The process of job hunting can be arduous. While some sought-after job vacancies are never usually posted on the internet, the ones that are displayed can get lost between company websites, job boards and professional social media avenues. Moreover, sifting through multiple job postings is a cumbersome practice and finding the right position that fits one’s passions, experience and goals can be a herculean task for many.
The future of job hunting will rely heavily on artificial intelligence (AI), which can simplify the process in more ways than one. While industry strategies may differ, experts in the recruiting field agree that AI can help streamline the connection between employers and candidates. With the vast amounts of data collected on skill-sets, job titles and salaries, AI can help job boards like LinkedIn make accurate predictions on hiring competition and compensation. It can bring down research time for job-seekers dramatically and assist employers to find qualified candidates faster than ever before.
AI is dominating conversations across the entire talent acquisition spectrum. Even though AI, chatbots, natural language processing, machine learning, algorithms, auto matching have led to scaremongering, the HR and recruitment fraternity must applaud these evolutions and not fear them.
So, what exactly can AI do in the area of recruitment? It can provide recruiters with the opportunity to automate CV screening, schedule interviews and process high volumes of applications without spending precious hours in front of a computer screen. It reduces the administrative task and frees up recruiters to develop their client relationships and focus on the human touch, playing more of a talent advisory role. Companies such as HP and CNN are already integrating elementary AI into their workflows, mostly in the form of chatbots. With automation freeing them, recruiters are able to focus on those key areas where professional acumen has the biggest impact—the limited human capacity anyway stands in high contrast to the unbeatable speed and computing power of software. Recruitment processes have, in fact, nearly doubled for HR departments since 2010; one of the reasons is the machines are faster and more accurate.
With such transformations on the horizon, it is crucial for HR departments to prepare for a world of intelligent recruiting software—whether labelled “recruiter bots” or otherwise. It’s important to look at the bigger picture and not dismiss long-term opportunities based on early results. HR and talent acquisition practitioners must keep certain things in mind while implementing new-age AI systems into their recruitment workflow.
* Man versus bot: AI can’t be a good judge of a candidate, can it? It seems obvious, but with judgement comes bias, which is also part of the human repertoire. Companies that master unbiased hiring can mitigate this potential blow to their reputations—with recruiter bots lending a helping hand. When correctly tuned, recruiter bots can dispassionately indicate candidates who best match the role without biases, or the grumpiness of staffers who skip their morning lattes. Leaders who leverage this impartiality can give a leg up to qualified candidates who might otherwise struggle to get a foot in the door. With the ability to understand and react to complex information and patterns, recruiting bots of the future will be able to process more candidates, schedule more meetings, and review more CVs than any human possibly could.
* Human factor: The human factor, or the lack thereof, is a key topic when considering bots. Will companies become more impersonal with machines as part of their recruiting communications? Will that alienate candidates? It’s an understandable concern, but even AI experts say that “bots are better without conversation.” Often, the choice is between getting help from a machine or not getting help at all. Utilising AI in the recruitment process will provide more qualified leads, reach more people, and stay connected with candidates without any outside assistance. Some subtle judgements may be more challenging for bots, at least initially. For example, business is a team sport, so companies must hire for a cultural fit. But bots may need time to understand culture in an organisation and match candidates well.
* HR professionals can take on more strategic roles: As is the case with automation, AI will inevitably replace most elementary jobs in the future. Scheduling meetings, sorting through CVs, and sending email updates are all set to be automated. An employee retention AI system, for example, could screen the workforce and identify who is at a higher risk to leave, who is outperforming, and who should get special attention.
But what does this mean for HR departments and recruitment firms? If anything, it means an opportunity for evolution. As AI takes on the administrative work, HR professionals will be able to focus on larger goals, where they are really needed, such as employee engagement, team motivation, team building and other areas that harness performance and productivity.
Clearly, AI won’t completely eliminate the HR function, but will rather assist highly-skilled professionals to recruit the best talent and provide further leverage to an organisation, all in record time. Just like the rise of the smartphones and the end of the telephone, we will one day look back at the pre-bot era as a primitive period of the early 21st century.
Kunal Sen is MD, Korn Ferry Futurestep India