Technology’s Impact on Executive Recruiting

What is the effect of technology on executive recruiting?

According to some recent articles, technology is encroaching on the executive recruiting world. By how much, though, is still a question.

The difficulty, in my opinion, is finding a meaningful connection between “qualitative” data and “quantitative” data.

Social networking programs such as “” provide an incredible means for individuals to list their qualifications in terms of “core competencies” and “critical skills.” But, while these may be listed or articulated in some way, it is difficult to actually put a meaningful “number” on such skills to pinpoint the level of competency.

For example, in physics it is easy to quantify force, energy, work, etc. One needs the units of “newtons,” “joules (newton-meters),” etc.

But what are the units of measurement for skills?

Can you substitute the qualitative measure of skills as measured by the JUDGEMENT of a recruiter with a quantitative number? That is, can you say that an individual’s written communications skills are at the level of “three whatevers?”

Not yet . . . but those days may be coming.

The impact of technology on some of the basic processes of executive recruiting is already significant.

In the “old days,” a recruiter would make “sourcing calls” to individuals to find out if he/she knew of anyone (perhaps the individual him/herself) who might fit a particular executive recruiting profile. If so, then either the recruiter had a potential candidate right there, or would have narrowed the focus of the search to potential candidates who more closely fit the desired profile.

With more sophisticated databases, the executive recruiters have streamlined the sourcing process – some more efficiently than others. This significantly shortens the entire recruiting process.

In a recent article, “Recruiters: Your days are Numbered,” Lior Shamir points out that such software packages as BranchOut, Jobvite, and HireRabbit are “ . . . shifting the responsibility of recruitment away from recruiting professionals and toward company employees, who get rewarded for connecting their networks to their employers.”

Another human resource software resource is – a leading provider of SaaS recruiting and staffing software for staffing, executive search, corporate HR, and outsourcing firms.

In another one of my “opinions,” I think that there is a significant gap between what these software packages offer and the professional judgment that a seasoned executive recruiter brings to the table. The “executive recruiting pro” is currently the translator between the “qualitative” skill/qualification data and the “quantitative” measure of those skills/qualifications.

If I had the capacity to create some “judgement software,” that’s where I would put my efforts. When (and if) that ever happens – not by me, to be sure – then the days of the outside recruiter will be numbered.

Until then, the “value added” by the executive search professional is still there – but that value, for those firms who do not stay abreast or ahead of the emerging technology, is diminishing rapidly.


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