How to Humanize Recruitment in an Automated Industry

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Automation in recruitment is here to stay. Used intelligently, AI saves time and money, makes high-volume hiring a breeze, and can automate sourcing, resumé assessments, skills assessments, candidate communication, background checking, and interview scheduling. Automation can be a powerful weapon in the fight against unconscious bias and reduces the cost of human error, while the efficiencies flowing from system integrations are enormous.

But poorly-configured recruitment automation can be dispiriting for candidates. If you’ve ever encountered an automated message like the one above, you will be familiar with the sinking feeling that your application will probably never be seen by human eyes. Despite pouring a lot of your personality into the job application, the system seems designed to treat you like a number rather than a person.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Even in a high-volume hiring situation where there is no real human contact until the job interview stage, there are several strategies to humanize recruitment automation and improve the candidate experience while retaining the efficiencies that flow from automation.

Keep candidates informed

Nothing detracts from the candidate experience quite so much as poor communication. 63% of candidates believe most employers do not communicate adequately, while 53% report that they did not receive a response from employers until three months after applying (Talent Board, 2020).

Poor communication leaves candidates in the dark about next steps, increases the volume of calls to your contact center (if you have one), and will ultimately lead to higher levels of candidate attrition.

Here are some tips for getting automated candidate communication right:

  • It’s better to over-communicate than to under-communicate. Always send an automated acknowledgment to assure candidates that their application has been received.
  • Get the basics right. For example, make sure you capture the candidates’ preferred name at the application stage so your system doesn’t address them incorrectly.
  • Personalize as much as possible using the data captured in the job application process.
  • Dial up the enthusiasm in the language and tone you use. The aim is to make the candidate feel valued and nurtured through the process. Make sure your communication style is aligned with your organization’s overall brand.  
  • Look at your recruitment process and determine the trigger points for automated messaging. Be sure to set expectations in terms of timelines.
  • Let candidates know if there’s a delay.
  • As email usage continues to trend downwards, consider using a mobile-led, text-first communication strategy.

Set up candidates for success

Keep candidates informed at every stage of the process by sending automated “next steps” communications that have plenty of information about what the next stage involves. Alongside the usual practical information (what is the next step, when is it, will it be online or in-person, how long it will take, and so on), equip candidates with tips for success. 

For example, an invitation to a job interview could include tips such as how to prepare, the sorts of questions that might be asked, what to wear, and who will be there. If the interview is online, candidates could benefit from tips such as getting the background and lighting right, checking their hardware to ensure a smooth interview, and how to present well in a remote setting.

Keep candidates engaged by throwing in some information about the organization – perhaps you could share a glimpse into the team culture, highlight some of the best office features, or write about the nearest cafés and lunch spots.

Consider mixing up your messaging with short, engaging videos rather than bombarding candidates with written communications.

Let unsuccessful candidates down with empathy

Informing a candidate that they were unsuccessful takes care and empathy, which is why so many organizations get it wrong when they attempt to automate this part of the process.

Write a thoughtful pre-loaded message that thanks the candidate and acknowledges the effort they put into their application. While you won’t be able to provide personalized feedback in high-volume recruiting, you might want to share some generic tips for next time such as resumé or interview advice.

Point the unsuccessful candidate to other relevant opportunities in your organization and encourage them to apply. Remember, the ultimate sign of an excellent candidate experience is when even unsuccessful candidates come away with a positive impression of your employer brand.

Finally, don’t send automated rejections to runners-up. Retain the human touch with a personalized email or (better yet) a phone call. This will enable you to pipeline the second and third-best candidates for future potential jobs – and keep them warm in case your chosen candidate doesn’t work out.

Automation is the future of recruitment, but it’s up to us humans to ensure that robotic processes don’t take on robotic characteristics: impersonal, unfeeling, unempathetic. Craft your communication strategy with care, give it plenty of heart, and watch your candidate experience soar.