If you visited a museum of antique recruitment practices, what curiosities would be on display? Rolodexes full of contact information, perhaps. Rotary telephones for setting up interviews. A map with tacks on it. But if the museum was curated by someone who knew their way around recruitment, you would see a number of things that still exist, and are commonly used.

1. A neglected applicant tracking system (ATS)

In the past, we stored information about past job applicants in file cabinets. The shift to computers made things easier, but too many employers fail to leverage their ATS as a recruitment resource. In a rush to bring new applicants, they forget about rising talents they may have interviewed in the past. The time might not have been right for those applicants. The position might not have been perfect. But needs change, and people evolve. That untapped ATS might contain fruitful, meaningful, and productive recruits. Better still, the applicants may now be hiring managers who, if they had a great experience with your brand, might well be converted to clients.

2. A transcript of a formulaic e-mail or phone call

According to LinkedIn, 70% of the global workforce is passive (i.e. not actively looking to switch jobs), while 87% of the entire workforce (passive and active) is open to a job switch. Translation: Getting the attention of talented people requires thoughtful, customised effort.

People who are driven and talented might receive e-mails, LinkedIn Messages, Tweets or phone calls from several different recruiters in the course of a given week. Employers expect job applicants to personalise resumes and cover letters to show specific interest in the company. When it comes to talent recruitment, this is absolutely a two-way street. Blanket statements won’t cut it. Individuals want to know that the job on offer is just what they are looking for, rather than feeling like they are the transactable solution to the recruiter’s problems.

3. An old job opening

Unlike fine wine, job openings generally do not improve with age. We’ve seen that if a hiring process is too long and laborious, top candidates will often take themselves out of contention, either by accepting another offer or by losing interest. When recruiting for a specific need, it’s better to spend more time strengthening your strategy (e.g. identify some of your top candidates or most desirable qualities) before you bright a job opening to market. If lightning strikes, you want to be able to capture it – not be weighed down in deliberations.

4. Needs-based recruiting

This history of recruitment begins with an obvious proposition: A company needs to fill a position, so it makes an appeal to the job market. That proposition, like Newton’s theory of gravitation, has been superseded. A need-based and transactional approach to recruitment is a relic from a bygone era. Recruitment today is a continuous interaction with the job market, and a sustained conversation with talented people. It doesn’t leave recruitment entirely in the lap of the gods – it seeks to establish a proactive stance in which the long-term relationships between people, values, and compensation are better understood. We don’t know what new job titles will appear in five years, nor what skillsets will find their way into our industries. A rigid view on who will be relevant tomorrow is about as dated as it gets.

5. Job postings that only talk about responsibilities

Job postings that include a detailed job description – but say nothing about the company culture or deeper purpose – are quaint indeed. Who would be interested in such an opportunity, here in a world where openings with forward-thinking companies are bountiful?

That’s not to say that job descriptions should be abstract; but they certainly shouldn’t be limited to a stern list of requirements. In the current marketplace they need to draw people in with a vision, an attitude, a set of values and a sense of purpose – with a promise of something much more than just a pay cheque.

Successful recruitment requires more

Years of experience in the changing world of talent recruitment has shown us that the past has many lessons to teach. It’s important to understand why those tools and methods were used in the first place, so that we can understand why they’re no longer enough.

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