Job candidates jump through the hoops that companies and recruiters set up for them. Some have decided that they may only get one shot at gaining all of the information possible from a candidate and placed lots and lots of hoops at the application portion of the process. They go online to apply for the job, and in some cases, they stay involved in that application process for hours - uploading a resume, filling out an online application, answering pre-screen questions, providing social security numbers and other personal information, clicking on release form after release form after release form. Then, when they finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, they hit "Submit" and within 3 seconds they have received an email from the company.
Excitedly they go to check that email! They're thinking, "I'm so awesome and perfect for this job that it only took them 3 seconds to realize it!" But then they realize that it was just a generic email thanking them for applying...BUT THERE'S ANOTHER DING indicating another message just 2 seconds later! "This is it! They want me immediately!" The candidate reads the second email where they are told that they are not a match for the job. They invested hours to submit their application and it took 5 seconds to be told they weren't a fit.
Job seekers have come to experience the technology side of recruiting in a very real and personal way, but their adjustment to these new technologies has been slow. It has impacted their ability to gain interviews and offers where they might have in the past. There are no human exceptions in that initial screening any longer. It's black and white, cut and dry, yes or no.
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) now do much of the analysis on their own. They scan your resume and look for keywords that match the words found in the job description or specific words that a recruiter entered when creating the requisition. If you have a variation of that word that hasn't been entered as an acceptable term - you are out. They have weighted and scored pre-screen questions for candidates to answer. Some of these knock you out immediately if a wrong answer is given. If you answer the salary question and you are out of range by $500/year, you're out. There are no exceptions. Many times, these candidates are qualified for the jobs, they are just a victim of not pulling out a thesaurus to use every variation of a particular word within the confines of their resume. If human eyes had seen this resume, it would have been clear that this person should have been called in for an interview at the very least.
I'm not anti-technology. I think they are very much needed and appropriate for recruiting. But I do think we have gone too far in the use of technologies, and in doing so, reduced the human element to an after-thought. It should be a blend of high tech and high touch. The use of technologies should benefit the candidate by making the job widely known, speeding up the application process, and by helping them stay informed on their status throughout the process. They should not be used as an excuse for a recruiter to do less work. If I knew that I had a candidate in my requisition that was qualified and available, but they missed the compensation question by $500 a year - I'd still want to talk to that candidate 100 times out of 100! It would be insane not to. But many recruiters just accept the ATS's recommendation and never go back to look at some of those who barely missed for one reason or another.
Then, when we recruiters want to show just how caring an generous we really are...we give a resume the average 6 seconds of our time before throwing it in one of 2 stacks (keep or disqualified). 6 seconds...wow!
Let me ask you. If you were the candidate and your mortgage was coming due in 2 weeks, along with a car payment, 3 credit cards, and you were out of groceries, and you only had a few hundred dollars left in the bank...would you want your career, your home, the welfare of your family decided by the ATS robot or the overly generous 6 second recruiter? We deal with people. These are lives that we impact. It's called Human Resources for a reason, but unfortunately we remove the human from it way too often.
As our workforce continues to transition, it is imperative that we have that blend of technology and human interaction. The job seekers that we deal with now are demanding it. Remember all of those kids in the 90's that were on the little league baseball team or the pee wee football team? We decided that we needed to give them all a trophy, ribbon, or certificate. We wanted them to feel equal at all costs and to always feel good about themselves. We even stopped keeping score in some cases. Well, little Tommy and Susie aren't in junior soccer anymore - they're applying for your jobs. Their generation requires much more interaction and assurances than previous generations did. Our technology driven, no interaction systems that we've designed so we wouldn't have to talk with people just won't cut it with them.
Don't blame the robot in all of this. Robots do what they were designed to do. Blame the people who come up with the strategies and the processes and determined that Human Resources needed to minimize human interaction. Hate the game.