and see whether it really is at death’s door. In fact I’ll even leave it until 1st November 2018, and give him two full years for his prediction to come true, at least give the chap a sporting chance.

I suggest you all do the same too, if you can be bothered, and if you’ve read this far. My prediction is that recruitment, and especially the human role within it, will be alive and kicking still. Then let’s see what people like Simon have to say. Except by then his SEO agency will probably be run by robots… Oh well c’est la vie.

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.

One Comment

  • Timely article. One of our clients in the USA went through a strategic review. He realised that ink his field of warehouse staffing robots we’re already changing the landscape. So he bought a couple of co-bots and now offers them as an alternative to human resources for a fraction of the rate.

    On the flip side as AI develops personality profiles, learns more about our individual skill sets; you’d have to be naive to think that AI won’t significantly change the way businesses source and hire new talent.

    BUT I agree that the human element of human resourcing won’t be going away for some time yet.