Let’s Get Back to “Old School” HR in 2017

Mark Fogel HR Technology, Mark Fogel, Old School

It’s time for HR folks to step back from their reliance on Technology and go “Old School.”

Recently, Bill Belichick, the head coach of the NFL New England Patriots, announced he was ditching the use of a Microsoft Tablet on the sidelines and going back to his old system of still pictures  to make in-game decisions. He was going back to basics, some might say going “Old School.” So what does this have to do with HR and more specifically recruiting?

I would argue it is a great learning moment of how a successful leader and coach uses common sense and ditches technology that just is not getting it done. Bill chose to go back to a tried and true protocol of viewing still pictures and talking to his staff instead of relying on a less dependable but newer technology.

New technology is not always better than old technology or tech at all.

For example, let’s take the candidate experience today—or should I say the candidate debacle—and examine it for a moment. I have yet to meet a candidate that is satisfied with the cold, rude, and uncaring feeling created when sending a resume to the black hole of ATS systems used by most organizations. It’s like putting your socks in the drier and not getting one back. Where it goes you will never really know. I am talking about your resume…not your socks. To add insult to injury, even folks who do score a phone screen or face to face are often left empty-handed afterwards: little to no feedback, and if they’re lucky a “Dear John” rejection letter.

When I was a recruiting executive, several years ago at Limited Brands, we had no ATS systems except for maybe an Excel spreadsheet where we quickly typed a few notes. We had to personally read resumes and do our own filtering.   Candidates got a phone call to come in to the office, not an email invitation to do a 15 minute Skype call. Every candidate that was interviewed received a call from me at the end of the recruiting process and a thank you for their time. A few even boomeranged back to us in future searches, landing jobs as a result. It was definitely “Old School” when compared to typical processes today. To be fair it took more time and was not necessarily the most efficient way to do things. However, overall we had pretty good results and hired great folks.

Candidates appreciated our closing the loop, many stayed loyal Limited brand customers. A few even spread the word to family and friends that even though they didn’t land the job it was still a good interviewing experience. When they finished the process they had dignity, respect and closure. Our talent team was looked at as brand ambassadors. Our touch points were as important in an interview process as the experience they might have in a store. We even branded our offices with identical in-store promotional posters to remind candidates and ourselves of the brand. We know one bad shopping experience gets shared at least ten times. Well one might argue that one bad recruiting experience could yield many times more the mention on social media sites like Glassdoor and Twitter.

All the focus the past few years seems to be on the business side of the recruitment process. Very little if any has been done by software companies to double down and focus on the candidate too. Automated email responses just don’t cut it anymore. Maybe the war for the best HR tech will be about the candidate experience instead of just business needs.

HR can start looking at their technology processes today and evaluating whether it is really getting the job done. They could also starting putting  more personal interaction into the recruitment process. Talking to candidates after the process is over and giving them feedback is not a difficult task. Treating your technology as a sunk cost is not always the most prudent way to handle work. If it doesn’t work, it shouldn’t matter how much you spent on it. Pick and choose what to scrap, even if it’s only temporary ’til a better solution can be found.

Expand your old school to other areas of HR. Make your onboarding in person, not a video or Powerpoint. Hold town hall meetings to get feedback instead of just relying on electronic engagement surveys. Get out and talk to your employees in their work spaces. Be honest about your processes and be open to adapting and changing them.

Don’t be afraid to go “Old School.” Your reputation is hanging in the balance.