Talking to a colleague recently the subject turned to advances in HR technology and the conversation inevitably turned to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning and the huge changes this could bring to our industry.
“AI will surely never really replace a good resourcing manager?” my colleague suggested.
“I agree” I replied, “but is that really what it’s meant to do?” You see, I don’t think it is. At least not yet.
I’ve been working with websites and HR technology for nearly 20 years and whilst I wholeheartedly believe in using new technology and innovation to improve HR processes, personally I don’t think that there is currently a recruitment experience that’s better than spending time with the individual you’re going to potentially be working with. The current batch of AI and Machine learning tools used for HR are designed to support this, not replace it.
Let’s talk about the hot topic of driverless cars for a second. We’ve all heard about them, we’re all aware that they are ‘coming’ but few of us have thought about exactly why? The reason is quite simple. Driving, at least for most people, is a mundane and relatively pointless activity (other than for getting us from A to B) that takes up a lot of our valuable time.
So with driverless cars, we’ll soon (hopefully) all be able to travel in comfort with the flexibility of our own transport that’s always ready to take us where we want to go and, who knows, it may even be safer than a driver who’s tired, irritated by the car in front drifting between lanes or who’s been held up by every, single traffic light. AI in this context is about removing the monotonous activity, giving us the chance to use that valuable time and dare I say it, also potentially perform the activity better than a human can. I think this is exactly how we should view AI in HR.
You see, these new technologies are about removing some of the dull, more tedious elements in the process of hiring someone and do it better, so that recruiters can focus on ensuring that they take the time to speak to candidates, understand their needs better, build relationships and add real value to the candidate experience.
There are essentially three ways that AI can currently be introduced into the recruitment process and all are designed to augment it, cutting down administrative, repetitive tasks and increase productivity, freeing up time for more high-touch activity with candidates.
First, AI technology can be used for sourcing candidates, using an intelligent search to unearth passive candidates for a role by tracking down the best candidates based on their digital footprint. This could be using anything from their social media profiles, their work portfolios, memberships of professional bodies and interest groups, social media groups and so on. It’s about AI doing the ’search’ leg-work, widening the potential pool of candidates to review and reduce the time it takes to find those matching your criteria.
Second, using AI for screening candidate CV’s. This is often one of the most labour intensive, exhausting and frustrating tasks, particularly for high volume roles in areas like apprentices, graduates, retail or customer services. Using AI to intelligently filter CV’s based on the role criteria clearly makes sense, but when you add in the fact that the AI could ‘learn’ from your successful past hires, from publicly available sources of information like social media profiles, online activity, interest groups and so on to identify exactly what a ‘good’ candidate looks like, this could be an area that’s significantly improved with the technology. Introducing AI here could potentially save mountains of sifting time and, at the same time, remove any unconscious bias from screening and increase the quality and success of selected candidates.
Finally, there’s the opportunity of using AI for Candidate Matching. Any recruiter who uses their ATS to ‘talent pool’ could benefit hugely from this with AI finding the strongest candidates from within the pool and matching them against the specific role criteria at the touch of a button. Numerous areas could be matched including a candidate’s skill set, salary preferences, test scores or personality traits. And the opportunity doesn’t end there. Imagine being able to have AI look for your next potential senior hire by looking at all your current employees, their online profiles and aspirations and so on and you can see that the opportunities for managing succession planning and talent development by implementing AI is also quite exciting.
So, rather than fearing that this new technology might mean it’s time to find a new role, HR and Resourcing teams should embrace it, as not only is it likely to allow them to have more time to do what they’re best at i.e. making meaningful contact with candidates, but it’ll also potentially mean they have wider, more suitable and better screened candidates to bring into their organisations.
Scott McGougan - Client Services Director