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Why human connection is still a vital part of recruitment

If you’re new to job hunting, you’d be forgiven for thinking recruitment is one of the industries that has been completely upended by automation. You upload your resume and cover letter electronically, hit send and wait for a computer generated email or text message to say it’s been received.

You might be asked to sit a virtual aptitude test or address selection criteria via an online form. You might even receive a rejection email where your name has clearly been populated by software. It can feel like the ‘human’ element of human resources has disappeared.

According to Gavin Walker from DeakinTALENT, there is no cause for fear. ‘Human connection is still vitally important in the recruitment process,’ Walker confirms. ‘While a lot of the recruitment process is becoming more automated it’s more of an initial screening process to cull the numbers.’

Automation has made it easier for companies to ascertain quickly when someone isn’t right for the job. Many recruitment systems allow employers to use search terms to review resumes when looking for applicants with particular qualifications and experience, be it a software program or a degree. With technology on their side, recruiters can afford to be quite specific.

The human element

Once you get to the point where you’re being considered for a role you have the opportunity to showcase your skills at an interpersonal level. This may still be done in a virtual capacity but recruiters will be experienced at assessing applicants through these means.

‘The human connection comes in with things like video interviews, the kind of language you use in your resume and your ability to show how you have worked with or influenced people in a university, extracurricular or work environment,’ Walker explains. ‘Your soft skills and the language you use are both vital.’

At this point you’ll be called on to demonstrate what you can bring to the role. ‘You have to remember is nobody is hiring somebody for the fun of it they are hiring somebody because they need a job to be done,’ says Walker. ‘Ultimately that will be making a company money, saving a company money, helping them through a project or helping them overcome an issue. They need a return on their investment.’

Walker says this is where potential for relationships comes into play: ‘Nine times out of 10 the hiring manager will hire someone that they connect with on some level.

‘You may have all the technical skills in the world but if the hiring manager doesn’t feel that you are going to work well with them or the team then ultimately that’s where it can all fall down.’ According to Walker, your ability to interact effectively, read the room and demonstrate emotional quotient will be essential.

Cut to the chase

One way to bypass the online nature of recruitment is to build your network of contacts. Walker understands that networking events aren’t popular: ‘Networking is something that I would imagine that ninety percent of the world hate.’ This said, he believes it’s essential to see networking skills as something you can develop over time. ‘Networking is a learned skill, particularly for introverts. It can be one of those things that you have to work at. You have to come up with an opening statement and understand what you are going to give to a company.’

'Nine times out of 10 the hiring manager will hire someone that they connect with on some level.'

Gavin Walker,
Graduate Employment Division, Deakin University

Walker says networking can be just as uncomfortable for extroverts: ‘Sometimes extroverts don’t know when to pull back and that can add some anxiety as well. Knowing yourself and understanding that you are going to make a few mistakes makes it easier.’

‘Ultimately it’s about being genuine and asking open ended questions and doing a lot of listening,’ Walker advises. ‘Try to only do 25-30% of the talking and make sure you’re practicing active listening – don’t try to think of questions. Chances are that by listening to someone properly you will have more questions to come.’

Walker suggests you do plenty of research beforehand so that you understand the kind of people that will be in the room and the type of conversations you will be having. ‘Take note of anything that’s topical and relevant in the news that could lead into a conversation. If you can, take a friend along to the networking event so you can help each other through it, as it can be nerve-racking scenario the first few times that you do it.’

Reaching out to companies that you align with can be another way of networking. ‘We do know a lot of HR managers who think reaching out is a great skill,’ Walker says. ‘If you are comfortable to reach out to them then you’ll be comfortable to reach out to clients and colleagues.’

Walker suggests sending an introductory email with a generic resume and a link to your LinkedIn profile in case they wish to know more about you. ‘Again, you need to have done your research. If they go to your LinkedIn and you haven’t followed their company page it is going to look like your interest in their company is a little superficial.’

Don’t waste your time or the company’s time

Walker says there’s no point in casting the net too wide. ‘Spamming resumes used to be seen as a great tactic. For some people it works out but, ultimately, if you are not tailoring it then chances are you’re going to get overlooked so it’s a lot of effort for very little return.’

He suggests you get clear on what you’re passionate about as this may help you in the long run. ‘Make sure you focus your time and efforts on roles that you genuinely do want because that is going to create the right language for cover letters and resumes.’ Using the right language could fast track you past the automated processes and into the office of someone who might just turn out to be your new boss.

Keen for more recruitment tips? Learn more about how to land your dream graduate job.

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Gavin Walker
Gavin Walker

Manager, Graduate Employment Division, Deakin University

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