The (near) Future of IT Recruiting

My attention was caught yesterday by an article about the IT recruitment industry, which I found quite interesting. Well written, although in the same gloomy tone that goes on to say IT recruiters will be replaced very soon by LinkedIn and Artificial Intelligence. You can read it here, although it’s pretty long.

I don’t agree with most of those predictions. The post itself has too many assumptions and plenty of false premises. If you didn’t read it, here are some of them:

  • most startups don’t work with external recruiters
  • as a Java developer, you can’t get a job today if you don’t know Hadoop or even Spark
  • you can accurately asses whether a person is good for a position only by looking at their LinkedIn profile
  • the next recession will knock out most (if not all) IT recruiters

One issue is that the article conveniently jumps between contract recruitment and permanent recruitment, which have very different dynamics. The author assumes HR and hiring managers comfortably rely on some sort of magical algorithm to sort LinkedIn profiles and CV’s. Not only such a system will never be flawless, but most developers (and others on LinkedIn) have limited information on their profiles. Inevitably, this means that no matter how accurate the algorithm, results cannot be 100% reliable.

Beyond that particular article, many others voice similar opinions around the fact that IT recruitment as an industry is unsustainable. I agree with this point to a certain extent — some recruiters will definitely not make it. There will surely be changes, however I doubt we will see an end to the industry soon, as most people seem to think. As long as there will be companies hiring developers, external IT recruiters will have a pretty big part to play in the process. That’s due to a number of reasons, including: managers decide to hire too late and they are desperate, HR generalists are not very good at recruiting, hiring managers are pretty bad at selling the opportunity to the right candidates, etc.

I have over 5 years experience in the IT recruitment field, having helped many companies hire great developers. During this time, I noticed one thing: businesses that take hiring seriously (and have most success) employ a multi-structured strategy. This includes a mix of employee referrals, social media and LinkedIn posts, automated talent matching (platforms such as Workshape), collaboration with 1–2 agency recruiters and regular meetups/conferences attendance. Using just one of these channels, the same as limiting the search to only one city for example, cannot result in hiring the best people. It just results in hiring the best people available through that channel or in that location.

I might be biased, but I’m confident to say that IT recruitment will never be fully automated and external recruiters will not be completely replaced. Sure, there are some really cool software/algorithm based tools available, and they can be very useful when used properly. However, a company that relies exclusively on them is not going to reach all the best people out there.

For one reason or another, most companies are not very good at hiring (attracting, assessing, convincing) the right talent. Artificial Intelligence will not be the silver bullet to change that. In contrast to AI, a good external recruiter will be able to get the right people in for a talk, but also smooth out the bumps in the process (both for the candidate and the hiring company).

In addition to the usual metrics, market knowledge, technical understanding or even keyword matching, external recruiters are also able to add something else. That important, sometimes imperfect, human touch.

Thanks for reading, I hope you find it useful. If you’re interested in topics such as technical recruitment, hiring software developers and/or working with 3rd party recruiters, we should connect on Twitter.

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