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Ahoy! Automation Overboard: The Unintended Dangers of Automating Recruiting

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As many facets of daily life have become automated (think banking, shopping, prescription refills, etc.), so has recruiting.

Online job applications, job boards, and vendor management systems have become the norm. Can you imagine acquiring your greatest asset (your employee) without ever having had human contact with them? In effect, these systems are designed to do just that.

But all of this efficiency and automation is not without consequences.

Too Many Resumes

Today, an online posting can reach far more potential candidates than the newspaper classified ads of the past.

This is a double-edged sword. Hiring managers say they regularly receive 200 – 300 resumes for a single position from an online job posting. But quantity does not equal quality. Many of these candidates will not have the proper experience, cultural fit, or qualifications needed.

Unclear Job Descriptions, Unqualified Candidates

Job descriptions for similar roles across different companies vary wildly. You’re likely to find companies are seeking different desired skills and years of experience for what appear to be nearly identical jobs.

Then factor that each company (and even departments within a company) has a unique corporate culture, and you’ll discover it is tricky to find the perfect candidate based on a job description alone.

Where Job Descriptions Go Wrong

Many job descriptions either fail to zero in on the three to five must-have skills or are too generic. Some are a wish-list that set a bar so high no one person could reach it. A clear, precise description will help jobseekers better evaluate if the position is a match for their skill sets and career goals.

Lack of Access Wastes Time

Many companies using automated vendor management systems prohibit any contact

between hiring managers and recruiters. As a result, hiring managers in companies with restricted access will spend more time reviewing the resumes of or interviewing unqualified applicants.

Not Following Through With Candidates

With hundreds of resumes received for each opening, most companies can’t or don’t follow-up with every single applicant anymore — some don’t even acknowledge that the application was received.  

If your company fails to follow-up, it could damage your brand. In the days of social media, individuals no longer tell nine people about a bad experience — they tell 900!

Fortunately, the pendulum seems to be swinging back. I’ve talked with many companies who implemented an automated system with the belief it would solve all their problems, create a fair playing field, and increase efficiency. They later realized it lowered the program’s quality and have made changes to improve the candidate, hiring manager, and recruiter experience.


There is no question that vendor management tools provide valuable visibility and increased efficiency — to a degree. Companies can now understand their spending habits, compliance adherence, and what percentage of applicants are within acceptable rate ranges.

However, it is important to recognize that recruiting is an imperfect science and that restricting human contact can have unintended impacts on efficiency and hiring manager satisfaction.

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