Back to the Basics: Making Recruitment About Real People Again

Back in 1998, the movie “Patch Adams” with Robin Williams was released. Do you remember seeing it? There’s a scene in the movie which still stands out in my mind today. Adams, played by Williams himself, sits down with a patient in a mental hospital named Arthur Mendelson. Mendelson has a habit of walking up to people, placing four of his fingers directly in front of their eyes and then asking them, “How many fingers do you see?”


Naturally, the answer everyone gives him is that there are four visible fingers. That said, later on in the film, intrigued by the peculiar exercise, Adams approaches Mendelson and asks to be shown the four fingers, once again. Mendelson obliges, only this time, he instructs Adams to, “look beyond the fingers.”

So, instead of focusing on Mendelson’s fingers, he looks past them and into Mendelson’s eyes. By so doing, his double-vision causes eight fingers to be seen.“Eight,” says Adams. With a look of approval, a noticeably satisfied Mendelson replies, “See what no one else sees. See what everyone chooses not to see out of fear, conformity or laziness.”


The Value of People

Yes, the scene is a bit of tear-jerker, but the principle that’s taught here is what truly matters most. Regardless of who you are, where you come from or what you’re about, at the center of all that’s done should be people. When they’re the focus, problems aren’t dwelt upon; moreover, they’re seen as a means through which people can benefit. After all, it’s only through them that genuine, long-lasting solutions can be found.


As an HR and recruitment professional with upwards of 20 years of industry experience, throughout my career, I’ve witnessed firsthand the importance of an honest focus not only on people, but on building relationships with them. From what I’ve seen, this is hands down the most effective way for work to be conducted.


The Current State of HR and Recruitment

With that in mind, in our current digital age of communication, there’s a painfully apparent disconnect that’s nearly wiped out the entire “human” aspect of “human resources.” Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing innately evil about job boards, social media and CRM programs, but when used as a mainstay of recruitment prowess, technology becomes more of a crutch for the lazy, and less of an enabling tool for the earnest HR professional.

In fact, to the surprise of few, the very people America’s finest HR teams are recruiting admittedly prefer to be treated as real individuals with specific skill sets, talents and interests.


Seriously, according to the 2015 DICE Tech Candidate Sentiment Survey, on average, 50 percent of candidates want recruiters do to more research about them before calling.

Furthermore, the exact same study also concluded that 62 percent of candidates wanted recruiters to—during an initial contact, at least—provide them with a better description of how their specific job skills matched the vacant position in question and separated them from other candidates. Basically, more than anything, they wanted evidence that their names hadn’t merely come up by way of some programmer’s complex algorithm.


There’s More Opportunity Now Than Ever Before

Sure, sites like OpenWeb, Facebook and LinkedIn can shed light on the details of a candidate’s qualifications, but at the end of the day, it will take more than some social stalking and search engine savvy for authentic results to be generated.

Take the last of the aforementioned platforms, for example. LinkedIn’s 2014 Talent Trends report concluded that 80 percent of the global workforce is passive in nature. This means that new employment opportunities weren’t actively being sought by the majority of the networking site’s users. Shockingly, per the same report, 85 percent of the same surveyors were completely open to a career change.


What does this mean for the field of HR and corporate recruitment? The market for talent acquisition is as immense as it’s ever been, but for you to make something of it, you now must do what few are willing to even contemplate—build meaningful relationships with people to then help them see why they’re the best fit for what you’re offering.


Putting People at the Center of Everything, Once Again

Simply put, people aren’t boxes. They can’t be compartmentalized. In few places is this truth more apparent than in the workplace. Obviously, the formalities of a job description should be addressed as closely as possible by a candidate’s abilities, but workplace culture, management style and personal approach also play an incredible role finding the perfect hire.


So as to consider the candidate and not only the résumé, in conjunction with the latest gadgets and gizmos, use some of the most basic, yet intimate of tools at your disposal—a hiring manager, telephone, email or even a cup of coffee. These are lines of direct communication that foster the building of relationships en route to brining the right personnel onboard.


As strange as it may sound to younger, more inexperienced HR representatives, before recruiting became a digital affair, face-to-face conversations and phone calls were the standard way to build relationships.

As a direct byproduct, the pace of things was both slower and more personable. Moving forward, HR departments and recruiters must make a conscious effort to not lose sight of the basics. Ironically, in today’s climate, this is what will set you apart from your competitors and help you put people back at the center of everything you do.


Parting Thoughts

It’s easy to see the problems with human connectivity that HR is facing, isn’t it? Interestingly enough, they’re just like Mendelson’s four fingers—apparent. The solution, however? Well, that’s where things get a bit trickier. Just as Adams needed to look beyond the obvious to focus on Mendelson as an individual, so too must professional recruiters cut through the clutter of technology’s latest advancements to see what drives everything they do—real people. The sooner the change can be made, the better.


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