TailorIt’s easy to get swept away in all the great new recruiting technology we have at our fingertips these days: video interviews, highly advanced ATSs, Boolean social media search engines, etc., etc.

But according to ManpowerGroup’s 2014 Candidate Preference Survey, talent acquisition professionals would do well to keep their strategies grounded in the human: 9 in 10 candidates prefer more traditional and personal approaches to recruiting.

A special thank you goes out to this month’s Leadership Sponsor, Zoho Recruit. Please visit their site to understand how their quality services can elevate your recruitment practices.

zoho“People like to be personally touched in the recruiting process and have that be a very human interaction,” says Kate Donovan, senior vice president of ManpowerGroup and global RPO president. The double-blind survey cut across multiple demographics, industries, and career levels and found Donovan’s statement to hold true almost universally.

Not only do candidates prefer personal recruiting: they’re also far more comfortable with more direct forms of employer/candidate interaction. On a scale of 1-5, candidates were most comfortable with in-person interviews with hiring managers (4.41) and phone screenings with recruiters (4.02). They were least comfortable with newer hiring technologies, like video resumes (2.65).

‘Tradition Trumps Technology’

At least, it does when it comes to recruiting, according to ManpowerGroup’s survey. But why does the human touch matter so much to candidates?

According to Donovan, the answer is that, for most of people, jobs are more than just ways to make money.

“Once you get past the family relationship … a great deal of who [someone is] as a person is wrapped up in their job,” Donovan says. “We all spend so much time [at work].”

People take their professions very personally, because those professions play such large roles in their lives. And so, it makes sense that candidates want a “high-touch experience” when it comes to recruiting: they’re not seeking new paychecks; they’re seeking new lives, in a sense.

What can employers do with this information? Donovan says they can use it to become stronger competitors in the war for talent: “How do you attract the kind of candidate you want? One very compelling strategy is to offer a high-touch experience.”

Striking a Balance 

Candidates may prefer personal, high-touch recruiting experiences, but that doesn’t mean talent acquisition professionals should throw all of their high-tech tools away. Donovan says that, in order to make recruiting as efficient as possible, savvy recruiters and HR departments need to strike a balance between the personal and the technological.

“HR departments that house talent acquisition and recruiters do not have infinite resources,” Donovan says. “You have to be very efficient in all that you do. For an employer looking to attract candidates, you have to look at the data, prioritize, and make decisions about how you offer the best experience to candidates, but do that in an efficient way.”

Technology enters the recruiting process at a number of crucial moments. In fact, technology is often the first way that candidates come into contact with employers: according to the ManpowerGroup survey, 86 percent of candidates go to employers’ websites first when researching new employment opportunities.

“Employers want to make that website as engaging as possible and give candidates what they’re looking for,” Donovan says. “[Candidates are] looking for a feel for the company; they’re looking for an appropriate description of open positions. Having a strong website that reflects the employer’s brand and is attractive to candidates is a key approach.”

Technology is also valuable in sourcing efforts. Donovan says that employers should use technology to segment their candidates — i.e., figure out what kind of candidates they are looking for and where those candidates hang out online. Once employers know where to look and whom to look for, they can use their technological tools to create a very efficient sourcing process.

“[Employers] also might use [technology] to screen candidates at a high level,” Donovan adds. “If you’re recruiting hundreds of positions, you obviously can’t interview everyone. You need to get some efficiencies in terms of screening that candidate pool to a really good group of viable candidates.”

When employers whittle the talent pool down to the best group of candidates, that’s when recruiters and HR departments can bring in the high-touch human element.

Crafting a Tailored Recruiting Experience

“Basically, what recruiters have to think about is [the fact that] they are salespeople for their company,” Donovan says. “They need to present a compelling vision and customer value proposition for the potential candidate.”

Talent acquisition professionals can present compelling visions by remembering that recruiting is not “one size fits all” — it’s “one size fits one,” according to Donovan.

“You need customized approaches for job families, so to speak, or specific types of jobs,” Donovan says. “The way that you can do that is to have recruiters who really understand that field of expertise and who can connect with candidates in terms of the industry and the profession.”

Such recruiters can use the language that candidates use, and they have good understandings of what is occurring in a candidate’s specific job market. “They can translate [this information] to the employer value proposition and the employer brand for that particular market,” Donovan says.

Another key component of high-touch recruiting: being “extraordinarily responsive.” Communication is fundamental to a positive candidate experience.

“Even if the outcome is negative, if [a candidate] feels that they’ve been respected and communicated with, they have a positive experience,” Donovan says.

In a fierce war for talent, recruiting becomes “a wooing process,” Donovan says. Employers need to create relationships with candidates. And relationships are “one-on-one” — they’re not generic or disengaged. Hence the importance of personal, high-touch recruiting.

But technology plays a role in relationship-building, too: “In order to facilitate recruiters developing those relationships, they have to be as efficient as possible in the sourcing and administrative processes associated with recruiting as well,” Donovan says.

Ultimately, Donovan says that talent acquisition professionals who know how to balance the high-tech and the personal will see the most success with today’s candidates: “Those who blend efficient sourcing tools with high-touch when you get that qualified, interested, and available candidate, I think that’s the best blend that you can look for.”

A special thank you goes out to this month’s Leadership Sponsor, Zoho Recruit. Please visit their site to understand how their quality services can elevate your recruitment practices.

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