The Dehumanization of Online Recruiting

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Abusive words on chalkbaord pointing at little boyAs he sat at the dinner table listening to his wife and kids talk about their days, John didn’t really hear a word they were saying, as he couldn’t keep his mind from wandering back to the big decision he had made earlier that afternoon. After years of complacency in his job and after years of dreaming about providing a better living for his family, he had finally done it. Despite his fears, reservations, and resistance to change, the day had finally come and he couldn’t wait another minute to share it with his family! 

“Honey, kids, I have a little announcement to make: You know how you have all been telling me for years that I am really good at what I do and that I should expect more from myself? Well, I finally listened and I am happy to announce (drum roll please)… that I completed an online application for a new job today!!” Although he was a little nervous that he hadn’t received a response yet to the job he applied for, it had only been a few hours and he felt confident it was just a matter of time. After all, he completed every, stinking question, over 40 minutes it took.  Yep, he’ll get it; why wouldn’t he? Hitting the refresh button one last time, he put the phone away so he could savor the moment! And for that night, the inevitability of a better life to come was celebrated; and for one night, the kids were proud of their dad, the wife proud of her ambitious husband…

Unfortunately for John, he would never hear anything back from his application.  And despite his frustration, he would go on to apply to another, and another, and another job, all with the same outcome.  Actually, he did receive one response letting him know that his resume had been received, but unfortunately there were other candidates who were more qualified…

“More qualified candidates? How could they possibly know that, they have never even met me?  I even bought an interview suit, not that I needed it…  Boy what I would do to get THAT $200 back. What a waste? And wouldn’t you know it, suddenly after 8 years I can’t stand my current job anymore. Ugh…

John, like millions of hard working human beings throughout the country, knows his craft extremely well. And if you asked his boss, he would tell you that John is invaluable.  Unfortunately what John didn’t know was how to effectively market himself. He had never actually created a resume in the past so he skipped over this step since it was “optional”. He didn’t have all of the dates, so he took his best guess. Typing was never his thing (nor was it important to his job), so he didn’t notice the misspellings and incorrect formatting issues.

While John was lamenting his failures to find a new job and losing interest in his current job following his mental “check out” inspired by the decision to get a new job, a very different conversation was taking place within ABC Company, the company that John had initially applied to:

As the recruiter within ABC Company prepared for her meeting with the hiring manager responsible for the job John had attempted to apply to, she pulled her reports and looked them over one last time. She was VERY proud of her efforts and surely he would be pleased. After all, since posting the job two weeks earlier on a variety of career advertising resources, she had registered over 1,500 views of the job, over 400 external clicks, and over 250 completed applications.

Of these, she was able to use high-level sorting criteria to instantly get that number down to 50 of the most “qualified” applicants. These were further screened by her “trained eye” to get the list down to five, just what the hiring manager had asked for! She sure hoped it went well; after all, once implementation started on the new ATS, things were going to get tight around here.

If I want to keep my job I better make sure I am delivering solid metrics, she thought. At least I was able to get my cost per click down under $0.30 this month. Oh well, better check my hair one more time; I really need to make a good impression.

Somewhere along the way, many in our industry have forgotten something very important:  Behind every “click” there is a living, breathing human being who is applying to that job in the hope of putting themselves into a better position. Instead, hardworking, qualified candidates like John are no longer job applicants new to this “job search process;” instead they are low quality $0.25 clicks.

And while corporate recruiting departments analyze their dashboards to see how many thousands of “clicks” they got the day before, countless American citizens, many of whom are highly qualified candidates but poorly qualified “job seekers,” continue to wallow in uncertainty, doubt, and confusion as their career confidence wanes from a lack of understanding, feedback, or opportunities to even get an interview.

Bottom line: Job seekers, whether passive or active, are NOT commodities to be measured like grain, flour, or sugar. They are human beings who are looking for a job or looking to expand their careers. Unfortunately, searching for a job is not an easy thing to do, a byproduct of which is that meritocracy is somehow a forgotten concept, replaced by speed, volume, and sexy dashboards.

In the end, job seekers are evaluated less for their skills than for their ability to market themselves.

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Mark Anderson is a seasoned recruitment marketing strategist with over 18 years of sales, sales leadership, and business development experience, currently serving as the vice president of employer sales for . The majority of Mark’s time over the past 13 years has been spent in sales leadership roles supporting experienced sales teams selling complex recruitment marketing and advertising strategies, including HR technology solutions. Mark’s specialties include the architecture of scalable, nationally focused sales teams, on-line marketing strategies, development of strategic alliances and sales channels, HR technology integrations, advertising strategies, and employment branding strategies.