• Article
  • 12 Apr 2019

Is Recruitment Becoming like Tinder?

Is Recruitment Becoming like Tinder_.jpg + Listing Image

Technology brings with it a great many advantages. Better standards of living, leaps in medical care, useful innovations like the internet and the miniaturisation of technology.

Like the smartphone.

The advent of the smartphone brought with it tremendous convenience.

Not only could we make calls on the go, but we could use the internet, see the latest headlines and check the weather forecast with the utmost ease.

The introduction of apps to our daily lives has been a game-changer in how we consume information and communicate.

They have made everything from scrolling through your Facebook feed to online banking a matter of a few taps and swipes of your finger.

It was inevitable that this same level of convenience would translate to dating.

Tinder, and apps like it, has turned the anxiety-inducing experience of meeting a potential partner in a bar, workplace or at a party into an arbitrary swipe to the left or right.

This has its advantages. You don’t need to have to deal with unwanted attention. You can un-match anyone who is rude or unpleasant to you. Or for literally any other reason you care to think of.

And you can do this without consequence.

The social cost of ignoring someone you met at work or through a friend is – by comparison – significantly greater. It prevents us from dehumanising the person we had a bad date with.

Tinder, on the other hand, makes it very easy for app users to swipe left, un-match or ghost potential partners guilt-free.

This has a proven negative psychological impact on both parties.

Despite this, it was inevitable that the same patterns are starting to emerge in the recruitment industry.

There’s an App for that…unfortunately

A few apps have come on the market that has some parallels with the popular dating app.

Reed and Hunted both offers swipe left/right functionality, allowing users to discard roles solely based on the job title, salary and location.

The problem with this approach is candidates are missing out on opportunities because they’re not reading the job descriptions.

A job is more than a title or the nine to five. It’s about the company, the work and the rewards. Not just salary.

No one is expecting us to work for free – our time is valuable after all. Though, that can’t be our sole motivation for getting out of bed in the mornings.

If job seekers don’t stop to read the job description they can miss out on those key details and thus miss out on a great opportunity.

Although perhaps the upside for recruiters and employers is the app serves to weed out the people who simply can’t be bothered to take two minutes to read the job spec.

Those are not the right kind of candidates.

Which then leaves the question of how to engage with potential candidates who are a good fit?

Technology gives recruiters a multitude of options ranging from email to Facebook messenger. Even Snapchat.

There are untold success stories of recruiters leveraging alternative platforms to engage with candidates beyond the trusty telephone.

Of course, this depends on the demographics of your candidate base. If you’re in the executive search game, then your chances of engaging a senior executive on Snap Chat are remote. That’s not where they hang out.

It’s also arguably inappropriate to speak to someone of that level in that way. Context is important.

The result is we now find ourselves in a form of digital deadlock with job seekers on the one hand who want communication on their terms. Recruiters and employers on the other desperately trying to get their attention. But earning the ire of the would-be candidates in the process.

The Problem

Perhaps this is a response to an issue of our own making. Namely interruptions.

There are nearly 40,000 recruitment agencies trading in the UK (at time of writing) which means high demand candidates can receive a lot of emails, phone calls and InMails.

If someone is on the market, then it’s not a bad problem to have. Otherwise, that’s a lot of interruptions that gets irritating.

This creates an impasse. If job seekers aren’t reading job posts but don’t like being approached via calls and emails, the entire process becomes frustrated at both ends.

But should we be surprised?

For the most part, none of us particularly enjoy getting phone calls unless it's from people we know.

The reasons for this are:

  1. We don’t like being interrupted. A phone call suits the person making the call – not the person receiving it. The person receiving the call has no choice but to stop what they’re doing in order to speak.

That’s fine when it’s someone we know as – usually – we’re pleased to hear from them. If we can, we’ll make time to speak to the person. If not, we’ll arrange another time to speak.

  1. We’re a tribal species. If we don’t know you, the primitive part of our brain registers the call as a potential threat.

Which is why we’re instinctively hostile or cautious. But more than that – if we’re at work, a call from a recruiter poses a threat to our job security. It distracts us from what we should be doing. And if it’s your friendly neighbourhood recruiter on the line, there’s the added anxiety attached to speaking to someone about another job while on the clock.

Email and InMail are the obvious alternatives. They’re more passive (although still interruptive) and can be read when time permits. Research also suggests that Xennials and Millennials prefer this method of communication.

But, just as easily as the recipient can swipe lift, they can easily ignore an email or InMail.

This leaves recruiters and employers permanently high and dry. The irony is that – because this is a universal issue – every kind of business is affected.

That means teams are understaffed so under more pressure to perform with diminished capacity. This increases worker dissatisfaction and drives them to search for a new role.

Which the jobseeker can’t find because they aren’t engaging in the process.

What can be done?

There is no denying that the way jobseekers/candidates want to be communicated with is changing. They want to be communicated to on their terms.

That means learning what works for them.

Platforms like LinkedIn can help as users can set their profiles to whether they are looking for a new opportunity.

That gives recruiters a clear indication that they are open to opportunities. That doesn’t mean the potential candidate will reply to the message, but the chances are much higher.

Maybe apps are the answer after all.

Debut allows candidates to find and apply for roles. It also allows employers to identify suitable candidates based on a scoring model.

It’s quick and efficient – which appeals. It also allows for users to be communicated in a way they feel comfortable.

Most importantly, it means conversations start on the understanding that both parties are interested. A little bit like Tinder…

The downside is your success is entirely limited to the candidates or employers that have signed up.

This means – for the time being at least – we are limited to the existing methods of communication.

Therefore, the emphasis needs to be on making sure that any communications are worth the candidate’s time. Just as if messaging on a dating app, communications need to be enticing. Create intrigue. Give them a reason to reply beyond ‘I have an opportunity I want to discuss with you'.

Because why should the candidate care what we as recruiters want? Instead, why don’t we say:

‘I have a role that I think you’d be great for! Do you have time to discuss it?’

Putting the candidate first reduces that fight or flight response, making them more likely to respond.

We need to get into the mindset of putting the candidate first. We are, after all, interrupting their day and asking them to embark on a protracted recruitment process. When they may not have even been looking to move.

The rules have changed, and businesses need to change with it.


The migration to recruitment apps may be inevitable. Increasingly individuals and businesses want to clarify their communications. Cutting through the noise and those who aren’t interested and only deal with those who are.

Which makes quite a lot of sense. Although it does mean the people who aren’t actively looking but possibly open to the right opportunity would be overlooked.

A simple change of approach, putting the candidate’s comfort ahead of our convenience may be all that’s needed in order to engage candidates in a way that works for them.

This means searches become quicker, the process is more efficient and great candidates get placed in great roles.


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