Technology has disrupted many industries, often by removing the human touch. We all buy stuff off Amazon, but the website’s our sales assistant now. Back in the day, you’d go into Blockbuster and have a chat with the film geek at the counter about the latest releases. Now we have Netflix. Great user-experience has replaced great service. Could the same happen in recruitment?

Everything’s changed, nothing’s changed.

There’s no doubt that technology has significantly disrupted recruitment. But not just the obvious stuff like job boards and LinkedIn. The iPhone put enormous computing power in everybody’s hands. Now, contractors can manage their finances and work on the go. Technology has empowered a whole generation of workers to strike out on their own and define how they want to work. This has led to an unprecedented rise in contingent workers. It’s a new world of work. But while technology helped build this world, how we manage contingent work has stayed pretty much the same.

These processed were developed before the digital revolution, and nothing much has changed. They’re still labour intensive and time consuming, it’s an inconvenience we just got used to.

Take compliance. We’re used to waiting up to 40 days for a contractor to pass compliance, that’s just the way it is. But with automation and bespoke APIs, 40 days can be reduced to minutes. Without any compromise on oversight or quality. As a matter of fact, because 90% of the compliance process can be automated, it removes human error and bad practice.

Payroll’s another area that’s ripe for transformation. There was a time when paying contingent workers through an Umbrella company was the best thing to do. The worker got all sorts of tax breaks and it was simple and easy for the recruiter and the end-hirer. But those days are gone. The tax breaks have disappeared and far from being simple and easy, getting paid through an Umbrella is complicated and unclear. The tide has turned. In a recent People survey, over 84% of contractors state they would be interested in a fee free PAYE alternative and 66% said this would influence their choice of recruitment agency. And yet what’s the most popular payroll choice amongst recruitment agencies? Umbrella.

Change is afoot

Regardless of what everybody says, most people don’t like change. We’re hardwired to be risk averse. Which was handy when we were being chased around by faster, stronger predators back in the day. But these days, being excessively risk averse is actually the riskiest thing you. We know that change is coming, whether we like it or not. So the question isn’t ‘Should we change?’, it’s ‘How should we change?’

It’s all about the relationship

 At People, we believe technology should bring recruiters and candidates closer, not drive them apart. Technology can ever replace a great recruiter. People are still people and there are a million nuanced factors that influence how successfully a candidate will get on in a new assignment. Great recruiters understand those nuances.

Start with the experience

 Every recruitment agency wants to be responsive, service-led and proactive. And that’s what technology can deliver. We’re talking about intelligent tools that help consultants find roles faster for contractors and make it easier for them to manage their own talent pools. Tools that take care of all the admin for contractors so that they can just crack on with work.

Technology can transform old-fashioned contingent management processes that were built in an analogue age, making them fast, smart and efficient. Compliance, payroll, benefits. They can all be reinvented.

But it’s all in service of the relationship between recruiter, worker and end-hirer.

A great recruiter will use technology to deliver for their contractor and client. Because the things that make a recruiter great have nothing to do with technology. It’s all about human capability, empathy and character. The skill is turbo-boosting that with tech that does all the heavy-lifting. Technology realises its potential when it helps recruiters realise theirs.