Technology and Relationships are not Oil and Water
When I write posts about creating Boolean search strings to source and find talent/human capital – I often get responses from readers and those I train, especially staffing industry veterans who focus on executive search, that state that the foundation of recruiting is based on relationships built by human interaction and networking.
I couldn’t agree more.
Why does it seem to be ingrained in human nature to have an either/or mentality – as if things have to be one way or the other, but not both. Like phone sourcing vs database sourcing. You can and should do both, and I hope you are trying to contact and develop relationships with people identified via both methods.
If I wanted to be obtuse, I could argue that the phone is impersonal – and that to be a really good recruiter, I should never leverage the phone to make contact with people. Instead – I’ll just wander around looking for people to meet in person to establish a wonderful professional relationship with.
By the way – there isn’t anything instrinsically impersonal about leveraging technology to find or communicate with people. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s this thing called email that quite a few people use these days, and you know what? – it seems to work. I’ve also heard that there are millions of people communicating with something called text messaging, and that there are more text messages sent every day than phone calls made. How impersonal! :-)
Let’s face it – if it didn’t work, it wouldn’t exist and be used by so many people so often.
When I talk about leveraging technology for talent identification and acquisition, my primary point is NOT that it is a replacement for any other method of candidate identification, nor am I saying technology is a replacement for human interaction and relationship building. My point is that there is more and more information stored about more people somewhere electronically every day – and you can either learn how to harness the power of using Boolean logic to create search strings for Talent Mining that can ACCELERATE your ability to establish MORE relationships with MORE of the RIGHT people, MORE quickly…..or not.
Running Boolean queries on the Internet, an internal corporate candidate database, or an online job board to find people who meet and hopefully exceed your basic/minimum qualifications isn’t anti-relationship. In fact – it has nothing directly to do with relationships. It’s nothing other than a method of identifying people who are likely to be able to meet the needs of your organization or client. Nothing more, nothing less.
I will, however, say that if you are particularly adept at Boolean search strings and have access to 1 or more databases of significant size (50,000+ local candidates), you can more quickly find more qualified candidates than by any other method of candidate indentification. And being able to find a large number of well qualified candidates quickly enables you to begin to contact and build relationships with those people. It’s a competitive advantage for those who can do this, and a competitive disadvantage for those who cannot.
I love analogies, so I’ll use two here to drive my point home.
20 years ago, if you found something in your attic, closet, or basement that you no longer had a use for, but thought someone might pay money for it, you could try selling it at a garage sale, or perhaps put an ad in the local paper and see if it draws any interest.
Today, although you could try selling it at a garage sale or put an ad in the local paper, you could also put the item on Craig’s List, or on eBay. Arguably, you should probably try all 4 methods because you can’t predict where your highest bidder will come from. However, there is no arguing the point that we now have access to technology (the Internet and sites like eBay) that can more quickly expose you to more potential buyers than ever before. Now, one might draw more satisfaction from selling an item at a garage sale because they can meet the potential buyers in person, but let’s get real here – the main point is selling the item at the highest price possible (for most people – if not, just donate it). Exposing yourself to more and a wider variety of potential buyers does increase the statistical probability that you will encounter more opportunities to sell your item at a higher price. You can either have 20 people see the item at a garage sale, or 1000 people see it on eBay. It’s a no brainer. But why not do both?
20 years ago, if you were single and wanted to meet someone, you could head to a local hot spot where you might encounter people looking to do the same. Or you could get lucky and just happen to run into the “right” person at the grocery store, soccer field, DMV, whatever. In any of these cases, you’re really only exposing yourself to a relatively small number of people that just *happen* to be where you are at any point in time, and you literally have no control over whether the people you meet via this method are single and looking, nor do you have any control over the type of people you might encounter and your potential compatibility with any one of them. Meeting people is easy – meeting the RIGHT people isn’t so easy.
Today, if you are so inclined, you could leverage technology and try an online service such as EHarmony or Match.com. With either, you are in all likelihood exposing yourself to more people than you could if you just went to the local bar (coffee or otherwise). Also, with these services, you have some degree of control over your preferences and potential compatibility – it’s not a science – but it’s definitely better than making contact with random strangers out in public who you cannot tell if they are open to a relationship or not. Using an online service, the vast majority of people are actually looking for a relationship, and you can actually get to know someone before meeting them in person.
Using services like EHarmony and Match.com isn’t a replacement for meeting people in person and establishing relationships – in fact, it’s about accelerating and facilitating your ability to potentially meet more of the right people – people who are looking for a relationship and people who are looking for a relationship as well, people who you may not every run into otherwise, and people who may be more compatible with you based on their profile? Yes, I am sure it’s not all accurate, but neither are resumes. Wow – this analogy is really getting good!
So – if you were single and looking for a relationship – why not be ready to meet and potentially get to know people you run into as you go about your normal daily routine at work and out in public AND leverage technology to expose yourself to even more people more quickly – people who are looking for a relationship as well and people you may not otherwise ever have the chance to cross paths with? You can’t predict where and when you will meet your soul mate – but why not play the odds and work with a larger sample of the population?
You may be unfamiliar, uncomfortable, or inexperienced with recruiting and staffing technology – there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But there is no denying that when properly leveraged, technology can typically help you do things faster, better, more often, and more accurately. In the case of talent identification and acquisition – aka sourcing and recruiting – you can choose to embrace technology or not. Your choice should be made based on personal perference and the FACTS – not in a belief that somehow using technology and information systems is impersonal and is anti-relationship. That would be silly. Or some other word starting with “s.”
Make no mistake – properly trained sourcers and recruiters who are skilled in the art and science of Talent Mining – running Boolean search strings in resume databases and on the Internet – can find more and more accurately qualified candidates more quickly than with any other method of candidate identification. That gives them the ability to begin to establish contact with and build relationships with more of the right people more quickly – a competitive advantage over people who do not or cannot leverage information systems.
True – you can find and contact candidates via phone sourcing and referral recruiting that you cannot find online, on LinkedIn, or in a resume database somewhere. Ah – but the knife cuts both ways…the converse is also true, so there is no inherent advantage of “exclusivity” for either method over the other. However, I will say that because of the speed, accuracy, and volume advantages of Talent Mining, sourcers and recruiters leveraging information systems automatically gain the advantage of accelerated and higher volume referral recruiting and networking opportunities as a result. Sweet.
Be advised – recruiting and staffing technology and information systems are not going away. They are not only here to stay – expect them to evolve and advance rapidly. The recruiting and staffing industry isn’t going back to paper resumes and faxes. Every day, there is more information about more people made available electronically somewhere – on the Internet, in a Social Network, or in an internal candidate database. And you either know how to quickly and precisely leverage these information systems to find the right people at the right time or you don’t.
If you can’t, or simply don’t by choice – don’t use the excuse that technology is impersonal and that the recruiting industry is based on relationships. We all know that. But thankfully today we have technology available, that when properly utilized, can help sourcers and recruiters to more quickly find and contact and build relationships with more of the right people.