Robots vs Recruiters: AI and the Future of Talent Acquisition

As technology advances, many in our industry wonder whether or not artificial intelligence (AI) will replace recruiters or, at the very least, how it will impact what we do and how we do it.

Is the death of the recruiter finally here? 

Our sold out and much anticipated #NextGenTA MeetUp on June 8th covered this topic thoroughly through a panel discussion and audience questions. We wanted to ask some of the industry’s best and brightest where they thought AI would take us and what kinds of obstacles and opportunities might be presented along the way.  

At the MaRS Discovery District, we sat down with Kevin Grossman, President of Global Programs, Talent Board, Victoria Reynolds, Head of Talent Acquisition at Capital One, Chris Brown, Director of Talent Solutions, Canada at LinkedIn and Sara Cooper, Talent Director at Omers Ventures. Here are just some of the highlights from our conversation and insights these talent leaders provided to the packed house at MaRS: 

Q: Is AI the death of the recruiter?

Sara answered: “No, I read this 10 years ago and we’re still here. It will however transform HR and recruiting. A good recruiter uses tools to be better and faster. If a transactional recruiter is just posting jobs and waiting for applicants, then AI might be the death of that recruiter. If you believe in building relationships then AI will only help you be a better advisor and elevate your career.”

Q: Kevin, what are your thoughts on AI’s impact on recruiters and the candidate experience?

“Relax, the robots aren’t taking over. I came into the HR tech space in 1999. AI had a job matching algorithm, which was solid technology at the time. I haven’t seen a lot of change until very recently. Like Sara said, AI helps empower recruitment. Where we will likely see the most impact (and potential job loss or restructuring) will be in sourcing and administrative tasks. Companies that win, will invest in leveraging new technology to drive efficiencies and provide better feedback loops through people.”

Q: Chris, what is AI and how is it being used today in recruitment?

It’s important to frame the different types. The term “artificial intelligence” is fairly generic. In recruitment, a lot of AI is heavily focused on matching and resume parsing. What we’re seeing now is a transition to more intelligent learning. For example, AI becomes very interesting regarding speech recognition. It’s working towards learning - using AI technology in a customer service chat bot, perhaps moving to interviewing, and face recognition. Sourcing, however, is where we might lose jobs. We can’t comprehend how fast it changes because it will almost certainly occur faster than humans can adapt to it.”

Q: Victoria, what are your thoughts? What happens if companies don’t adapt? 

“We need to find balance. We’re make progress using predictive analytics, using data to cut down on both the recruiter and candidate time. At Capital One, we’ve looked into chat bots for credit card customers - can we apply this to the recruiting experience? We’ve also looked at building an application for scheduling and aiding candidates in their preparation. We chose to build this in-house as our teams know culture and we believe that can’t be taught unless you’ve lived it.” 

Q: Sara, how has technology modified the role of the recruiter? Have we raised the bar to strategic thinking?

Recruiters don’t have the best reputation – you just have to read Linkedin to know that. They have to be better at adding value and being proactive and AI will allow them to do that. AI will separate the great recruiters from the rest because it will free them up to focus on strategic work. Recruiters who will survive are the ones who can meet the needs of the business not just today but six months or even years from now. If we are going to prep our business for our CEO stepping aside five years from now, we need to start building a pool of potential replacements today. Those relationships need to start today. That’s something that AI can’t do, at least not right now.

Q: Kevin, based on candidate experience benchmarks, where do recruiters win?

“The one thing we measure is the potential business impact of how candidates are treated. If candidates are treated fairly, communicated with, and given closure, 64% of the time they will apply again, refer others, and buy your stuff. 43% of candidates who have a bad experience will sever that relationship. This is significant for a consumer based business.” It comes down to respect for the candidates time, no amount of automation can fix that.

Sara jumped in on this one: “Always remember that declined candidates are future customers. We need to better predict with accuracy what we may need - perhaps AI will help us do a better job at workforce planning.”

Back to Kevin: “There is a speed aspect that AI can help with. Often candidates withdraw due to the length of the recruitment process.”

 

Q: Chris, what’s happening with LinkedIn right now when it comes to AI? What can we expect as it relates to Talent Solutions? 

“AI exists today on LinkedIn with features such as “jobs you are interested in” and “people you may know”. As engagement improves, AI does the heavy lifting to get you more value. LinkedIn Recruiter is still restricted to skills and keywords but it’s moving toward social cues like a LinkedIn user’s affinity to the company or brand, or intent. Our AI technology will celebrate what we do for both companies and candidates. AI will help us move from just finding people to real recruiting which goes beyond just finding people but to attracting and engaging those with the right skills and affinity to your brand.”

Q: Victoria, are we going to create bias through machine learning and AI?

“Humans are biased. Machine learning can highlight whether or not there is bias. The more technology we use to identify unconscious bias, the better off our recruitment processes will be. The robots might actually help.”

To gain the full Next Generation Talent Acquisition experience - awesome panelists and thought leaders, sponsor rewards and networking - keep an eye out for our next MeetUp announcement for September 19th! The topic: Diversity. Not a member? Join here.

Thanks again to our panelists!

Lastly, this event would not be possible without our awesome sponsors. Thank you to XRefIdealTalentMinded and ViziRecruiter for not JUST sponsoring the event but sending your awesome teams to join in on the fun and add value to the conversation. 

If you are interested in speaking, sponsoring or have a topic that you would like to see us tackle please contact Kim Benedict, kim@talentminded.ca.

Have a wonderful summer #NextGenTA friends - we’ll see you in September!