Talent Acquisition

Why Fast-Food Recruitment Sucks

Those who know me, know that I embrace modern technology, social media and social communications in marketing, branding and networking my business and profile. I believe it is a massive opportunity for good recruiters to attract great people seamlessly.

But the growing desire to make the recruitment process faster and more accessible; which on the face of it SEEMS like a good idea (with mobile technology and push-button calls to action such as ‘Apply With LinkedIn’), actually in my opinion does the contributors to large portions of the recruitment cycle more harm than good.


Well ok, let’s look at the positives for push-button options:

  • Easier and faster application process for the candidate.
  • More opportunities for more people to see and apply for our jobs.
  • More applications for our jobs.
  • Greater data collection, more applications allows better tracking options.
  • The creation potentially of a ‘talent pool’ through minimal administration for the recruiter.

So that’s all nice. Jobs are more accessible, applications are faster, easier and selecting is more simple.

So why am I not comfortable with this?

Well actually, I don’t actually see that this, in the main, is massively beneficial for the recruiter or the candidates.

Here’s why for the candidates:

  • The ‘LinkedIn CV’ is (apart from it’s wording) pretty standardised, linear and robotic. Not good news for the applicant, who surely should be aiming to present themselves as a stand-out candidates – choosing their own layout, font and optimisation and not looking the same as everyone else!
  • The fast-food routes encourage the option to apply without a covering letter – again denying them the opportunity to accentuate their key points of suitability to the role.
  • If the process is faster and easier, and significantly more applicants are applying with ease; then it is more difficult for each applicant to stand out in the busier crowd.
  • The greater the amount of easy applications made, the greater the ratio of rejections. That’s just basic maths. This is not encouraging to a job seeker.
  • The greater the amount of easy applications made, the greater likelihood of minimal or no contact from recruiters – lessening the candidate experience as a consequence.

And for the recruiter:

  • Actually, good recruiters don’t want MORE applications, they want the RIGHT applications!
  • The easier it is to apply, means a greater percentage of unsuitable applicants.
  • More applications are more time-consuming, deflecting focus on the right candidates, the important jobs, and increasing time spent on catering for bad applications.
  • The recruiter in most industries wants to differentiate candidates by more than words. They need to see individuality, stand-out features, cultural factors, presentation skills and attention to the job application. This is lessened by the fast-food methods.

Actually, I could go on – but you get the message:

As an agency recruiter, I have a fee to earn and justify. If I go fast-food, I don’t justify my service. I don’t want to ask jobseekers of all kinds to freely apply, and then ask them to form an orderly queue. I want to identify them as specialist and niche, on mutual ground, discussing mutual matters; be able to be recognise individual talent, be recognised for my work as a specialist, and be approachable as a person or company rather than a click.

Short-cuts are not the answer. For recruiters or for applicants. The job application and selection process is a serious business that requires the necessary attention and consideration on both parts.

If you have 100 Call Centre or Retail staff to find, or 50 operational IT professionals with simple skill identification and selection processes – then sure – these tools will help.

Faster doesn’t always mean better.  Easier definitely doesn’t mean better.

There’s a reason why a gourmet restaurant serves better food than Maccie-D’s!

By Steve Ward

Steve Ward has been recruiting for over 20 years, and following running his innovative agency CloudNine for 10 years, Steve returned to consulting and now works as a Talent Attraction Strategist for growing companies, helping build effective employer branding and social communications strategies.