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Apr 4, 2019

Many managers are trying to fix their sourcing and recruitment primarily with new tools that appear on the market, such as AI and machine learning. Some of those tools are promising instant solutions for your current problems. You are struggling to find enough talent, but with just a few clicks, your pipeline will be full of candidates. Or if you don’t have enough referrals, implement a new tool, and you will get 80% more referrals. Each new tool brings a new promise for its users.

I’m not saying that those tools don’t work in that was as salespeople promote them or that they won’t help solve the problem. But most of those tools only promise a solution and are far from perfect. They are not that silver bullet solution that managers are trying to find.

Over the last two years, I have spoken with hundreds of recruiters and talent sourcers across the world, trying to understand what tools they want, how they work, and how their companies are solving various recruitment and sourcing issues. I was quite surprised to learn that companies don’t have a problem investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in technology solutions that promise a more significant pipeline, better diversity, more tempting ads, and more, yet their investment in their team was close to zero.

I also spoke with many leaders about how they are investing, what tools they are buying, and what problems they are trying to solve. Sometimes, simple issues were resolved with expensive tools instead of teaching their sourcing team how to find the right people and how to approach them. In most cases, companies could save a fortune on those tools and invest part of that money in their teams to quickly fix the issue they were facing. Recruiters are still the first people who contact candidates, and they are responsible for the first impression that candidates get about the company. But very often, this fact was overlooked.

Many managers see a bigger value in technology than people. One leader I have known for years invested a fortune in tools that he saw at one recruitment event, and he told me that those tools would help him solve all the issues that people have not been able to solve for some time. That was a valid comment because some things can be resolved better with the right technology. But if your problems are managers and your company culture, then your new tool could triple your pipeline, but your results will be the same.

Recruitment is still about relationships and human interaction. That’s why recruiters are even better at collecting and sharing feedback from candidates and the market than any technology currently available.

Because my friend spent a small fortune on all those tools, I asked him how much money he invested in his team during the year to solve the issues he and his team were facing. He said, “These tools will give our recruitment team an advantage over our competitors, and those tools are not going to give notice and quit if we are paying them. Thanks to those tools, we are going to hire a more diverse team, and we will hire them faster.

We met again a year later at a conference, and I asked him if those tools solved all his hiring problems. He told me that they were still struggling with hiring and didn’t solve 80% of their problems. He came to this conference to check out some new tools that just appeared on the market. The tools he bought were not that good as was promised to him, and even though they were able to find some candidates for his team, his recruiters were not able to convince those candidates effectively.

I asked the same question as before: “How much you invested in your team?” The answer was “Zero. We used our budget for those tools.” In the end, his recruitment team still didn’t get any proper training, and because the manager invested a fortune in those tools, he blamed others for not using those tools correctly, because those tools should work.

Why It Is Good to Invest in People

Investing in tools only or people only is not going to solve the recruitment issue that companies have. But choosing to spend more on people than in technology could bring your company more benefits.

People Can Bring Innovation to Your Company

Many business managers believe that innovation comes along with technology. This may be partially true, but hiring the right kind of talent will also mean that your company will enjoy more innovation. That applies to the recruitment field too.

Innovation is not about using high-tech solutions but about enjoying the incredible ideas and projects generated by people with brilliant minds. Technology only offers the tools necessary to make these ideas and projects a reality, but it is the people and not the machines who come up with the ideas in the first place.

It is also worth mentioning that education and employee training are two key factors that lead to innovation. Instead of investing in the latest machines and tech solutions, it may be smarter to invest in training your people and developing them so that they become capable of generating innovative ideas.

What we all need to understand is that technology provides tools and solutions meant to make our work easier, make collaboration and communication more pleasant and productive, and stimulate creativity. But technology will not wake up one morning with an incredible idea that will change the fate of your company. Maybe not all people do that, but there is still a better chance that a person rather than a machine will have a great idea.

The ability of technology to generate innovation has been overrated in the past few years while staff training has remained underrated. Yes, people could leave, and one day they will. But they could stay for years, and they could also return to your company.

The more you invest in your people’s knowledge and training, the more innovation you can expect to reap.

Why Invest in People?

During my small research study (“Reasons Why People Quit Jobs: What I Learned During Ten Years”), I found that people were leaving companies because of a lack of opportunities to use their skills and abilities. People want to not only move up the company ladder but also expand their knowledge.

Harvard Business Review also reported that dissatisfaction with development opportunities is also one of the reasons why young managers leave their companies. We as humans don’t want to do receptive tasks. We are trying to use our skills, do meaningful work, and learn new things. When we are not growing, we look for new job opportunities somewhere else. That’s why so many people are open to new challenges that will give them the chance to learn something new.


In recruitment and sourcing, I have seen many leaders in companies and agencies hesitate to fund a mere $1,000 in training for their team but have no issue spending $100,000 in a tool that promises to bring them a more significant pipeline. In most cases, leaders don’t want to invest in their people, because if their people obtain new knowledge (or certification), they could leave for better opportunities, and those managers see that as a lost investment.

Every time I hear a similar story from recruiters that their manager doesn’t want to invest in their training and teams because they are afraid that their people will leave, it always reminds me of two quotes.

One from Peter Baeklund:

“CFO asks CEO: ‘What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave?’

“CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?’ ”

And one from Sir Richard Branson:

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don’t want to.”

Both those quotes perfectly describe why it’s essential to invest in people and not only technology. You could have the best tools on the market, but any tool is only as useful as the person operating it.

A recent example of what a lack of training could create is the tragic accident of two Boeing 737 Max-8 airplanes. Those planes had the latest piece of technology, but pilots were complaining that training for pilots lacks because airlines depend upon technology more and more to fly their planes and don’t train people well. It’s a sad example of how not educating people and depending on technology has enormous consequences.

Technology and all the latest tools are changing sourcing and recruitment. In many cases, they are changing things in a good way and helping us to be more effective and have more time for people by automating some receptive tasks and tasks that take a long time. For example, scheduling interviews is often a daunting task for any recruiter. They must find a time that works for everyone involved in the discussion and follow up with candidates every time there is a change. Tools have saved us from back-and-forth emails with candidates and hiring teams.

Even the best tools on the market are only as useful as those who operate them.

Investing in people and their training is the best decision a business leader can make. Together with the right tools, you could be sure that your business will thrive.

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