Technology Can Help Make Great Hires, But People Will Always Come First

By February 21, 2017News

Associate Contributor (1)

It’s no secret that I’m all about people—That’s why I’m the People Area Director at Pacesetter. As a family company, Pacesetter is very people-oriented and prioritizes the wellbeing and advancement of its dedicated associates, a value I strongly share.

At the same time, Pacesetter is embracing technology and innovation in the workplace, challenging outdated perceptions of the steel industry. By investing in first-class technology across every facet of this industry, Pacesetter provides continuous improvement and increased efficiency for associates and customers alike.

You may be wondering how this high-tech adoption applies to our hiring processes—especially in a world where recruitment is being digitized swiftly. In other words, how does the drive to innovate jive with our “people first” approach to business?

Pacesetter does stays abreast of innovation in hiring and the many digital trends that come and go. That said, people always come first, and we are very selective about the use of technology in recruiting.

Here’s how we approach technology in hiring, and why—though useful in certain ways—it will never be a core facet of our recruitment process.

Finding the best people

The ability of people to apply for jobs all-day, every day, with the click of a button means that human resources offices and placement agencies are flooded with resumes. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) purport to help pre-filter resumes so that the people on your hiring team will only spend time looking at viable candidates.

Pacesetter never has and never will use ATS to make hires. This may seem counter-intuitive: if ATS can help filter out unviable candidates, won’t it give us more time to focus on those that are qualified?

Here’s your answer: We will adopt technologies if they work. But time and again these tools have proven to make things worse, and are, I believe, one of the worst things to happen to the recruiting industry.

The algorithms used by ATS are out of date and the filtering systems are poor, prompting applicants tend to stuff their resume with powerful words and tailor their experience in an effort to get passed through the filters. This actually has the opposite of the system’s intended effect, reducing efficiency tremendously.

We’ve found that the best job seekers out there are the passive ones, not the active ones. Active job seekers should, of course, tailor their resumes to meet the position. But passive ones are currently working and are only slightly tuned in to what else is out there. They may not even have an up-to-date resume when you make first contact, because they are happy where they are. These are the candidates you want – they are valued by their current employer and they will only leave for a great opportunity. And we provide that great opportunity.

Candidate evaluation

At Pacesetter we take the interview process very seriously, treating it as a two-way interview and discovery process rather than a one-sided examination. One way we have found use for technology is in find out out more about a candidate’s preferences, shaping the way we approach the interview. In fact, we used a tool called BestWork Data just recently to help hire a new CFO.

The big distinction, here, is that we are not using technology to screen or evaluate candidates, or even to find them: Instead, we used it to identify gaps and find out how the candidate would get along with the rest of the team. We do not use technology to make decisions for us.

In fact, over the last 3 years over 70% of our new hires here at the corporate office are referrals. No, these are not aunts, cousins, best friends etc. These are former associates and contacts that left a lasting impression on our current associates enough that they reach out to them and introduce Pacesetter.

Through our interviewing process, the managers are not even aware that the candidates are referrals or who might have referred the person so there is no bias. Additionally, the referrals are interviewing against outside non-referral candidates and win the position honestly.

Technology can only go so far in talent evaluation. At best, it can give us more information to do the job ourselves. At worst, it can introduce more noise than talent.

No cutting corners

Yes, technology is here to stay. That’s why digital innovation is such a core value here at Pacesetter, and is helping our operations improve everyday. In hiring, it can help enhance our interview process by letting us know more about our candidates and their preferences. Even so, candidate recruitment is one area where technology is not efficient as it purports to be.

At the end of the day, if you want to be a successful company, people need to be making the decisions about people. If you want to hire the correct people for the correct positions there are really no shortcuts or time saver: it is a 100% ratio of return for time put into the output of individuals you get. Every shortcut you take directly reduces the quality of your workforce.

That’s why, if we do use technology in hiring, it’s not to save time or automate responsibility. It’s to help us people do what people do best: get to know our applicants and find the best fit possible.