How do we put the human back in human resources?

In my job search, I've come to understand a bit more about the impersonal presentation of the modern recruiting process.

Of course, all applications are submitted via the Internet. That makes sense from an efficiency standpoint and I have no issue with that. However, for the most part, larger organizations are using one of two online tools to facilitate this process, Taleo and Njoyn.

I have more experience with Taleo as it's the tool my previous employer uses so I've been on the receiving end of the information in the recent past. From the hiring manager's perspective, it's mainly a database of collected resumes and cover letters. There's a bit of automation for ranking and sorting candidates. It can be very useful when selecting a short list of candidates. I will make the assumption that the Njoyn back-end is similar.

From the applicant's perspective, the experience is not ideal. You perform a search of available jobs with common search filters, such as date posted and location, and have the option of including some keywords to tighten the results. That's for the most part straight-forward. The only issue here is that the keywords are subjective based on the mindset of the recruiter or hiring manager. Assuming the applicant doesn't already work for the organization, conflicts in terminology can easily arise rendering keywords useless.

Once you've found an available job, Job ID K45J6S: Project Manager, you labour through the application submission process. Before you begin the process, you've done your organizing so you have a beautiful résumé and cover letter all ready to go. As you begin, you really understand how mechanical it all feels. The system wants to 'read' your résumé and extract the text to fill its pre-determined fields. Fine, let's play along. When you view the result, it's typically a mess due to all of the beautiful formatting being stripped away. So you spend ten minutes or so cleaning things up to ensure you still appear competent on paper.

The application process has been the same, regardless of organization or industry. The platform is very generic and that's the downfall. Certainly each organization has specific needs that they are trying to meet. There is no character, no human aspect of this process. Why would an applicant wish to work for you? (Other than the job is better than unemployment, that is presented to the applicant.)

How do we fix this? It's easy to complain that's it's a bad situation. Here's one approach.

Automation is still necessary in today's environment so that doesn't change. The change comes in the form of a customizable workflow that the recruiter can manipulate to benefit the individual organization, department, or job. An example could look like this:

This is only one approach and one I've crafted after about 45 minutes of effort. The application process can be efficient while incorporating the personality of the individual organization and/or department. If the applicant is going to invest time in the application process, it's better spent providing the employer with detail as to why they are the best candidate for the job and not spent on clerical tasks, such as reformatting content.