Online recruitment – Adding to the power imbalance

It would be overly simplistic, and extremely uninteresting for you, if I were to say that technology has changed the way we live, work, and play. Probably, quite rightly so, you would just mercilessly click away from my blog, depriving me of those page views that we bloggers so desperately collect and treasure.

But you know what, I’m going to say it anyway: Technology has changed our lives. There you have it.

Of course, I need  and I will,  qualify this statement. And I’m going to do so because I want to have a whine about the use of technology in human resources and online recruitment.

So,  my question today is the following:

Does the use of multiple online technologies available to recruiters dehumanise the recruitment process (more so than what it already was) and enhance the power position of recruitment agencies, human resource departments and, ultimately, recruiters?

Z: The sign of disacceleration

Peachy for the industry…

Most people will tell you that technology has had a highly positive impact on the way employees are recruited nowadays. By applying a number of what has been called e-recruitment tactics, employers have a greater reach, an easier access to people with niche skills, a faster, more economical recruitment process that runs 24/7 without them having to handle applications over the phone during office hours.

It’s seems that is all peachy (and I must clarify that I am a passionate and avid user of technology and I’m ecstatic by the fact that I no longer have to spend endless hours waiting for the sound of the postman’s bike reaching my neighbourhood to deliver a much awaited letter and can, instead have my say and talk to family, friends and colleagues at a single click of the mouse).

But no, it’s not all peachy.

For a start, agencies or HR departments have to deal with the very large volume of resumes posted online, screening and short listing much larger number of candidates than ever before, increasing the chance of overlooking the right candidate simply because their CV came at the wrong time or ended up in the junk mail.

Social networking helps in getting faster response and interactions but, can we really judge anyone by the comments posted on Facebook or the image built on LinkedIn?  Ask yourselves.

Peachy for the recruit … not

But let’s stand for a second in the shoes of the recruit-to-be who not only has to struggle with an extremely volatile economy worldwide but has to keep abreast of every single new general or industry specific recruitment platform where to post or bid for jobs, daily. Then, once their next casual or temporary position or shift or weekend or night position or even work-for-nothing position  appears advertised, they need to waste another hour of their lives just to write a cover letter specifically targeted to please the employer or the agency. And we all know, that, it will, anyway, end up in the proverbial trash.

And then comes the wait. And after the wait the occasional cold – monotonous, impersonal call – from someone who wants to put you on the spot wherever you are, on the bus, having a run, having a nap, it doesn’t matter. You have to be at your best, because if they have honoured you with their time of the day, your brain needs to be able to react immediately to the scripted questions that will send you out of the equation or will grant you audience for a face-to-face round.

Now, the interesting part. Because, when the job-seeker is part of the shortlisted few and called on for a first round of interviews,  having to undergo the stressful  wait shared with other candidates, then, he or she has to put up with an almost offensive interviewer who, much like a vulture, is waiting for them to commit that deadly mistake that makes them fall to their death.  Power imbalance at its best.

But, wait, it doesn’t end here. There is a second round. And a second, this time even more abrupt, unpleasant HR “expert” drilling you this time.  And you are told you will be called. Don’t you dare call us. We will call you.

And so you wait, one, two weeks. And they call you for round three. But before entering the bullring they do remind you that this is only a 6 months position. Yes, you are still interested. And you are interviewed again. And you play the game, same questions asked, same power play.

And then, there is silence.


And this is the part of the process where I really question what is the point of using technology to  streamline HR work practices when these recruiters seem to be completely unable or unwilling to inform candidates that after having invested a large quantity of time and even some money (the transport in Sydney is not cheap),  they will not be getting an answer, neither a positive nor a negative one.

Because, when technology did not lead the way we worked, and a recruiter had to send you a letter by snail mail or give you a phone call, in most cases they did. And if they didn’t, well, it was fairly understandable. But it’s beyond me that someone who only needs to create a single message (in the worst of cases) to inform a candidate that they’ve been unsuccessful, don’t do it.

To me, power comes into play once again, this time not only in intimidating, unidirectional way interviews are conducted, but also in the way candidates are treated as another faceless CV in the inbox, not worth clicking a mouse to be kept out of the darkness.

And I don’t like that.

How about you?


2 thoughts on “Online recruitment – Adding to the power imbalance

  1. How true it is… have gone through all these kinds of things you described as well in Australia as in Germany 🙂 it´s a ridiculous way of treating people and very frustrating, especially when countries cliam that there are not enough high educated people with specific skills.

    • Unfortunately, I think there will be a lot of people with very similar stories, all over the world. It would be very interesting to here versions of the same in other countries. But I’m really sorry that you are put through this. I, in fact think it’s quite the opposite from what they claim:We have large numbers of extremely well educated, highly specialised people with multilingual abilities which are not getting anywhere. But we have to remain positive and think that soon enough, everyone is given a chance in this very unfair system. Good luck!

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