How to Keep a Personal Touch in Automated Recruiting

Thoughts and advice from our partners on balancing automation with personalization for a better candidate experience.

Danielle Riha
February 18, 2022

In an age where everyone is being asked to do more with less, automation can be quite appealing. And rightfully so, since 67% of companies say that the top benefit of using automation for recruiting and hiring is saving time.

But, if you’ve ever had a foiled exchange with a chatbot that fell flat, or if you’ve been incorrectly addressed by a broken personalization token in an email, you might have your doubts about utilizing automation in your own hiring processes.

So we turned to our arsenal of blue-collar industry experts and asked for their thoughts on the role of automation in HR, and how (or if?) it can be successfully balanced with personalization for a better candidate experience.

Scott Molchan, Landscaping Industry Consultant (Million Dollar Landscaper)

Automation is an important first step in the hiring process. Automation makes it easy for potential employees to apply and easy for employers to follow up. Everyone is busy so taking advantage of what automation has to offer will make for a smoother and more effective hiring process than trying to do everything on your own.

Mike Raymer, Staffing, Recruiting and Retention Consultant (Gray Wolf Strategies)

I believe if you’re not using technology to mitigate the burden of repetitive tasks you are missing out on some of the best recruiting tools that are currently offered. However, I do believe in balance and by no means do I recommend abandoning personal involvement in the recruiting process. A few automation tools to consider would be: scheduling software, online evaluations, prescreen videos with short question and answer forms, and other standard automated ATS or CRM tools. These tools cut down time and, in this market, time is more valuable than ever.

Neal Glatt, Landscaping Industry Consultant (Grow the Bench)

We always need to connect with people personally and work faster. If we are impersonal, we'll lose applicants. If we wait too long, we'll lose applicants. Automation is so advanced today that it should never sacrifice personalization. The key is to automate only the aspects of a task that are time-consuming and repeatable in order to provide more personalization in the process.

Kelly Dowell, Landscaping Industry Consultant (Keldo Digital)

Automation in recruiting shouldn’t be a scary word. As consumers, we expect automation, and so do these applicants. They expect a level of professionalism, and to be professional you have to respond right away. You can’t be all places at once, but you can set this up in advance so that it does seem like you are.

Something that feels personalized but can be automated and sent to anybody is a video. For example, when someone completes the application on your website, redirect them to a new landing page that has a video that explains what the next steps are in the process so they know what to expect. You could even take it a step further and show them a video tour of the shop, or a video of how to find your building if people often get lost on their way to interviews. Video works well as a balance between automation and personalization because you don’t have to update it very often, and it feels personalized to the applicant at that point in their employee journey.

Jack Jostes (host of The Landscaper’s Guide Podcast and CEO of Ramblin Jackson)

Automation is essential to growing a business. If you can automate what a human is doing, you absolutely should. With that said, there needs to be a balance with customer experience.

I believe that automation frees up time for your staff to spend time on the customer experience in the areas that make sense. Customers appreciate efficiency, and they also want to feel like a customer.

A great example of using automation to improve the customer experience is online scheduling for appointments. Many trades businesses are understaffed right now, so they can be slow in replying to new leads and/or scheduling. When you allow clients to schedule online, they are able to get what they want faster—without the business needing to spend as much personnel time coordinating scheduling.

Jeffrey Scott, Landscaping Industry Consultant (Jeffrey Scott Consulting, Inc.)

All companies should have an applicant tracking software (ATS), so that you can automate everything about recruiting, including texting to prospects. I tell every one of my clients to get on board with an ATS. (See our list of ATS examples if you're not already using one.) This has become a must-do for companies that want to scale. You can’t scale without having processes figured out and without having your team bought in to those processes. A process can be as simple as a checklist. Processes by their nature are not personalized, unless that is part of the process. It’s best to have your team help you co-create (or create themselves) the processes they must follow, so that they will understand them and want to follow them. That is your best bet to ensure that people don’t resort to winging a process for no good reason.

Bahaa Moukadam, Business Coach (SeeMetrics Partners)

Automation must be used in the early stage of screening candidates and personalization should become the main way to engage with the handful of high potential candidates.

Joe Policastro, Landscaping Industry Consultant (Cycle CPA)

With client or job candidate communication, it’s difficult to replace personalization with automation in some circumstances. Knowing your client and employee retention data allows for you to test different automation methods; the numbers don’t lie. If I was a candidate, I would be more impressed with a business that has a streamlined and automated hiring process. I would view this as professional and modern, but I would still put emphasis on the personalization and interaction during the interview.

It seems that the consensus is yes, HR automation is helpful (and expected) in the employee hiring experience. In fact, automation may even be necessary to get a leg up on competition through speed and efficiency.

Crucially, HR automation improves the hiring experience by freeing HR professionals of repetitive tasks, thus giving them more time to focus on quality interactions with candidates. The technology has also advanced to the point that personalization is often built into the app or software, such as with Team Engine’s automated hiring assistant.

(The benefits or HR automation don’t stop at the bottom of the hiring funnel, either. For starters, here’s five types of employee communications you can automate to save time.)

Always let authenticity be your north star when engaging with candidates, but don't be afraid to lean on automation tools for efficiency, either.

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