Artificial Intelligence in Talent Acquisition: Boogeyman or Batman?

Debra Auerbach

People tend to fear things they don’t know. With just 12% of HR professionals strongly agreeing in 2019 that they’re knowledgeable about enhancing talent acquisition with AI, it’s no surprise that AI is a common cause of concern for recruiters.

According to an study in partnership with CareerBuilder, recruiters cite loss of the human factor and the potential for unintended discrimination as possible negative impacts to using AI in recruiting. They also face barriers to adoption, such as not enough budget to invest in those technologies, lack of current training and skepticism that AI can make a difference in recruitment.

Yet, is AI really something that should keep recruiters up at night? Or is it instead something that should be embraced?

While the answer isn’t so black and white, AI in talent acquisition is here to stay, and will only grow in importance in the coming years. In fact, over a third of HR professionals say they expect high utilization of AI in just two years. And while it may change the workforce and the way recruiters work – with the ability to speed up time-to-hire and taking repetitive tasks off of recruiters’ plates –  it’s more likely to make recruiters’ lives easier than anything else.

AI and its impact on job roles

To understand how AI will affect talent acquisition, it’s first important to understand how it will change the workforce. What types of jobs will TA professionals be recruiting for in the future?

According to research by McKinsey, AI will lead to new occupations we haven’t yet imagined, which could account for 10% of all jobs created by 2030. And while a report by World Bank Group notes technology may destroy low-paying, lower-skilled jobs, it will also create new jobs demanding more skills, and for higher pay.

AI and its impact on candidate sourcing

If jobs are evolving, so too must the way we recruit for them. When asked what the future impact of AI in talent acquisition will be in the next two years, 73% of our study respondents said it will increase the speed of recruitment.

More specifically, 37% believe that within two years, AI will be used to a high extent to target candidate searches using job criteria. As HR technology becomes more sophisticated, it’s able to use deep machine learning to ultimately help recruiters find better candidates faster.

Twenty-eight percent of participants also say that within two years, AI will be used to a high extent to automatically engage with potential job candidates via chatbots and messaging platforms. As these communication methods become more advanced, they’ll be able to replace more human labor in the initial stages of the sourcing process, so HR professionals will spend more time building relationships with the best matches to help ensure they make the right hire.

AI and the human touch

In the same vein, the study also found that 53% of respondents think AI will raise productivity of the HR function in the next two years, and 47% say it will lower cost per hire. All of this means that AI will create more efficient HR teams with the ability to hire better candidates at a faster pace using fewer resources. That would free HR professionals from doing the more mundane recruiting tasks, such as data entry, allowing them instead to spend more face-to-face time with candidates and new hires and invest in their development. So employees win as well, with better new-hire experiences that would lead to increased retention – and ultimately better business outcomes.

The overall takeaway is that yes, AI will change talent acquisition. And change can be scary, but when used in conjunction with (and not in place of) what human skill brings to recruiting, it can positively impact the way businesses hire and operate. As one Harvard Business Review study of 1,500 companies discovered, “Firms achieve the most significant performance improvements when humans and machines work together.”


Want to know more about how technology can help you recruit faster? Check out our guide on How to Create a Winning Recruitment Strategy


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