SmartRecruiters Blog

Be Human: The Key to Competitive Sourcing, and the 3 Steps to Get There

Overcome the communication challenges posed by fast-evolving tech so your candidates have an A+ experience.

You’ve heard it before, but we’re in the midst of a talent shortage. According to the Hays 2018 Salary Guide, over half of employers are looking to increase their employment numbers in the next year. At the same time, three-quarters of those employers experience some types of skill shortage in their individual industries.

Yet, recruiters are inundated with resumes. The typical corporate job opening receives 250+ resumes, according to Glassdoor. With such a large haystack, recruiters begin to wonder… ‘is the needle even here?’

In this scenario, the metaphorical needles (qualified candidates) and, even ‘future needles’ (silver medal candidates… in this world straw can turn to metal, just go with it) are neglected, or perhaps not even noticed, in the first place.

Technology is often blamed for recruiting’s lack of ‘humanity’. There are countless articles telling us to ‘put the human back in human resources’, with the underlying sentiment being that the rise of automation in recruiting has lead to an impersonal candidate experience where applicants feel ignored.

It seems illogical: Automation is supposed to give recruiters more time to build personal relationships with candidates, so why aren’t those connections happening? Let’s look at it from the talent acquisition (TA) side.

For practitioners, the rise of tech means:

  • Infinite candidate pool: The accessibility of the internet has given rise to remote work options as well as widespread use of social media. Talent pools and social networks are no longer limited by geography — an applicant can send a resume from anywhere in the world, and recruiters don’t have to rely on in-person meetings to build reach. This means a higher volume of inbound traffic to sort through, more pressure on recruiters to connect with candidates, and greater expectations for outbound touches.
  • Constant change: Many legacy applicant tracking systems (ATS) do just that: track applicants. Many haven’t evolved to help recruiters navigate sourcing channels like job boards and social media. Even a stellar ATS is designed for ‘one to one communication’. Advanced sourcing requires tools that enable ‘one to many communication’, most often found in candidate relationship management systems (CRM).CRM solutions are designed to enhance a recruiter’s sourcing efforts, allowing them to adopt a marketing approach to how they interact with candidates. Through email campaigns, branded landing pages, and other types of nurturing sequences to deliver the right message, to the right candidate, at the right time. Recruiters may find it hard to keep up with the level of communication candidates expect when they are working with yesterday’s tech.

While recognizing the challenges that fast-evolving technology poses to recruiters, there are still approaches which make it easier to be ‘human’… it’s harder than it looks. The overarching goal is to communicate with candidates more and better, and so we’ve identified the top three obstacles and how to overcome them.



Given the vast number of sourcing channels available today, it can be hard to track candidate activity on each. You have social media, cold emails, job listing sites…the list goes on. An integrated CRM solution or third-party ATS plugin that maintains candidate relationships is the ultimate answer, but workflow organizers (like Trello or Asana) can provide visual structure (if not automation) to the processes and ensure no applicant is overlooked.


Responsiveness (even with bad news)

OfficeVibe reports that 66 percent of candidates want to hear more from employers when they’re applying for jobs. Taking the few moments to respond to candidate questions on a regular and prompt basis sounds insignificant, but it makes a huge impact.

Features like “delayed rejections” are a lifesaver for many TA practitioners who want automatic rejection notifications without resulting in a negative candidate experience.

Nobody likes to waste time applying for a company that’s not right for them. We’ve all experienced the disappointment of being strung along by an application process, only to discover it wasn’t the right fit from the start. So much of this disappointment could be avoided if recruiters respond to questions and concerns earlier in the hiring process.

Out of hundreds of applicants, only five, on average, actually receive an interview. Make sure those who aren’t selected are notified (even if you can’t take the time to give individualized feedback to each). This gesture not only boosts candidate experience, but also saves you time responding to all the individual ‘follow-up emails’ from confused applicants.


Transparency and realness

Finally, we need to be more transparent in the recruiting world. We often keep things to ourselves because we need a candidate as a back-up, or we aren’t sure which direction the company is trying to go. While this might seem like the right protocol, it paints a bad picture for applicants.

We’ve all been in a position where a candidate is stuck waiting at the offer stage while the hiring manager weighs their decision. It’s easy to ignore emails and calls for weeks until you feel you have a “solid” answer to give, but you didn’t realize you had one in front of you the whole time: the truth.

It’s perfectly acceptable to check in with a candidate at this stage. Let them know the hiring manager is still interviewing candidates, or that the company has selected another candidate. Be honest and genuine. This candidate is more likely to walk away with a positive impression of your company, and this makes them more likely to re-apply for other openings in the future.


As a recruiter, your job is to help others. You match candidates with the right positions, with the intent to help both companies and individuals. That’s amazing, and something you should keep at the heart of your work every day.

The key to adding humanity back to the sourcing process is as simple as being responsive. Talk to your candidates. Even if they’re not the right fit for a certain position, that doesn’t mean you can’t expand your network and build a professional relationship. You never know if they might be the perfect candidate tomorrow. Help others and, in turn, help yourself.

Wendy Dessler