Computers and the internet have given us unparalleled productivity improvements. Anybody remember having to write obscure code for job requirements placed in newspapers? I do and I’m thankful for that simple improvement. But there are tasks that should not be performed by computers, especially in recruiting.

I was knocked off my chair recently when I read that results of research suggested automated hiring based on personality matching by computer was superior to that of human efforts in this area. The study, “Computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans”, by Wu Youyou, University of Cambridge; Michal Kosinski, Stanford University; and David Stillwell, University of Cambridge, postulated that Facebook “likes” were a more accurate assessment of personality type than could be achieved by friends or even spouses. That hiring decisions, so dependent on smoothly integrating a candidate into a team and company culture, could be better performed by computer assessment of Facebook activity than by an interview conducted by a professional recruiter. Yikes!

Even if this is the case – a conclusion with which I totally disagree — ensuring the alignment of a candidate with a company’s and team culture (while critical) is not at the top of the list of values provided by recruiters. I was reminded of a previous blog, “Why Recruiters are Still Valuable in a Social Media World” I wrote in June 2014. I made the point that social media tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are valuable productivity aids in researching candidates, but they don’t provide the most important services a professional recruiter delivers. I want to suggest again the list the top services of professional recruiters and the value they provide to clients.

Top Five Service Values Delivered by the Professional Recruiter

  1. Expertise – when you don’t know exactly what you need or how to qualify the candidate. Recruiters know the market for candidates and how to write a job description that fits not only your current needs but also the long term needs of your company. Additionally, we can assist candidates in making informed career planning decisions, serving as a grounding influence and an objective reference. For instance, in our business, all of our candidates are CFO-referred or CFO-referenced and pass the highest standards established by veteran professionals. For our IT candidates we have the same level of reference checking. This has proved invaluable for our clients and resulted in lower churn rates for these employees.
  2. Speed – even if you have a job description, access to current compensation surveys, and a LinkedIn company jobs page; do you have the time to sort through the hundreds of resumes? Using what criteria? Every day I am talking to the top performers in your industry; I know who is ready for a new assignment, who is open to a new challenge, who has been let go. I can deliver a slate of CFO-referred/referenced candidates quickly. Further, if you need interim coverage while making a decision we can keep your business at full speed with a consulting CFO placement.
  3. Confidentiality – I am frequently called on to do a proprietary search for a position; an unpublished job requirement. Why? Many companies regularly search the candidate market for available top performers. They are looking to upgrade their teams with exceptional talent, they want to know when key personal leave a competitor or want to avoid gaps when they anticipate an incumbent leaving. These jobs are not published on Monster, Indeed or even in newspapers. External recruiters can manage these proprietary searches, especially at senior levels, more effectively than in-house HR. I can call a top performer who’s currently employed and ask if they are open to a move without conflict or premature disclosure.
  4. Capacity – You are running a business, so am I; but my business is hiring. Do you want to become an expert in my business or outsource the task? I already mentioned the large number of resumes and need for filtering them. I do this every day, my candidate database is continuously updated. But there are dozens of additional ways a professional recruiter can assist you, for example, verified performance. As a hiring manager every candidate comes to you in “interview mode”, their best foot forward. A recruiter knows the candidates they are submitting, often for years. We know them out of interview mode and have verified performance, education, and experience. We also conduct initial interviews, benchmark performance to the market, write up offer letters (including necessary regulatory and legal language) and further we work with you during the on-boarding process insuring a cultural fit with your company.
  5. Compensation Negotiation – I have always been surprised that while we all work for a salary and not for free, less than 20% of posted job descriptions mention compensation. And if it’s mentioned it is in meaningless words like “the role will pay a competitive salary with benefits and equity stake”. A recruiter knows what the candidate is currently making, whether they are under, over or correctly compensated. We eliminate or significantly diminish the surprise rejection after you’ve found the best qualified candidate. I make sure there is general alignment between the company and candidate well before the offer letter.

To summarize let me give you an example. A mid-size business CEO approached me at a local executive leader’s forum with an urgent issue. She was losing her CFO and her bookkeeper and she needed to find someone fast in order to make sure there was overlap before the CFO left the business. Hearing of her urgency, I recommended an interim CFO until they could find a replacement. Because of our business model at CFOs2GO, where we provide a hybrid business offering of both consulting and recruiting services, I was able to place an interim CFO within two days allowing a full week of overlap. Since we had a long standing relationship with the interim CFO I was able to discover that the bookkeeper didn’t actually want to leave but was concerned about career advancement. Following an assessment of her skills, I recommended re-structuring the bookkeeping job to one of financial manager, adding responsibilities held by the CFO and re-structuring the CFO position to be more strategic in focus but part-time in terms of participation. They ended up outsourcing the part-time CFO role which saved them money overall. The net impact was an increase in experience at the CFO level, a highly motivated financial manager, and an overall reduction in payroll for the two positions. This is just one instance where a professional recruiter can be proactive and not simply fill the role, but rather fill the need. A computer simply does what it is told to do. A recruiter looks beyond the request, sees the underlying need and brings real value to the client as a result.

Professional recruiters will always be better than automated systems; at least that is my position. If you would like to discuss a situation in your business please give me a call or comment if you would like to extend the discussion. I also handle recruiting for CIOs2GO, an IT consulting services firm.