Can Recruiters Be Robot-Proof?

Katrina Collier, professional recruiter and author of "The Robot-Proof Recruiter," thinks employers can effectively battle the bots of automation and maintain job security as we drive into the 21st Century. Oh, really?

We'll just have to see about that as Collier takes on Chad & Cheese, who are infinitely slurping from the bottle of robotic Kool-Aid. She surprisingly holds her own, as everyone comes out of the ring a little more black-and-blue, but still standing.


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Intro: Hide your kids, lock the doors, you're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, flash opinion and loads of snark. Buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese Podcast.

Joel: Oh yeah. What's up? Robot proof your recruiting.

Chad: Robot proof your ass. This is what it is. It's that time kids.

Joel: We're talking to an actual human who wrote an actual book on paper and stuff.

Chad: Yeah. They still do that.

Joel: So we're super excited today to introduce Katrina Collier. Katrina, welcome to HR's most dangerous podcast.

Chad: Katrina and the waves.

Joel: Walking on sunshine today.

Chad: Walking on sunshine.

Joel: Katrina is the author of The Robot-Proof Recruiter. Has Katrina said anything or she just so shocked.

Katrina: No, I'm too busy laughing. There was singing, I wasn't expecting singing.

Chad: There it is. A Survival Guide for Recruitment and Sourcing Professionals. Katrina, give us a little bit about you. Who the hell is Katrina Collier?

Katrina: That is a very long and complicated question.

Joel: What are you? Her therapist? Jesus.

Katrina: Yeah. I have been in the recruitment industry since 2003. Like everybody else, of course, I didn't

Joel: Oh, newbie.

Katrina: Sorry, newbie, yeah. Just for 16 years. I didn't plan to ever be a recruiter, but I saw this little advertisement in the paper, yes, a newspaper, and I thought, oh, I can do that. Then I came out around the recession, 2008, 2009, and thought, oh, I'm going to start training. Everyone's appearing online, why don't I just teach how to source on social media? Way too early. Then went in-house for a period of time, proved to myself I could do it. Then from January, 2012 up until about 2018 that's what I was doing. Then Kogan Page asked me if I would like to write a book and it absolutely blew my mind that I was asked. The little inner child came out like, "You're going to let me write a book?" But I was also very aware

Joel: It was that 50 grand advance, right?

Katrina: No, no. Yeah. No. Joel, is this why you haven't had a copy yet?

Joel: Because everyone gets rich writing books, I hear.

Katrina: No, I have to buy my own copies of the book.

Joel: Which is why I didn't get one, apparently.

Katrina: That's why you didn't get one. I might send you one later though, if you're lucky. If you behave. But, one of the questions I'm sure you're going to say is, who the hell do I think I am to write a book? And that was exactly it. I thought there's one thing to be training sourcing, well, sure, I have to be doing it, but I haven't recruited for a while. I pulled in 74 voices from the industry to help me to back this up with lots of hands-on opinion and that made me really proud of it.

Joel: Nice. Well, name drop. Drop some names so people can relate to some of the experts that you talked to.

Katrina: Well, talking because of experience, of course there had to be the Mr Gerry Crispin. Shannon Pritchett wrote the forward, bless their cotton socks for doing that. Oh, I'm having to look at the acknowledgement, there are so many. There's a few [Crosstalk [00:04:02.28]

Joel: Jim Stroud's in the way.

Chad: Oh, yeah.

Joel: Of course, Jim's in there, but there's tons from Europe as well. Yeah. But I also wanted to make sure that I've got European recruiters and I got some from back in my home country, from Australia in there as well. So it's a really global book. I also wanted to get the job search sites. I've got Hannah Morgan in there, for example, she's really well known. So there's some names that are known, like Tris Revill and there'll be others that you're like, I don't know who that is.

Joel: That's okay.

Katrina: Because I wanted it to be global, as well.

Chad: In that theme, what's the biggest difference between a recruiter from the UK and a recruiter from the United States?

Joel: About 30 IQ points?

Katrina: Well, other than we speak English properly, no kidding, what is the biggest difference? I would say, if you took a look at the way recruiters are perceived from an agency/in-house perception, I think the agency recruiters here are looked down on a lot more than the staffing are in the US. I think there's slightly more respect for recruitment in the US.

Chad: Really?

Katrina: I know that's a really strange answer to your question, but

Joel: More respect in the US. All right.

Katrina: A little bit more respect for what staffing do than what happens here. And I think that's unfortunately because of the cowboy attitude of the minority, has created that. But we have all the same challenges, inmails, spam, email spam, spam, just spam.

Katrina: When they came to me and said, "Do you want to write a book?" And I sat there having a little like, "What?" Because I'm so blunt, right? I'm so sick of the BS out there about, well, we have a sourcing tool that uses AI and we can just replace you. I'm like, but you're sourcing from someone's ability to write a resume or a profile and people can't do that. So how can your AI possibly do that? You have so much noise around the technology can just automate everything you're doing and you're just going, people don't want to talk to robots now. In the supermarket, they go to the human over the self checkout a lot of the time, you see that all the time. There's still tellers in the bank, even though there's an automatic teller machine. I'm going, "Someone's career, are we going to give our career?"

Joel: All the research and feedback we get is that job seekers like chatbots, because they're not dumped into the black hole of the resume database. So

Katrina: But that's when the applicant has applied. So they've got into. Where you see recruiters being replaced is a lot of the sourcing side and getting someone to actually apply, reaching out to people. For example, I talk about Ben Gledhill and Yodel with the chatbot they've got on their website, which is awesome. You go there and they're always recruiting courier drivers. It's, "Can you carry boxes, 30 kilos?" But you're, "No, I can't." So you're out of the process. And it will step you through the application as a chatbot. That's when people arrive, keeping them engaged and giving them the clarity and the certainty, which I talk about all the way through the book. Use the technology to give clarity and certainty, not to replace the human touch. In that respect, absolutely, I would want to talk to a chatbot then, but I wouldn't want to talk to one when I'm just getting in touch with someone about their career and whether they want to change jobs.

Joel: So you agree there are some levels of recruiting that are not robot proof?

Katrina: Yeah.

Joel: The entry, the first walking through the door application stuff?

Katrina: Yeah. I do think so, and I don't think I'm ever going to change my opinion on that. It's a career, right? If you look at ... I think it's even harder in the US because of your health insurance.

Chad: Yes.

Joel: Yeah.

Katrina: Therefore, people are more reluctant to change shops. So you've really got to woo them. [Amy Miller’s just changed jobs, they wooed her for a year. It's a big thing to change jobs. I just don't think that you can just get someone's attention with a spam email via a robot and start chatting with a chatbot at that point.