The True Meaning of AI and Its Impact on Talent Acquisition

Tim Sackett

In the talent acquisition industry, 2017 is going to go down as the year of Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is one of the single greatest buzzwords of the year, and yet most of us in TA are still shrugging our shoulders wondering, “What's the big deal?”

When I think of AI, I think of the movie “iRobot” with Will Smith. It was released over 10 years ago, but it seems like it could be released as this summer's big blockbuster and still do well. I want a "Sonny" (the main robot's name in the movie) who will help me cook gourmet dinners and do my laundry. 

Sonny is what 99 percent of people in the world think of when they think of AI, and it's one of the main reasons why so many of us struggle to understand what it means when we talk about AI and recruitment. Sonny was smart, it could think on its own, it seemed to have an understanding of emotion.

But Sonny is not recruitment AI. AI is really just a fancy term for another fancy, confusing term called machine learning. Machine learning means that software or computers have the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. So, in a way, the programs we are using to help us automate our recruiting process are learning on their own and getting smarter based on what they’re learning.

What Does This Mean for Organizations and Recruiters?
 Recruitment AI is just beginning to take shape, and most of the advantages that have been proven to work well are automation related. Take the mundane and simple tasks that eat up your recruiters’ daily capacity, and intelligence recruitment software can take over many of these functions. This saves your organization time and money and gives your recruiters the capacity to conduct more strategic tasks that the bots simply can't do.

AI can take 1,000s of applicants who applied to your jobs and, in seconds, deliver a list of the top-ranked candidates your recruiters should contact first for interviews. AI can also let the "B" level candidates know they weren’t the right fit for the job but there are other jobs that they’re better-suited for. It can also let those who are unqualified know they are not fit for the position.

This was put into action at SourceCon’s annual recruiter challenge. Top sourcing and recruiting pros competed against sourcing bots. They were given 3,000 resumes and each had to find the candidates hired for certain positions they were given job descriptions for. The No. 1 winner who came the closest to being correct was a human – and it took two days. No. 2 was a bot that took less than 30 seconds to come up with almost the exact same list. To me, the bot won!

AI can also reach out to potential candidates on your site who haven’t yet applied, but the bot sees they're looking at jobs on your site, and ask them to answer some questions. Or they may see the job seeker is coming to your site from a certain competitor and give them specific messaging around why employees from the competitor thrive at your organization.

AI can also warn you about which of your employees is most likely to leave your organization and how critical it is for you and your team managers to save them. Essentially, it can help you stop turnover, or at least give you a head start on saving your employees who are thinking about leaving.

What Do Recruiters Do Now?
TA leaders want to automate as much of their processes as they can, without impacting candidate experience, but then what do their recruiters do with that extra time?

AI is not taking over recruitment. AI, like all technical and automation improvements before it, will help recruiters move faster to close the best talent for your organization. When I started recruiting, I basically had access to paper resumes and a phone. I would kill it on the phone all day and night. When email became huge, I could easily contact 10 times the amount of candidates in the same amount of time, and my ability to find talent faster increased accordingly.

The top talent in any industry will still be hired by developing relationships. AI can't develop relationships. Real people – your recruiters – develop relationships. AI can help build pools of talent, but someone needs to have real conversations and make connections with those pools of talent. AI can tell you why one candidate is probably better than another based on a set of criteria, but AI can't tell you if that candidate will fit within the team and with the hiring manager.

Right now our recruiting teams are spending most of their week sourcing. AI can do most of that sourcing work, but it can't talk to candidates to find out what their true motivations are for changing jobs and wanting to come to your organization.

Real people, real connections, higher quality, and much faster. That is the role of AI in recruiting.

Tim Sackett, SPHR is the President of HRU Technical Resources a leading IT and Engineering Staffing firm headquartered in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of combined Executive HR and Talent Acquisition experience, working for Fortune 500 companies in healthcare, retail, dining and technology. Tim is a highly sought after national speaker on leadership, talent acquisition and HR execution. He also is a prolific writer in the HR and Talent space, writing for Fistful of Talent and his blog The Tim Sackett Project. Tim is married to a hall of fame wife. They have three sons and one dog. He is a lifelong workplace advocate for Diet Mt. Dew fountain machines and hugs.


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