The Power and the Potential

THE FRONTLINE - Taufik Arief, president, People Search, Indonesia and Asia Director for NPA Worldwide on the future of recruitment and technology.

Some people have said recruitment will be replaced by machines. Others believe the head hunting industry will disappear. Whatever happens, technology, especially social media, has changed recruitment practices massively, and it’s continuously happening. But what is the reality? By analysing the value chain in recruitment, both transactionally and analytically it is possible to gain a more realistic insight. From what follows, it is clear that some recruiters are likely to the feel pain of change. However, others might smell opportunity.

Sourcing candidates

The part of the recruitment chain most impacted by technology is talent sourcing. Combining social media inclusivity and expanded algorithms usage is the most crucial factor in delivering impact here. Continuously, more talent. is joining social media, theoretically at least making them more accessible to recruiters and employers. Improved algorithms enable recruiters to search for the talents they need across social media. If you are good in Boolean search you will be able to narrow down and expand your talent search as you wish. Overall, we see more user friendly applications such as Hiretual emerging in the market, tools which are really effective in performing talent searches across social media platforms, saving time and energy.

The big question is whether this much wider talent accessibility always leading to a successful talent sourcing? The fact is in the recruitment world, we don't stop at the point of identifying talent. We then need to connect, communicate and influence. Social media messaging services enable us to reach out to multiple talents, anytime and anywhere. We can even use default templates to send the message to multiple contacts instantly. It looks beautiful, as we just need to sit down with our laptop and let the ‘artificial intelligence’ work for us in identifying or even attracting top talents.

However, from our observation the response rate from messages sent over social media platforms is not big enough to fulfill our needs. According to Social Talent's 2016 data, on average recruiters only received a 28 per cent response rate to the LinkedIn messages they sent (see their video here:

On top of that it should not be forgotten that a response does not guarantee successful talent sourcing. Some of those responding might reject the opportunity or simply not be suitable. In conclusion, then, the majority of talent found by social media search will also need another type of sourcing approach. They will require phone calls, meetings, supportive recommendations and networking links, all of which are typical of traditional recruitment approach.

We need to remember, talent sourcing within social media also might create a long ‘sourcing funnel’, where you have to probably identify hundreds of talents to produce one single placement. This might be not efficient. Traditional recruitment is about cutting the funnel, so recruiters work through referrals and recommendations to produce the fewest – but most suitable – number of qualified candidates.

A recruiter, who relies only on social media messaging service clearly loses contact with the biggest section of available talent, because that talent does not respond to social media messages.

We need recruiters who naturally get connected with people, and swiftly deal with recruitment transactions. Recruiters need to combine good searching skills across the internet, with strong analytical ability and tremendous networking skills in one single package.


Many video call applications such as Skype, Zoom and Facetime enable cross border and cross-state interview processes. In the past, we assisted a French/Australian company to hire a manager at Dubai, interviewing talent from Eastern Europe, collaborating with a local partner in Russia, and finally placing people from Poland. That was doable due to video call technology, affordable and secure enough for our purposes. Certainly this kind of technology will enable further global talent mobility, as a country might face talent scarcity (for certain qualifications) locally.

The current practice of video interview application also signals a different game in recruitment practice. Instead of coming to a certain location and pre-screening hundreds of candidates, now recruiters can do it from their office, home or coffee shop. They just need to set several questions, post them to a video interview application, let the candidate run the interview session themselves with their mobile phone, tablet and PC, and then the recruiters can review the video anytime and anywhere. As long as internet penetration is high, recruiters can save their time, money and focus.

Assessment and background checking

Besides doing face to face interviews, clients and recruiters can now request candidates to take independent assessment tests. Today, there are many online assessment tools available in the market and recruiters can choose one that reflects their needs and budget allocation. Globally available assessment tools can enlarge both the candidate sample and data, which might make the recruitment process more credible and provide more information for further analysis. In the long run this will surely give more benefit for users. Another important aspect of these tests is that candidates can take them 24/7 anywhere they have access internet. This again can reduce recruitment lead time compared to the paper and pencil era.

Social media can also reveal the behaviour of the talent, including a candidate's emotional intelligence, personal values and even their intellectual capacity. Data crawling over social media can quickly scan a talent's behaviour and the employer can decide quickly whether the talent is aligned with their corporate values or not.

Offering and negotiation

Drafting and delivering the offer letter, followed by the negotiation process are quite sterile for technology advancement since this is really an area for human interaction alone. That said, technology may have a role here in offering supportive information which can help the talent understand about local living cost comparison, education information, etc

Employers, for certain roles, might utilise online payroll surveys, which might be available locally. That said, since these surveys are usually not done with specific survey/research mythology then scientifically it could be hard to prove they are credible.

Employer branding

Employer branding has entered new phase with the support of social media and their supporting applications. Social media and company websites offer employers the chance to share their employee value preposition (EVP) with a large audience. Specific applications such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor enable employers to showcase their EVP, company culture and success story in the right place. Email circulation applications such as mail chimp also enable employers to be in touch with their potential employees continuously, with very minimal cost.

Despite the involvement of technology, recruiters and employers still need to engage in off-line activities such as campus road shows, business and talent gathering, creating communities as channels to attract the most suitable talents to their companies. Indeed, while mass communication is important, reaching out to talent directly can mean more for potential candidates.

Understanding the talent market

Every employer and recruiter needs to understand their talent market. Social media and LinkedIn n particular enables companies to understand the overall market. A leading FMCG company now can predict how many brand managers are available in the market who would also align with their product line, customer segment and even pricing. This is something that was incredibly hard to do in the past when were not as connected as we are today.

Algorithms and more supporting applications now enable us to do this kind of talent analysis. With a more open talent market, employers today can do their man power planning, people development and succession planning. If they do not see someone suitable internally, they can access easily talents outside of their organisation.

If you see other technology impacts in your recruitment practice, feel free to contact The Global Recruiter on or the author of this article on