Technology can’t replace engaging with manager

Technology can’t replace engaging with manager

Artificial Intelligence is easily the hottest term in HR Tech. All the categories – Sourcing, ATS, HCM, assessments, video interviewing – are feverishly looking for ways to inject AI and machine learning into all of their products. There is a great benefit to automating a lot of the tedious, time-consuming tasks on the plate of recruiters.

Sourcing and matching candidates to positions can consume vast amounts of time, so using AI to do the heavy lifting makes a lot of sense. However, people don’t get hired until a manager makes a decision. It starts with convincing an aloof candidate to talk to a recruiter, but it ends with a manager pulling the trigger.

No amount of advanced technology can convince a candidate to return your call or have a manager agree with your recommendation on a candidate.

When we first released TechScreen in 2015, our users all had the same reaction: “You need to talk to the person who manages the recruiters.” We were excited to have someone using our product, so we didn’t do micro-analysis of their reaction; we thought it was natural. However, we found that utilization varied from client to client and recruiter from recruiter. The utilization was based on each individual recruiter’s perception of how vital it was to “screen” an IT candidate technically.

Some recruiters, especially senior ones, would say, “I am very comfortable talking to software engineers, so I don’t need this tool.” Others would decide that they didn’t want to add another step to their process.  In either case, the recruiter was completely missing the boat.

Our tool is all about elevating the level of engagement with the hiring manager.

It makes no difference if you work for an IT staffing firm, an RPO or a TA department who hires a lot of IT candidates. TechScreen gives you tool that helps you more effectively engage with managers, who typically rely exclusively on their gut to determine who gets a phone screen or an invitation on site. TechScreen gives recruiters a tool that lets them change the conversation with hiring manager, who gets to pick the questions or add their own.

The Q&A site Quora posed a question a few years ago: “Why is it hard to connect with software engineers when you are a recruiter”, and there were tons of replies but one stood out:

“By understanding technology better, recruiters would add more value both to the companies they are recruiting for and the people they are recruiting.”

This observation was made by Jon Bischke, the CEO and Founder of Entelo, an industry leading sourcing tool. This is someone who intimately understands the audience and space. Bischke’s sentiment is exactly why TechScreen exists.

In my own consulting career, I have seen the impact of having a hiring manager trust my recommendations. I have seen this at The MathWorks, Pegasystems and Akamai Technologies. It wasn’t based the particular questions I would ask; the managers trusted the recommendation because of a track record of results.

The best example of this happened with an Engineering Director at Akamai. I had a Bay Area software engineer who needed to relocate to Boston for family reasons. His performance in my technical screen was exemplary and I shared the feedback with the Director. I told him that he should feel free to do his own screen before springing for airfare and a hotel, but he seemed fine and moved ahead with an interview without screening him personally.

Four years later, that software engineer is still there.

I began my career in the newspaper industry and they have a saying when a reporter puts the key detail deep into the story. It is called “Burying the lead.”

We buried the lead, too. TechScreen is all about enabling a higher level of engagement with managers, giving them more reason to trust your recommendations. A manager is far more likely to speak to a candidate who did well on an interview they helped shape. Imagine if every req you worked involved a session where you and the manager reviewed and picked precise questions that tapped the deliverables of their req. How much more invested would that manager be? How much more likely will they be to give a candidate with an average resume a shot because they crushed an interview they helped define?

Recruiters can become a true consultant and talent advisor by re-defining how they interact with the managers they support.

Recruiters have a thankless job. Their pipelines often get thinned by managers who capriciously reject candidates who didn’t graduate from the right school or have the right collection of buzzwords. We want to help them place more candidates because they create a track record of trust based on reliable recommendations to the manager.

No amount of AI will convince a manager to interview your candidate, but now recruiters are armed with a tool that lets them make trusted recommendations to managers who were already a part of the conversation.

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Mark Knowlton

Mark Knowlton is the CEO and Founder of TechScreen, a SaaS company that lets a recruiter conduct, score and document a detailed interview of an IT candidate without needing to know the underlying complexity.

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