by Jodi Kasten, General Manager and Vice president of Sales for Canada, Mexico, and Brazil

As general manager and VP of sales, I pay close attention to the impact of technology on hiring. There have never been so many software tools and systems that can help increase the efficiency of the process, however, as with every innovation, companies must be mindful of unintended consequences. All of the efficiencies that AI tools can offer will come to naught if companies fail to maintain what I would describe as the “human touch.” 

Any business that hopes to attract top talent, create a positive work environment, and improve its reputation as a welcoming place must prioritize putting people first. I want to share why I am convinced that a personal and authentic approach to hiring is so important, and offer some tips on how your organization can ensure that you are attracting and hiring the best people for your open positions.

What people can do that technology can’t 

Software applications can streamline the recruitment process in many important ways, but I don’t believe they will ever replace actual interviews, whether they are in person face to face or virtual. Speaking directly to applicants allows employers to go beyond the information presented on a resume and make a deeper evaluation. A diverse hiring panel working from a clear set of predetermined, relevant questions can explore a person’s motivations, interests, soft skills, and problem-solving skills, and yield other valuable insights that cannot be captured through software alone.  

Building a personal connection with a candidate is also how you convince them that your organization is a good fit for them. Job seekers appreciate transparency and authenticity. Open and honest communication combined with genuine interactions helps build trust and rapport. Feeling connected to the company’s values, vision and work environment are all essential considerations for candidates when deciding whether to accept a job offer. The human touch helps candidates evaluate these intangible aspects and make more informed decisions. 

What your hiring process says about your mission and your brand

Candidates base their perception of a company on their experiences during the recruitment process (and they will often share those views with friends and peers). The candidate experience begins from the moment a job seeker reads the job posting. They will even form assumptions based on the language in the company description. Words like “supportive”, “flexible”, “welcoming”, and “rewarding” are all human qualities that candidates are likely to favour over concepts like “fast-paced” or “competitive.” However,  cliches like “we’re one big family” can be just as off-putting as cold, impersonal descriptors.

As the candidate moves through the process, they will continue to form their view of the organization, as well as its employees, values and processes. In a tight labour market, you should assume that the top candidates are applying for several positions at the same time. You should also assume that the nature and quality of these interactions can direct their choice and can play a role in whether you snag your ideal candidate or lose them to a competitor. 

Simple guidelines can help maintain the human element during each stage of the hiring process: 

  • Create space in the interview for attentive listening and understanding of each others’ perspectives.
  • Do as much as you can to tailor communication and outreach to each individual candidate.
  • Offer prompt feedback at each stage of the hiring process.
  • Let candidates know that they are welcome to ask questions and seek clarification.
  • Invite frank feedback from candidates to help them feel valued and engaged.
  • Respect the candidate: Acknowledge and appreciate the time and effort they have invested in applying. 

How thoughtful policies demonstrate that you prioritize people

It’s difficult to prioritize the human touch in your company’s hiring process if it’s not also an important element of your mission and culture. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted traditional work routines and prompted many individuals to reprioritize. Evolving attitudes toward work, especially a renewed eagerness for improved work-life balance, have highlighted the need for organizations to focus on the wellbeing and satisfaction of their employees. 

Research shows that employee health is largely determined by social relationships in the workplace. Employees who enjoy strong friendships at work are 47% more likely to say they plan to be with the company a year from now, and four times more likely to state that they are engaged at work. Eight out of ten people say they would turn down a significant salary increase if it meant working with people or in an environment they didn’t like.

Broadcasting your commitment to encouraging social connections in the workplace can help to attract and retain the best talent. So can introducing greater flexibility, which is a powerful way for employers to attract top talent without incurring significant costs. Post-pandemic, more than half of workers state they would quit their jobs if they were not offered flexibility around when and where they work. The option of flexible working time enables employees to feel more in control of their lives and can be especially important to women, who in many cases continue to bear the majority burden for child-rearing and managing household responsibilities. Flexible working can reduce absence rates and boost job satisfaction, which can have a positive impact on how your company shows up on sites like Glassdoor.

Offering flexibility to accommodate child care needs, allowing work-from-home options, and supporting women’s career growth can help combat gender discrimination and provide equal opportunities for advancement. Creating an environment that supports women’s equal participation in the workforce is essential for fostering diversity and inclusion.

Technology has revolutionized the contemporary workplace. Some things, however, will never change. Treating individuals with kindness and respect, valuing people’s time and effort, building trust and authenticity, and facilitating social connections cannot be outsourced to software. The most successful companies will be those that embrace the future, while retaining these universal human qualities.