We’re constantly bombarded with articles informing us that the digital age is upon us and that machines with increasingly more intuitive AI are ready to take over our jobs. And for many recruiters, this fear is real given then perceived takeover of our traditional role by LinkedIn, the job boards and clients’ own talent portals. And yet, despite the efficiency created by technology personalised effort will always matter. In a people business like recruitment and especially talent sourcing, the personal experience with client and candidate are proven time and again to be the difference between a successful placement and a failed effort.

In an article recently published by the Business Day, it was proposed that future-focused organisations are those that are building their products and services around human characteristics, avoiding the “easy way out” offered by technology. The author argued that many organisations simply lack the imagination and drive to put people first. Recruitment is the ultimate human interface business and demands of us to maintain the human connection, particularly in a world that is increasingly less personal and more automated.

Consider the last time you checked into a hotel – what do you remember? The staff’s hospitality and personalised attention is usually the element that holds the longest lasting effect. An interview should be no different. Although technology offers options when it comes to the platform utilised for the interview, the experience the candidate has with the people in then interview is what creates a lasting impression and one could argue that this simply cannot be digitised.

In a future where automation and digitisation become the norm, the ability to interact on a more personal, human-centric level is going to be more valuable. It was Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs who summed up the debate between technology and the humanities best, saying “technology alone is not enough – it’s technology married with the humanities that yields us the results that make our heart sing”. What Jobs understood intrinsically was that the most successful companies in the technological era remain those that understand the human condition and ensure that these elements are catered for.

At TSR we understand that our primary role is to interact with human beings who have needs, wants, fears and complex personal circumstances that drive their seemingly rationale, logical career decision-making processes. We believe that technology is an enabler and utilise this fully in our business but do not see it as a market disruptor. Rather, our focus is to remain true to our personal and professional experience, leveraging human touch and personal relationship to assist clients and candidates alike, building a sustainable business model for ourselves and enabling careers for the talent we represent and the competitive, future-proof organisations who entrust us with their talent management.

Yes, we can digitise parts of our service offering, but social and emotional intelligence are human characteristics that are not readily reduced to binary. Global futurist Gerd Leonhard argues that we can’t digitise humour, dreams, creativity, persuasion, self-consciousness, serendipity, inspiration, ethics, value sets, imagination or experience and these are precisely the subtleties that our clients are paying us to identify, assess and match with their requirements. Its not about keyword matching – it takes hard work and (usually several) in-depth conversation to get the emotional components of recruitment right, something that computers simply aren’t able to do.

In as much as recruitment is moving forward rapidly incorporating advancing technology, the most successful recruiters remain those with a solid foundation in old-school recruitment tactics. Morgan methodology, famously introduced in the 1990s spoke of the importance of belly-to-belly, eyeball-to-eyeball, heart-to-heart conversations that simply cannot be achieved despite the digital connectivity we all possess. The ability to meet with an individual candidate and to truly understand them – their drivers and their personal circumstances will remain a critical recruiter skill.

At TSR we pride ourselves on the time we spend getting to understand our clients and candidates alike. We fully accept that technology is an integral enabler in business today, but we do not believe that it’s an elixir for every part of the recruitment process. We know that we can dig deeper than a machine and provide our clients with the depth of information necessary to make great hiring decisions for today – and into the future. It’s hardly any wonder that we continue to work with clients and candidates who we’ve known for decades!

There’s power in people – more so than in machines – its time that we return to an emphasis on the human touch.