Vanessa Raath: misapplication of AI risks discrediting the recruitment industry


Vanessa Raath, The Talent Hunter, is a familiar name to recruiters and TA specialists around the world.

Vanessa actively shares her knowledge with fellow recruiters on LinkedIn, her YouTube channel, and her website, where you can access training courses. Vanessa’s Online Academy was launched in 2023.

Like many Recruiters, Vanessa’s path to the career was not linear – she has been a school teacher in London, a ski chairlift operator in the USA and a scuba diving instructor in Southeast Asia and Eastern Africa. She is currently residing in the beautiful country of South Africa.

She also participated in our end-of-the-year webinar about recruitment trends for 2024. Read Vanessa Raath’s insights from the webinar here.

How did you get started in recruitment/talent management/HR? Was working in talent management something you always wanted to do?

No! I don’t think anyone ever grows up with a burning desire to be a Recruiter! We all wanted to be Doctors, Teachers or Firefighters… I fell into Recruitment after a Recruitment Agency hired me (took pity on me) after I interviewed with them. I knew nothing about business or recruitment when I started, so it was a very steep learning curve, but I loved it from the first day.

What would you say is a common misconception about the work of a recruiter/TA manager/HR professional?

A common misconception is that we can help ANYONE find a job. This is incorrect. We are normally very specialised in an industry or a company, so we can only help a small percentage of our friends and family!

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve managed to overcome or improve on during your career so far? How did you do it?

One of the biggest challenges was trying to hire at scale in the Tech sector. A sector that is notoriously well-known for having a very scarce talent pool. I managed to overcome this by getting really involved in the tech sector. I spoke at community events and tech conferences and gave out a lot of career advice for free. It took me years to become accepted into this community, but when I did, it made recruiting Tech folks a whole lot easier…

What are some of the most rewarding experiences or achievements you’ve had in your career so far?

This was definitely when I was doing Graduate Recruiting. It was amazing to find students fresh out of university with a passion for succeeding in life and giving them their first opportunity to shine. This has been the most rewarding type of recruiting that I have done.

What kind of experiences have you had as a candidate yourself? Any experiences that stand out?

Thankfully, I have never really been a candidate. I have always been headhunted into positions, so I have always been treated very well! I am on the receiving end of some pretty shocking ChatGPT-generated headhunting emails these days, which I just ignore!

I am both worried and excited about AI coming into play in this recruitment industry. If used correctly, putting the human experience at the forefront of all interactions can be amazing. But if the Recruiters are lazy and rely too heavily on it to spam candidates, it will make our industry look even worse than it already is…

What do you feel is special about your current place of work? Why should people apply?

As a solopreneur, I am constantly turning people away who approach me to work for me. I don’t enjoy running a team or managing people as I prefer to position myself as the SME, subject matter expert in the Talent Sourcing field.

What tools that you use in your day-to-day work are the most valuable to you? What do you use them for?

  • My favourite tool is the Magical Chrome Extension, as it saves me loads of time when communicating with people on LinkedIn.
  • I also use ChatGPT4 a lot, especially to bounce questions off, as working as a Solopreneur can be lonely at times.
  • I am also an ambassador for loads of sourcing tools and email campaign generators, which also work really well.

In your opinion, what are the most critical skills and qualities a recruiter should possess to be successful in this field?

They need to have and show empathy. Basically, they need to be Human. Recruiters who put themselves in the shoes of their Candidates and Clients are always the most successful Recruiters. I have observed this trend for over a decade now…

How do you approach diversity and inclusion in the hiring process, and how do you ensure fair and unbiased recruitment?

This is a whole new ball game recruiting in South Africa… But I am a big advocate of DE&I practices, especially in the Talent Sourcing stage of Recruitment. I think we need to focus on building more diverse workforces as we know they are more productive, generate more income and are better places for people to work – in other words, for the right reasons!

How would you define a good candidate experience? What strategies do you use to offer one?

When your candidate is happy to re-enter a Recruitment process with you after being unsuccessful the first time, you know they had a good experience. This is what you want. An interview is a two-way street, and we need to get our Hiring Managers to understand that it’s a discussion as opposed to an interrogation.

Recommend us 3 books/TV shows/podcasts and let us know why you love them

  • The Full Stack Recruiter” by Jan Tegze is a go-to for any Recruiters and Sourcers wanting to get better, and faster, at finding Talent (btw, read Jan Tegze’s expert interview with Teamdash)
  • I love Hung Lee’s Recruiting Brainfood Podcast, as his topics of conversation are always relevant, and he has very interesting guests.
  • I also have a YouTube channel which I am always adding new Talent Sourcing Training videos, too – you can find it here.

How do you know when it’s time to take some time off to avoid burnout? How do you recharge?

I have just moved from the busy city of Johannesburg to the beautiful seaside town of Plettenberg Bay. If you Google “Plett”, you will see that I have kilometres of beach, mountain biking trails and wine farms to help me destress over a weekend! 🙂

What motivates you professionally?

The knowledge that I am helping other people to perform their jobs more efficiently and effectively, which, in turn, makes them more successful, gives me great joy.

On behalf of the team at Teamdash, thank you for an inspiring interview, Vanessa!

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Merilyn Uudmae


Content Marketing Manager

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