“Artificial Intelligence will kill off recruiters!” – C’mon lets be real about this…..

If you are engaged in either the worlds of recruitment or Big Data such as I am then you will be all too familiar with the articles that claim that AI is going to be what finally kills off the recruitment consultant. Daily I hear about new products who claim they are going to revolutionise the industry, how they will be able to replace those pesky and annoying consultants with intelligent machines that can automate their work providing a more efficient and cost-effective solution.

On first glance this may seem sensible, there is great evidence of successful projects being run by companies such as Unilever who utilised a couple of AI’s in a recent recruitment drive. One of the key benefits of using an AI to handle the recruitment process is claimed to be the removal of unconscious bias which is inherent in human decision-making. It’s claimed that an AI will be more objective and without prejudice, something that you can’t be confident of within human recruiters. “One reason why traditional recruitment processes are suboptimal is because of the human bias and subjectivity that reduces diversity and leads to suboptimal selection decisions” explains Juan Swartz, the co-founder of Pivotal Talent.

Many of the companies sell their software with exactly this in mind, however, they must also keep an eye on their algorithms as they too can become biased. “AI is like a child imitating its parents’ behaviour rather than doing what they say. It sucks in data, finds patterns and copies them. Although employers may say they want diversity, a recruitment program could instead follow the pattern of employers’ human systems.” (https://tinyurl.com/ycgasvt9)

In my view, the idea that AI will replace recruiters is a little naïve. One clear issue I see is that many of those who claim this fail to see the many different types of recruitment, whether through ignorance or misunderstanding, and assume that AI can automate all of a recruiters role without understanding what it may be. Maybe the best way to assess this is to look at different types of recruitment and evaluate the potential affect AI could have:

High Volume / Non-Skilled / Graduate Recruitment

Here I believe is where AI will be at its most efficient. Roles where you will expect a high-volume of applicants such as graduate schemes will greatly benefit from an AI playing a lead role in the recruitment process. The ability an AI has to filter through those who are suitable or not when it comes down to simple qualifications and keywords makes it much more efficient than a human having to look through 100+ CV’s. Of course, the one criteria which could be difficult to assess in this scenario would be a culture fit and personality, there may still need to be some human intervention here.

Skilled Workers / Mid to Senior Positions

In the current recruitment climate, those looking for skilled workers for mid to senior level positions which require a good mix of academic qualifications, a certain amount or type of work experience as well as a personality fit, the fight for talent can be brutal. To put it bluntly, due to a skills-shortage in most industries, the people who would be a great fit for these roles already have a job and aren’t necessarily actively looking for something new. While AI may be able to identify people who fit the profile better than ever, this is not where the problem lies for recruiters in this space. With the number of tools available to recruiters today we have no problem identifying enough people, the most important thing now is how to engage with these people.

The problems here are very different, the screening process does not involve filtering through a large volume of applications, rather it involves reaching out and engaging with people who are generally pretty happy in their job with much fewer applications. Conversational chatbots may be becoming more advanced and convincing than ever but are they able to emit the right emotional intelligence needed for these types of discussions, is it able to pick up on subtle cues and listen to a candidates touch points? Is this something unique to humans which can’t be replicated?

C-Level / Executive Search

When recruiting in this field, that emotional intelligence and strategic thinking are key. Many of these roles are filled via relationships, the qualifications needed are generally much more flexible and intangible. Additionally, the people in these roles do not get approached about a new job so often, due to their seniority. Meaning that the relationship is key.

So what does the future hold for AI in the recruitment field? This I believe is something that can be debated over and over again but with little conclusion. The rate in which new advancements are being developed with AI across so many industries is breath-taking, and I have no doubt that there are some incredible things on the horizon that will make a huge difference to the recruitment industry.

However, the key thing to remember is that instead of AI replacing recruiters, we have to think of AI becoming a tool in which recruiters must become skilled with in the future. Much like online job boards in the 90’s or LinkedIn in the 00’s new developments in the field of AI are not going to make human recruiters redundant. Rather, the very best recruiters in the field will adapt. They will utilise tools which can enhance the candidate journey and really make a difference to how they can engage with their talent pool.

Collaboration… that is the future of AI in recruitment.

Written by Andy Driver, Senior Consultant – Big Data Analytics

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