The Death of the Recruiter? 

Are we about to witness the death of the recruiter?

Maybe you’re rolling your eyes at that question — perhaps because numerous observers have been predicting for years that the robots are coming for recruiters. And yet…recruiters still have jobs. 

“For now,” says Roopesh Panchasra, Uber’s global head of executive talent acquisition. 

Roopesh will be presenting at ERE Digital, Sept. 23-24, a session titled, “The Death of the Recruiter?: How to Harness Data to Keep Your Role Relevant.” It will be an especially important session given that, as Roopesh points out, “Recruiters increasingly face a future of irrelevance — unless, that is, they find new ways to have impact.”

ERE spoke with Roopesh about his upcoming presentation about the threats — and opportunities — that recruiters find themselves managing these days. 

ERE: What are the main threats to the profession that might cause some recruiters to vanish into irrelevance?

Roopesh: This might seem like an odd answer, but it’s complacency. Unlike some professions where you constantly have to retrain yourself, many recruiters become complacent in their jobs. And you can sort of understand why to a degree — once you understand the core functions of the role, once you understand the core tools to do it, you can more or less do the job without necessarily having to constantly update your skills. You can sort of get by.

But I don’t think recruiters will be able to just get by for much longer. What’s different now is that over the last five or so years, the emergence of technology in talent acquisition has created efficiencies around quality and speed. Technology has really impacted the hiring process end to end. And so a lot of tasks traditionally fulfilled by recruiters — like coming up with job descriptions, creating reqs, posting jobs, filtering applications, screening, the mechanisms around creating contracts and offers — these were all manual processes. But now there are many tools to do that instead of recruiters.

The robots are coming!

They’re already here. So you’ve got to think: Where will this leave recruiters? The answer lies in looking at other professionals that no longer exist, at least not in the way they used to. Just look at how technology has either redefined some jobs or simply made them less relevant: Film projectionists, bank cashiers, even opticians. My father was an optician. He used to manufacture contact lenses by hand. In his heyday, he’d manufacture maybe 40 per day. Almost overnight, though, big plants and machines were able to manufacture thousands per day. Also look at travel agents. They are almost obsolete. 

It’s as if recruiters are the next travel agents in that regard. 

It’s not far-fetched to say that. 

I know this is not the future any of us wants for the recruiting professional, which is why in your upcoming ERE Digital talk, you’ll be talking about how recruiters can harness data better to make themselves more valuable in their organizations. What do you mean by that specifically?

Having spent all my professional life in talent acquisition, I want to preserve and protect the role of the recruiter. And I truly believe that the way to do that is for recruiters to use data more strategically. One example of how to do this is for recruiters to look at the data from job-seekers’ and candidates’ interactions with chatbots. What kinds of questions are people asking over time? Also look at the data you get from assessments. Think about ways to analyze that data in ways that enable you to figure out transferable skills so you can better guide candidates to various roles, jobs they might not have initially applied to. 

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Yes, that sort of guidance is often part of the technology application, but when you look at the data associated with all this, you can potentially discover all sorts of things about ideal candidates, like which industries they tend to come from, which skills truly were transferable.

You can also look at the success they’ve had in their roles once they came to work for you, whether they got promotions — and the point then is to look back and see which jobs these same employees originally applied to. You’re aiming to look at the full talent lifecycle to spot trends from the time someone applies to their journey as an employee.

That’s the sort of information you can then take to hiring managers and offer recommendations backed by analytics. You can explain to hiring managers which sort of candidates to look for.

I love all this! I also bet a good number of them already do this. Which raises the question: Why aren’t more recruiters doing more with data and analytics? 

Many organizations aren’t embracing their technology fully. Or maybe they haven’t trained recruiters on how to interpret the data. Or sometimes people are just unwilling to retrain and evolve. After all, if you’ve been doing the same thing for so long, it becomes easy to just keep doing that. Whereas if you are trying to introduce new techniques and concepts, that can seem intimidating and overwhelming. This stuff doesn’t come naturally to many people.

People hate change. 

But change is necessary. Otherwise, we will become a dying breed because we’ll be playing less pivotal roles in our organizations. It’s important to embrace technology and understand the importance of analytics. So either we become ignorant and complacent and are considered less valuable, or we get up and embrace tech in order to make a difference with data. Recruiters who can do the latter are the ones who will become stronger. 


Want to hear more from Roopesh? Experience his presentation, “The Death of the Recruiter?: How to Harness Data to Keep Your Role Relevant,” live at ERE Digital, Sept. 23-24.

Roopesh will dive into how to ensure that tech does not replace you. You’ll learn how to gain talent intelligence that is most useful for elevating your hiring practices, as well as leverage data and analytics more strategically to interpret, analyze, and tell stories to impact your business. Plus, Roopesh will reveal ways to build your personal brand as a connector capable of engaging all HR streams with the right insights. Register at www.ererecruitingconference.com

Vadim Liberman is editor of ERE.net and TLNT (the devil wears TJ Maxx) — a workplace renegade advancing how we think, work, and live. He has previously worked as a strategy consultant to HR and recruiting tech companies at The Starr Conspiracy, as a talent management professional at Prudential, and as senior editor of The Conference Board Review, a magazine for business leaders. Vadim loves to talk about all things HR, talent acquisition, and Bravo TV shows. Bring it!

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