AI is here. Why do Recruiters Still Exist?

[Guest Blog by Executive Recruiter, Rick Vogel, President of The Vogel Group in Edmonton]

Rick is also a nominee for Canada's Top 100 Recruiter Awards 2018.


At the risk of admitting (or reinforcing) the fact that I am getting old, I recently had an interesting discussion with an Edmonton CEO that caused me to do some reminiscing.

My adult career (as opposed to my Earl’s Tin Palace bartender era) began in 1986 as a stock broker (now called a Financial Advisor) with McLeod, Young and Weir (now called ScotiaMcLeod). There was no email. Nobody had cell phones. Family Ties, Hill Street Blues and The A-Team ruled TV (yes, all 17 channels). The Police, Culture Club and Pet Shop Boys were topping the charts. Gas at the pump was $0.50 per litre. Apple Computer introduced the $3,000 Macintosh Plus, featuring an 8 MHz 68000 processor, 1 MB RAM, a new keyboard with cursor keys, a numeric keypad and an 800kB 3.5-inch floppy drive. 

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As I worked to build a client base, my tools were a telephone (land line only), a business card index file, a rotating recipe card filing system and a real life Rolodex. In order to be successful, I had to interact with people all day, every day, either over the phone or face-to face. The open bullpen of our office buzzed because everyone was talking on the phone.

This got me thinking: how did the search industry work back in the “old days”? I am sure there were rows and rows of file cabinets. My brain hurts when I consider trying to find a specific resume by position, industry, education or designation. In addition, each search professional would have their own Rolodex (probably several) with clients, candidates, references, industry sources, personal contacts and others.

In short, the rule of the day was: “he/she with the biggest Rolodex wins”. If your Rolodex was small and relatively local, you would be considered a “boutique” search firm. Your contacts were local and your clients were local too. The only way to execute a national search was to have colleagues in cities across the country who had their own local Rolodexes and who would be willing to share their contacts. This was known as a “national” search firm. 

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So here we are in 2018.  We have the World Wide Web. We have email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat to name a few. We don’t have to meet in person to deliver proposals, research or reports – we simply “attach and send.” We can post a job on a website and receive hundreds of resumes within minutes. We can find people anywhere in the country easier than ever before. But does the ability to generate a high volume of resumes in a relatively short time period really improve the quality of the candidate pool we deliver to our clients?

We don’t think so. Finding people is not the major challenge anymorefinding the right people is. How you take your client story to the market and to whom you are telling the story is what differentiates search firms today. We don’t believe this is best accomplished solely with electronic communication.

But the “post and respond” method of recruiting does not assess leadership skills, strategic abilities, mentorship track record, interaction style or personality. There is absolutely no way to ascertain how a candidate will “fit” your organization from a posting response.

In my days at McLeod, Young and Weir we were “forced” to interact with people by “talking”, sometimes over the phone and sometimes in person. But it was human interaction. If we limit our interaction with candidates, or potential candidates, to electronic mediums, how can we discern personality, sense of humour, style of communication or assess physical queues?

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At The Vogel Group, we will continue to test and use technology to improve the efficiency and quality of our search results. Whatever we can do to be better for our clients – we will do. But until Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes over the world, we will rely on face-to-face human interaction (possibly over Skype and Facetime if needed), shaking hands, sharing a story (and even a laugh) with the people who will make your organization better.  

So while technology is advancing at a frantic pace, maybe “old school people skills” still have a place in recruiting. In fact, we think they are still critical even in today’s technological world. The two can work together. 

After all, you can still watch Cheers and Magnum PI today but you are streaming them through Netflix on your phone while enjoying an iced, half caff, ristretto, venti, sugar free, cinnamon, dolce soy skinny latte. Now, if I could just find a tape player to listen to my Supertramp cassettes…


About the Author

 Rick Vogel, Top Recruiter Nominee

Rick Vogel is the President of The Vogel Group, specializing in thenational recruitment of leaders with offices in Edmonton, Alberta. He is also a nominee for Canada's Top 100 Recruiters 2018. To see Rick's client recommendations, login at www.toprecruiter.co

THE VOGEL GROUP # 300 – 10355 Jasper Ave, Edmonton, AB T5J 1Y6

PHONE: 780.665.4965

EMAIL: rick@thevogelgroup.ca

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 The Vogel Group, Executive Recruiters, Top Recruiter, Edmonton, Alberta

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