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Technology and recruitment: Is the human touch extinct?

Tags: Recruitment Process

In this brave new world of technology and recruitment, where do recruiters fit? Almost every industry is besieged by predictions of impending doom. ‘Advertising is dead’. ‘Marketing is dead’. ‘Recruitment is dead’. 

But do AI, chatbots, video and other recruitment technology trends really spell the death of the human touch? Are recruiters really going extinct?

No. Most definitely not.  

And here are three big reasons why. 

1 – Technology can’t assess all-important soft skills

Cloud computing. Edge computing. Augmented analytics. Blockchain. AI. UX design. Natural Language Processing. These technical skills are, of course, in high demand. Every industry faces huge disruption from technology – and recruitment must find the talent with the right skills to drive innovation.  

But here’s the thing. 

Candidates with hard skills in today’s most in-demand areas are sought after from every angle. But so are candidates with soft skills. Like LinkedIn’s top five for 2019: creativity; persuasion; collaboration; adaptability and time management. 

LinkedIn’s 2019 Talent Trends report found these soft skills are more in-demand than the buzzword hard skills. 91% of talent leaders agree soft skills are vital to the future of recruiting and HR. 80% admit they struggle to find the right soft skills on the market.

Here’s why soft skills matter – for businesses and recruiters.  

  • Software Developer Sally is a coding ace who’s mastered several development languages. But when it comes to the language of life, she’s lost. She’s awkward. She struggles to gel with her team. She’s not a great listener and rubs everyone up the wrong way. Sally might be a whizkid developer but overall? Without better soft skills, she has a negative impact on morale, productivity and performance. 
  • HR Hannah is looking for software developers. She uses AI sourcing technology to identify potential candidates – and Software Developer Sallys look great on paper. On the other hand, Software Developer Sam doesn’t quite have the hard skills he needs. But he’s a charismatic, popular and hard-working team leader who’d be easy to train. But if HR Hannah over-relies on technology instead of using her own soft skills, Sam falls through the cracks and Sally walks into the business.

The fact is, soft skills are crucial in driving the innovation agenda. And recruiters need soft skills to assess soft skills. 

2 – Technology can’t manage people how people manage people

The business world is a more challenging place than ever. Organisations face near-constant disruption. Innovation isn’t an option; it’s an existential necessity. 

But the pace of change means there’s a dire shortage of suitable talent, in almost every industry. (65% of companies identify a moderate to great talent shortage across the UK. 60% of hiring managers say they’re even more worried long-term, because the talent pool isn’t sustainable). 

  • Need to accelerate order fulfilment in your warehouse, to stay competitive and meet customer demand? New robotics technology would be ideal. But where’s your warehouse manager with expertise implementing robotics technology?
  •  Need to cut drug wastage through your pharma supply chain, to protect customers (and your brand) from counterfeiting? Blockchain could ensure hyper-secure recordkeeping across silos. But where’s your healthcare technology blockchain specialist?

Innovation fuels skills shortages – and skills shortages mean recruiters play a bigger role than ever. 

Because recruitment isn’t just about finding candidates. Recruitment is also about turning candidates into new hires. That’s magic that demands persuasion, negotiation and careful people management. Especially in a candidate-driven market plagued by skills shortages. 

Every candidate might be interviewing in ten places. Might have five competing offers. And for most in-demand roles, salaries increase far faster than pay brackets. Some roles see a 50% year-on-year salary increase. An increase most businesses baulk at and few can afford. 

Technology can’t persuade candidates that money isn’t everything. Technology can’t uncover candidates’ driving desire and craft a sales pitch to appeal. Technology can’t detect when a candidate’s lying about another interview. 

Technology can’t. Recruiters can. That’s the human touch. 

3 – Technology and recruitment have a symbiotic relationship

There are some elements of recruitment that technology can really help with.

Things like… sourcing CVs. Posting job adverts. Scheduling interviews. Powering video interviews. Tracking candidates. Communicating consistently. Collating analytics. 

But those things by themselves aren’t ‘recruitment’. Even the most tech-friendly recruitment task can’t happen without human input. 


  • Sourcing CVs. AI can unearth candidates but the technology is only as good as the brief. AI can even learn from your existing systems and extrapolate – but someone needs to check the data it’s extrapolating from, or deep-rooted organisational bias can be perpetuated. And what happens when skills are so short that there simply aren’t CVs to source? Recruiters, that’s what. Building long-term relationships to form a passive talent pipeline.
  • Posting job adverts. Technology can parse job descriptions straight from your HRMS, HRIS or HCM and automatically post into a job advert. But that advert will be utterly useless without recruiters/HR defining the talent strategy that underpin the hiring need. And checking job descriptions match job realities. And adding flair and insight about your culture that turn robotic job descriptions into human job adverts that compel applications.
  • Scheduling interviews. Technology can save time scheduling but 27% of talent leaders believe scheduling interviews need the human touch. A short call to schedule and remind candidates of important details can form a relationship with candidates, and dissolve anxiety much more effectively, than technology – and those things are crucial to the candidate experience. 
  • Powering video interviews. Technology has a huge impact for early-stage screening. Video interviews give a deeper perspective on candidates, faster, with a fraction of the input from recruiters. BUT recruiters’ judgement is crucial, because that’s where you understand cultural fit and personality nuance. Video interviewing is the perfect example of technology and recruitment working together. (Read more about Tribepad’s video interviewing software). 
  • Tracking candidates. The right ATS can save hundreds of hours in admin time (literally hundreds – here are some case studies). But tracking candidates isn’t inherently valuable. It’s only valuable because it translates into a smoother, better candidate experience and frees recruiters to spend more time adding value elsewhere. Like… spending longer talking to candidates, to get a better understanding of cultural fit. Or giving personalised interview feedback, to improve the candidate experience. (Read more: How an ATS can improve your CX). 
  • Communicating consistently. Technology has a radical impact on candidate communications, allowing you to automate and personalise comms at scale. But really, the technology is only a mechanism for delivery. What you deliver – that is, the content of your messages – is equally important. And that’s where recruiters come in. 
  • Collating analytics. Technology means we have heaps more data at our fingertips. Insight that can fuel positive decision-making, to make recruitment more effective and efficient. But the data doesn’t make those decisions. The data’s just the data. Recruiters have to interpret, to turn insights into intelligence.  

And those are just the recruitment tasks where technology has the biggest impact. 

That’s not even looking at the areas where technology doesn’t stand a chance, like face-to-face interviewing, assessing for culture fit, headhunting from competitors, building talent pools, gathering candidate feedback, delivering constructive criticism, conveying culture and employer brand. 

The fact is, recruitment technology is a fantastic thing. But technology and recruitment have a symbiotic relationship and always will. 

Technology and recruitment are perfect partners

Technology shapes every industry, every company and every profession – that’s unavoidable. In recruitment, technology streamlines, accelerates and automates much of the recruitment process – to deliver a better experience for recruiters, hiring managers and candidates. 

That’s fantastic. But the ship won’t steer itself. 

Especially in recruitment – you can’t eliminate people from the people industry. Sensitivity, sound judgement, reasoning, empathy, intuitiveness, persuasion and negotiation skills – these are all crucial human skills in the recruitment equation. 

Recruiters should make astute use of technology, but they’ll never make themselves redundant. Used wisely, technology empowers recruiters to make themselves more valuable than ever. 

Tribepad is passionate about combining the power of people with the power of technology, through our smart recruitment technology platform. Join hundreds of customers like Tesco, BBC, Sodexo, Subway, KFC and Gumtree – book your demo now. 

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