Skip to main content

The Shifting Sands of Candidate Communication

By July 13, 2017No Comments

Your usual blogger is AWOL once again this week, so it’s up to me to battle through 500 non-libellous words.

The world is awash with recruitment technology currently; An endless list of start-ups attempting to use automation and AI to replace or enhance the fat-tie-knotted recruitment barbarians of old. A new one brought to my attention this week, fighting out of Indianapolis, is Canvas.

The app, from Canvas Talent Inc, allows recruiters to interview candidates via text, whilst recording the transcript on an ATS, and has already been embraced by the online restaurant reservation platform OpenTable. Many businesses have been using screening technologies to create shortlists for years, but this latest effort attempts to replace the good old telephone screen. And by reading opinions on the product, we’re shown how quickly both our industry, and the society which it mirrors, is evolving. Not so long ago, “text” was the bastion of the shirking coward. Pulling a sicky? Text your boss about your issue “down stairs”. Remotely setting off a roadside IED? Text 0800JIHAD.

However, this new, yet somehow cosily old skool technology, is praised by at least one commentator as delivering both a better candidate experience than a traditional interview, and also, a more personal touch

I’m on the fence.


Part of me wants to run to the hills. How can banging out texts into the ether replace the tingle of excitement after that first phone chat with “the one”? How are we to make an assessment over substance, credibility, charisma? Are we even texting the candidate or their more eloquent older sister? And what other parts of the process will turn into “lol”-infested texts?  Sure enough, if we start the recruitment process with a text, we sure as hell will end it with one. The other part of me wants to embrace a new, perhaps smarter way of doing business. A call no longer trumps a text for many. We recruiters pride ourselves on being master communicators, and part of communicating effectively involves picking the right channel for our audience. Letting our dogmatic views on old fashioned appropriateness could be doing us a disservice. Maybe our candidates want a selfie, and we’re sending them flag semaphores.  Likewise, I’m a firm believer in the streamlining of the recruitment process. Providing we can remain respectful, technology which gives time back to the recruiter can only mean a better service to a client. A better service to a client should result in more interesting roles for our candidates.

This reminded me of a recent conversation with a couple of recruiters. These two company directors are the masters of the candidate and client “catch up”. Sometimes, like the GFC never happened, they’re known to have a couple of sherries with these clients and candidates. And they do it very well.

I had a confession to make. I don’t have many coffee “catch ups” with placed candidates. If you see me marching along Queen Street, purposefully striding past charity muggers and the homeless, I’m probably not on my way to “check in” with a client. It’ll be cheat day and I’m havin’ me a Carl’s Jnr. I find my time is better spent at my desk and on my phone. As nice and potentially productive it is to check in and catch up, for me, history has demonstrated that I need plenty of desk time to maintain and then deliver a healthy pipeline of work.

Placed candidates have criticised my lack of face to face catch ups. To use my second nautical analogy, sitting in a pub all day, getting drunk with the local fishermen sounds like a rare ol’ time. That is, until you want to actually buy some fish. Yes, we are sounding boards, advisors, and industry experts. However, to our candidates, we are also a means to an end. And sometimes they need us to put down the frappuccino, and go catch their next f*cking fish. Maybe I’m a text-based recruiter after all.

Regardless of which side of the fence you sit, times are changing. Any recruiter wanting to stay relevant, will have to change with it.

Have a good weekend one and all.