Recruitment 411: What’s Missing in Today’s World of Online Recruitment?

Today’s guest blogger is Steve Mindel, IRS recruiter for Illinois and Wisconsin.

Over the past several months, I have been taking advantage of virtual recruitment resources. These tools have proven to provide a great way to communicate to a wider audience. After taking several months to focus on this new strategy, I realized something was missing.

I recently had the opportunity to attend a face-to-face career panel, and it dawned in on me! I miss the connection, the emotion of talking to someone, reading the looks on their faces and responding to them using similar body language. It never crossed my mind that this is something I valued as part of the recruitment process. While you can be positive in a virtual environment and have some emotional connection, you cannot see the excitement, the gratitude, and the way someone responds to what you’re saying; even looking at someone’s eyes. I realized, this is what I miss most.

As I’m sure many recruiters are aware, some virtual events tend to cost just as much – if not more – than a traditional face-to-face event. Recruiting managers use buzz phrases like: ‘bang for the buck’ and ‘cost savings,’ and talk about how there is a ‘larger base of applicants.’ These phrases sound good in presentations and on the phone, but the reality is that the emotional connection is low. This low connection can sometimes translate into disinterest, which is a disadvantage of the virtual world.

When I attend face-to-face events, I like the overall feeling I get from job seekers. In the candidate’s eyes, I can see the interest they have. I can also tell when they feel like they are looking for something else. When a candidate is passionate, they can read my demeanor, which is hopefully interpreted the same way to them. Is there a way to bring this same kind of feeling to virtual recruitment without using the cliché emoticons that we use out of habit?

While the increased use of webcams and Google hangouts has started to become more popular, I’m sure this will increase some of the emotional connection that candidates have with recruiters and human resources staff. While there are often free events and low-cost events that are a great benefit in the virtual recruitment world; at the end of the day, I’d put my money in a face-to-face event simply because of that emotional connection.

How do you overcome the lack of face-to-face interaction on social media sites?

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Andrew Krzmarzick

Google+ Hangout. Best free tool by far – especially for multiple parties. Thanks for bringing up this topic, Steve (and thanks for allowing him to guest post, Julie!).

Brian Rabin

AT NIH, we use a blend of face to face recruiting with the virtual environment. With today’s budgetary limitations, it just isn’t possible to have as many face to face interactions as we would like. I agree that Google+ Hangout is a great tool. We will be using Google+ Hangout at a conference next week where candidates will interview with NIH managers back in Bethesda, MD.

Terrance Glover

I agree with you entirely.

I recently participated in a veterans career fair and the experience of interacting with veterans seeking IRS jobs, compelled me to work through lunch without a break (five hours). More than 300 veteran candidates visited our booth that day. The candidates came in groves. Our experience (the senior manager and I) provided veterans recruiting recommendations, consultation and attentive listening skills to understand their needs and interests. In my opinion, online recruitment can not substitute smiles, eye-contact, verbal communication, non-verbal gestures or emotions transferred like in-person career fair events.

While I agree and understand the need to be cost efficient as well as using alternatate low cost recruiting strategies, there is nothing like meeting directly with candidates for recruiting purposes. I also realize the benefit of potentially reaching higher volumes of candidates through online recruitment. However I ask the question, “are we really connecting enough with online candidates to make a sound impact that will compel their desire to seek IRS career opportunities?

I returned to the office the following day feeling accomplished and reflected on memorable conversations shared with veterans candidates. I opened my e-mail, observed and read nearly 50 emails from veterans who I had met the day prior. Many of the e-mails were accommodating and thankful. Wow!

So I ask, the question, does online recruitment, have the same impact and connection as in-person career fair events? Hummm? The final verdict is still out there.

Paula B Golladay

Well said, I agree with you fully. Now take this to the next level working with individuals with disabilities. Social media does not allow for high level conversations in American Sign Language (ASL), I cannot see the candidate’s gestures and placement of signs via most social media channels; nor can the candidate see my gestures and other linguistic markers, linguistic markers are key to conversing in ASL. Entire conversations can be misunderstood on both parties parts often leaving the candidate walking away feeling lost in the fray once again. There are many factors to consider when addressing the question of face to face or social media recruitment? In my humble opinion face to face recruitment should be the first choice and social media the second or supplemental choice in the recruitment field.