Why the old recruitment model is broken

by | Sep 21, 2016

An open letter to anyone vaguely interested in a new job

Mark and I have both worked in the career industry for twenty years (I started when I was 4, Mark was a couple of years older). Back then there were aspects of the process that felt out-dated and clunky. Pan forward to now and it has deteriorated beyond recognition

Of course, now we have more technology and the benefit of automation. But to me that has taken away some of the more positive aspects of the ‘old way’

Having stepped sideways to offer more candidate led services for the past seven years, it is amazing (and not in a good way) to see how impersonal recruitment has become

The advent of email applications and then software that allowed mass distribution of CVs and multiple applications, was one of the things that broke recruitment for the recruiters amongst us

Imagine if you will the very old days (before our time)…
You had to type your CV on a typewriter. You weren’t a typist. It took a long time and perhaps more than a little swearing. Once created you had to distribute them – by hand or by snail mail (which was just called ‘mail’ back then). The effort required meant you weren’t sending very many! Anyway, who would you send them to? There would only be a handful of visible jobs. You would consider them all. Discount most. Apply to the chosen few. It’s possible you would hear back from most of your applications. You might even get interviews with them all…
NB: You would probably only embark on this process when you were really looking for new job

Then came email. Job boards. Automation. And a world where everyone has access to everything. Oh dear!

All of a sudden it is quicker to apply for a job than it is to think about whether you want to do that role anyway. Untargeted CVs fly through the ether and find their way to inboxes or databases to die a fast and forgettable death by the thousand

Ten years ago it was usual to receive 300 CVs for one job advert. On a good day 2 would be relevant!

Today you can receive 300 CVs to your LinkedIn inbox with no advert at all…

The answer to this has been more automation and depersonalisation of the process

What I’ve noticed is that some people start looking for a new job using the old mindset. Consider all the highly-relevant visible jobs. Discount most. Apply to a chosen few. And wait for the familiar reply saying you’re successful, unsuccessful, come and see us, never contact us again… but instead comes nothing. Not a thing. Nada. Zip!

At some point desperation sets in and the applications become more frequent, are not as thought out and are made to less relevant roles. The same nothing becomes the now oh-so-familiar reply

You feel depressed, despondent, confused, disappointed, desperate *delete as appropriate

When did your previously desirable skillset become so disinteresting?

Are you too old? Too young? Too qualified? Too inexperienced? Too tall? Are your toenails too long?

You try and reach one of the industry recruiters via phone. There are no phone numbers on the website. If you do find a number either no one answers, or the person you need to speak to is on another call… they never call you back

It’s broken

If you have even contemplated changing jobs in the last five years you know this better than I do

The sad truth is the more jobs you apply for, the worse it becomes for all of us

Many recruiters and recruiting companies either ask you to apply via their website – which puts your resume straight onto their database. Or, if you send an email, have software that automatically takes your CV straight from the inbox it landed in, onto their database. Both ways mean no one needs to read your lovingly crafted, probably highly-irrelevant-to-that-job resume

Unless you have the correct number of the right keywords in your CV it’s gone… for somewhere in the region of forever

People talk about solutions; some I’ve heard include font and type size used in your resume. If you heard that, let me tell you, you were closer to the answer when you were thinking about the length of your toenails

Bar targeting specific companies and camping out in their executive car park, waiting to pounce on one of their c-suite on their way into work – which we should point out, can come with a restraining order – what can you do?

Somewhere back in time, recruitment was being made more effective and more efficient by technology. In the desire to be bigger, better, faster, more, we’ve created a monster unrecognisable as anything that should exist in a people / service based industry

What we have is so impersonal. Good people are lost in a cloud because they didn’t rank for keywords someone assigned to a job. Even though the real reason anyone is a good hire has more to do with their character than their skills learnt up until today

How can we unbreak this industry? Other than having a phone call / meeting / coffee with every single person who ever messages us – believe me, I would meet you all if I was totally immune to caffeine and had 194 hours in the day

How can we reinvent the industry so we return to recruiting people for their character, ability and potential instead of interviewing a few people who know how to write keywords?

Mark and I want to do everything in our power to

  1. help you and
  2. find a solution to what to us has become one of the biggest employment issues of our time

Please tell us your ideas. Other than:

  • Insisting that everyone have a beautifully written, highly targeted, specifically focused LinkedIn profile (which works like magic!)
  • Or moving the entire industry from paper documents, to video (which is what we would do)

What would you do?

Julie Holmwood

Julie Holmwood is a Director at MLT Associates. Having worked in the career industry for 20 years; as a frontline recruiter, international headhunter and supplier of client and talent services – she has extensive knowledge of the hiring lifecycle

Julie is a frequent writer and contributor to multiple on and offline publications and is the author of Clickst@rt Your Career and Get That Interview; both available as paperback, kindle and audio books on Amazon and Audible

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