The Recruiting Coach – The Future For Recruiters

February 21, 2018


Director, Reporting & Analytics

Korn Ferry Futurestep


ecruiting is one of the oldest professions in the world (but definitely not the oldest). Records of employers using recruiters date back over two-thousand years. Julius Caesar had an employee referral program in 55 B.C., offering soldiers a third of their annual pay, for bringing anyone to join the Roman army. Other practices associated with recruitment date back even further. The Chinese used assessments to select civil service employees as far back as 1131 B.C. Looking at recruitment practices over history it seems that little has changed over the millennia. 

Recruiters today are doing essentially the same work they have always done. The tools have changed, but the job is the same it was in the time of Julius Caesar – analyzing job requirements, attracting employees to that job, screening and selecting applicants.

But now we are at a pivotal point, where technology can do or will soon do every single task in a recruiter’s job description. Software applications developed with Artificial Intelligence, or more precisely machine learning, can parse a job description into key requirements, identify prospects, use assessment data to evaluate applicants, and make a recommendation on who to hire.

For a preview of how this can work read about Unilever’s process for hiring interns, which is almost completely based on algorithms doing the work previously done by recruiters. It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future (old Danish proverb), but in this case the future appears clear. The role of a recruiter, as it exists today, is going to go the way of Netscape and AOL.

Half of senior outside hires fail within 18 months


The New Recruiter

So what is the future for recruiting and recruiters? While the job may have remained the same for through the centuries, the results delivered could certainly be better. Depending on who you ask, the estimates for how many new hires fail range from 20% – 60%. While impossible to pin down an exact number we know that significant numbers of new hires leave or are fired within 6 months. Research by SHRM shows that half of all hourly workers leave new jobs in the first four months, and half of senior outside hires fail within 18 months. SHRM suggests that a major cause of failure and turnover is an inability of employers to effectively integrate new hires. Success requires addressing three Cs – Clarification, Culture, and Connection.

Ensuring that all three are done correctly is a role that should be taken on by recruiters. Historically there has not been much time available to recruiters to do so, but with technology taking over more tasks, the time will certainly be there. Looking at each, here’s what I see as what a recruiter can contribute:

Clarification refers to ensuring that employees understand their new jobs and all related expectations. The need for this may seem obvious, but goals and expectations need to be explicit and often are left unstated. A recruiter has a relationship with a hiring manager and is usually the one person inside an organization that knows the new hire best. The recruiter then is ideally placed to ensure that goals and expectations are spelled out and explained to the new hire.

Culture is a broad category that includes providing employees with a sense of organizational norms — both formal and informal. This is perhaps the most neglected aspect of recruiting – ensuring culture fit, and one that cannot be easily automated. A recruiter knows, or should know, what an organization’s culture is – values, social aspects, and the reasons people succeed. Most employers like to pretend that any qualified candidate can work and succeed in their culture but this is a fallacy. This has been known for a long time. The British army has for centuries put together its units with people all hired from the same town or region to ensure their culture and values don’t clash. If employees don’t share values and fit into the culture then it requires a great deal of effort to ensure they form a cohesive team. Throw in diversity goals and the mountain being climbed gets even higher. Otherwise hiring people that are a square peg in a round hole in relation to the culture is usually setting up the employee for failure, as was demonstrated by the case of James Damore at Google. Someone whose values are very different from those of the employer has little chance of success or advancement. They have to come to work in an environment knowing their views may be tolerated but likely never accepted. At a minimum a recruiter should take the time to evaluate how well a candidate fits with the organization’s culture and educate them if there is not a fit and what would they should expect if they do get hired.  At the risk of sounding flippant, there’s no law that prevents an employer from rejecting candidates that don’t fit the culture.


Connection refers to the vital interpersonal relationships and information networks that new employees must establish. Joining the right networks is crucial to succeeding in a new job, but few organizations make the effort to ensure that new hires get to do so. This is again a task for the recruiter to do. That is, helping new hires get introduced to the right people, finding a mentor, and knowing who to reach out to for help. There is no product that can automate this.

“At the risk of sounding flippant, there’s no law that prevents an employer from rejecting candidates that don’t fit the culture.”


Think of a recruiter’s role in the future as having a job with two parts. One being oversight of the technology needed to hire employees and ensuring that it is adapted to the organization’s needs. The second part being focused on helping new hires integrate into the organization. The second part is more difficult and adds more value than anything recruiters do today.

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Raghav Singh

Raghav Singh

Director, Reporting & Analytics

Raghav Singh leads the analytics team for Korn Ferry Futurestep, one of the largest providers of talent acquisition and management services in the world. He has previously headed up product management and development at several leading vendors of HR and talent management software. Prior to a career in technology, he led talent acquisition for United Health Group. He is a frequent speaker on topics related to talent acquisition and technology and writes regularly on the subject.

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