Young job candidates prefer the human touch

Employers risk losing out on talent by being out of touch with the preferences of young people in the recruitment process

Young people prefer a high level of human interaction over the use of technology in the recruitment process, according to research from The 5% Club and Schneider Electric UK.

The survey, of 1,000 young people and their employers, found that more than half (52%) of young people don’t believe that technology does a better job at identifying talent compared to human recruiters.

Just 1% said they feel more comfortable working with technology over people during the recruitment process.

Of those surveyed, 58% of young people would like a recruitment experience that is 25% tech-enabled and 75% human interaction.

The 5% Club said employers must find the balance between the 'human touch' points and the right forms of technology.

“'Human ‘touch’ points are still incredibly important for the young, with traditional forms of recruitment such as assessment days and face-to-face interviews favoured as an opportunity to build a relationship and see the company ‘brand’ in person,” said Penny Cobham, director general of The 5% Club.

The research also highlighted a disparity between the preferences of young candidates and what employers believe to be the preferences of this group. While two-thirds (67%) of employers said they believe young people expect to see technology being used in the recruitment process, only 18% of young people said they feel technology gave them an advantage in the process.

The types of technology currently used by employers also don't seem to match the types favoured by young people, the research showed.

While 74% of young people were positive about the use of cognitive gaming in recruitment, just 9% of employers said they use this tool. Similarly, experiences of online knowledge assessments (87%) and on-demand videos (75%) were rated as positive by the young people surveyed, but only put into practice by 38% and 29% of employers respectively.

Cobham encouraged employers to tailor their use of technology in recruitment “to fit with what young people find most appealing” or they risk losing out on talent.

“The 5% Club’s research shows that companies should be considering greater use of tools favoured by the young, such as cognitive gaming and online knowledge assessments,” she said.

“In a candidate-driven market and with many competitors vying for talent from the same pool, companies must consider the recruitment process as part of their employer brand. Part of this means understanding how young people want to be treated during the recruitment process, the tools used to assess potential and the candidate ‘journey’ – often the recruit’s first experience of the company. Getting the balance right between human ‘touch’ versus technology is vital if businesses are going to attract the best early talent, like apprentices, and ultimately fill roles.”

Peter Hogg, talent acquisition and mobility manager UK and Ireland at Schneider Electric, added: “If we want to attract and retain top talent we can’t ignore these findings. We must constantly strive to strike the right balance of technology and the ‘human touch’ throughout the process, offering the right guidance with the technology.”