How to Humanize the Recruiting & Hiring Process

The hiring process and recruiting is broken. It’s not just broken. It’s a complete disaster, and it’s making us as recruiters and HR professionals look bad. HR or recruiting will help but not solve this problem, but it’s not the Holy Grail. It takes focus and a commitment to doing things a different way.

Maybe at your employer, the hiring process is the best of breed. Maybe you’re not a best place to work. Most of us aren’t, but that doesn’t give us the excuse to throw our hands up and just walk away. Most of us don’t take candidate experience serious. We do absolutely nothing because we are too busy which in my mind is code for no one cares enough because my boss didn’t make it a priority. 

Action Not Excuses

I get it. You’re juggling a lot right now. I realize recruiters are swamped. We can’t hire fast enough. Our req loads are large. My friend, Andres Traslavina, a senior recruiter with Whole Foods Markets shared with me, he has 76 open job requisitions he is charged with filling. Our business shouldn’t keep us from providing the candidate feedback or at least an update. Those 76 job openings didn’t keep Andres from taking an hour to talk with me to more than 700 job seekers during my live Secrets of the Job Hunt internet show. The job seekers need our feedback expertise and mostly patience in order to succeed.

At AT&T the talent acquisition team engages candidates who are part of an active hiring process with a series of scheduled and sometimes automated engagements including text, email or a messages prompting a recruiter to call their candidate. They go to great lengths to build relationships and talk to candidates.

Unfortunately 99.9% of companies aren’t AT&T or Whole Foods Markets. The candidates aren’t getting any feedback and even if they are, they don’t think it’s enough. These candidates are the ones who need to the most job search education and mentoring.

Our candidates apply via an online process with little to no response, update and a follow up from a recruiter. Our automated emails tell job seekers not to reply back giving them no way to ask questions or get any feedback. These job seekers take to online forums, job seeker communities and possibly even to union websites and platforms to get the support they are desperately craving.

These past couple weeks I have spent some time fielding job seeker questions inside a community and HR technology called JobCase. It’s a professional network for the working class candidates and it’s clear to me, we, as talent acquisition leaders as a whole are failing miserably.

Spending any time in these forums whether JobCase or Indeed or some other community puts knots in my stomach and has me more motivated than ever to help provide information, education and resources for job seekers in need.

Humanize Recruitment and Hiring

For us, I believe it starts with humanizing the hiring process regardless of the economy or job market good or bad. Job seekers will always need our feedback, expertise and just a helping hand. This isn’t just about a candidate experience. It’s bigger than that. We, as talent acquisition leaders have to quit hiding behind technology and teach job seekers whether online, in person and also the agencies who support them including colleges, universities, vocational schools, unemployment offices and career centers. Because if we don’t help them, these candidates goes to other sources for information or they are left to their own imagination and job seekers have very wild and vivid imaginations that don’t always lead to our companies being seen favorably.


Humanizing hiring doesn’t have to be high tech. It doesn’t involve you spending millions of dollars in new tools, software and stuff. It starts with a simple commitment to providing feedback and follow up which you can do using the tools you already have starting with a phone call, email, social media or even a blog like I did with this site in 2007. I started Blogging4Jobs on a free Blogspot site (click here to see) in September of 2007 with the commitment or providing feedback and building relationships with job seekers using blogging.

In my last corporate role, I went even further than my blog having my team committed to calling on every single candidate that applied. Some were grateful but most were surprised and even found our calls hard to believe. It shouldn’t be like that. Candidates need to know we are out there. We need to talk with them. We need to tweet them and we need to anticipate their questions and give them resources to find the right job to suit their life goals, aspirations and family needs.

Because we fail to provide feedback, it’s the HR, recruiters or hiring managers who are villainized in the process by angry, neglected or frustrated job seekers. We need to start building up our job seeker communities providing them resources to be successful today.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

Reader Interactions


  1. Brendan Shelton says

    My aunt has a tech company that is looking to hire several new people to join some of her teams. She is noticing that a lot of candidates are applying even though the aren’t nearly qualified enough to get the position. I’ll let her know that she could really help some of these people by communicating with them as you said and helping them understand why they aren’t getting contacted.


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