Finding the Balance Between High-Tech and High-Touch in Hiring

By Lin Grensing-Pophal February 1, 2018
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​It may seem counterintuitive in this digital age, but even Millennials and Generation Z job seekers are yearning for more person-to-person than person-to-device connections.

Personal, face-to-face or voice-to-voice interactions, of course, are more time-consuming and subject to variation than digitally aided communications. Consider, for instance, larger employers recruiting for dozens—if not hundreds—of open positions across multiple locations and generating a virtual bottomless pit of applications and inquiries. Can a balance between high-tech and high-touch be found?

Amy Glaser, senior vice president with Adecco Staffing USA in Jacksonville, Fla., says yes. "[Leaning] into high-tech options ensures candidates receive a high-touch experience," she said. "We use artificial intelligence to expedite the beginning of the apply process, so recruiters are not bogged down by busy work. This allows recruiters the time to develop real connections with applicants and, in turn, they are providing an authentic human experience in this candidate-driven market."

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It's really not an either/or equation, said Rachel Russell, executive director of corporate strategy with Allegis Group, a global staffing and recruitment firm based in Hanover, Md. "Recruiting Millennial and Gen Z talent is not a matter of digital versus personal communication. It is a matter of setting up a process, involving both human interaction and digital tools, to better listen to, engage and empower the success of the talent you seek," she said. "If you can do that, you will have an advantage over many employers in attracting and retaining Millennial and Gen Z workers."

Laura Handrick, an HR analyst with Fit Small Business, an information site for small businesses based in New York City, agreed that the issue of high-tech versus high-touch doesn't need to be thought of as either/or. For instance, she points out: "Companies are no longer flying all the candidates in for interviews, but instead using video conferencing technology to make their initial assessments."

Adecco is using a digital assistant, Mya, said Glaser, to provide immediate responses to applicants. "The key to the modern human touch is understanding how to create connections via the digital world," she said. "The program allows us to easily screen applications and provide human engagement at the rapid pace candidates expect in the digital age."

It's an efficient precursor to human interaction. "If an AI application can take on the more mundane aspects of recruiting, and a mobile application can keep candidates constantly apprised of their status in the process, that establishes a higher level of trust," Russell said. Importantly, she added: "It also frees the recruiter to spend more time forging those person-to-person relationships."

It's likely not technology itself that serves to turn off candidates, but how that technology is used and whether it aligns seamlessly with the experiences they have with real people. For instance, does the information that candidates receive via texts, e-mails and websites align with what they're hearing from HR staff and hiring managers?

"The goal is to build a personalized customer experience for the candidate. That means easy access, simple communication and quick follow-up," Russell said.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a freelance writer in Chippewa Falls, Wis.

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