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The truth about AI recruitment: how safe are our jobs?

 

If you've read our two-part article series on Automation in the workplace, then you'll already be familiar with the benefits (and threats) that come with it. And while it's not quite as scary as cyborg Arnie hunting you down, AI does involve adaptation, redundancies and a wave of change to many sectors.

 

So if you work in recruitment, what will your job look like in 15 years? Will there even be a job to look at? Answers below …

 

Will AI affect the recruitment sector?

 

70% of HR managers believe the recruitment process would be more effective if it were more data-driven. Given that AI thrives at providing detailed feedback (on such a scale and accuracy humans cannot compete with), this is an ominous stat for recruiters.

 

But does this mean recruiters will be completely redundant?

 

It’s hard to say just yet, but here’s one thing: recruitment has been around a while, since the 1940s in fact. Back then, recruitment was used to fill workforce gaps that had been left by many going to war. Since then, the recruitment industry has experienced dramatic evolution - more so than many other sectors.

 

Why?

 

Well aside from recruitment’s obvious adaptations to technology (the birth of things like computers and applicant tracking systems), recruitment has to adapt to all of the new job roles that are provided by technology too. So when jobs like App Developers, Social Media Managers and Big Data Analysts were born just a few years ago, recruitment had to find new ways in which to engage with and source these people.

 

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Lack of of a human touch: would recruitment suffer from the cold service of robots?

 

The idea of technology doing anything other than assist recruitment might seem crazy. You just need to take a look at the stats to see that the recruitment sector has experienced incredible levels of growth over the past 10 years. In 2016 alone, 4,529 recruitment agencies started up. As of this year, the UK recruitment industry is worth £35.1 billion to our economy.

 

So do we really need to worry about it?

 

How automation could change recruitment

 

Just like most other sectors, recruitment will inevitably undergo some changes as the imminent wave of automation sweeps the country. But are these changes significant enough to cause worry for recruiters? Or are they actually beneficial to the recruitment process?

 

First of all, let’s take a look at how human and machine can work together in perfect harmony …

 

CV screening

 

In a recent interview with Personnel Today, Gareth Jones, who is the Head of Technology for HR consultancy The Chemist Group, discussed how AI will actually aid recruiters rather than abolish them:

Rather than having 10 people reviewing and evaluating CVs, it’s increasingly being put in the hands of screening tools, for example.

This both reduces cost and increases efficiency in the process.

 

“The thing people often forget is that if an applicant has a crappy experience trying to get a job, they’ll stop being a customer too. So process effectiveness has a huge return on investment.”

 

Such screening systems will allow recruiters to save lots of time sifting through candidates who have irrelevant or inapplicable skills (and according to Jim Roach, there are a lot of them), and allows more time to be invested in the right candidate and matching them with the perfect employer.

 

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‘Emotionless and poor at hitting targets’: a recruiter’s thoughts on the AI threat.

 

Personality matching

 

Another potential advantage to AI as a recruiting tool is its ability to personality match. When we say personality match though, we don’t mean culture match - this is a slightly different thing which we discuss further down.

 

Personality matching involves finding a candidate who has interests, hobbies and experience that aligns itself in a beneficial way to the company they are applying to. This is an important factor to take into account from a client’s perspective, as staff retention is crucial if they’re to save themselves from making a costly hire.

 

AI could mean interviewing more candidates, because employers were unable to distinguish between them well enough to begin with.

 

‘Software beware: the competition recruiters face’

 

Talify is a revolutionary new recruitment software that graduates can use to input their working skills and personality - which will then be matched up with relevant employers. It works differently to simply having a LinkedIn profile, in the sense that it doesn’t work purely off keywords. Michael Novack, the founder of Talify, explains that,

 

“Candidates complete one instrument, but embedded within it are multiple measures, including job interest, self-assessed skill, experience, and personality. The tests can also assess leadership qualities, empathy, problem solving, ability to work on a team, and entrepreneurship, among others.”

 

Snap.hr is a unique type of AI recruitment software that has gained traction in 2017. With companies like Tesco, JustGiving and TransferWise already using it, we managed to grab an exclusive interview with Snap.hr’s CEO and founder, Raoul Tawadey.

 

1. What motivated you to start up Snap.hr?

 

I was running another company and hiring developers and just found the process of finding good people so time consuming. Most platforms out there were solely for passive talent and recruiters would always push their own agenda instead of being candidate-centric. We thought if we could create an amazing candidate experience for active talent that could be big.

 

2. You predominantly operate in technology recruitment at the moment, what other sectors do you think Snap.hr could expand into?

 

We're only going to be focussing on tech-related roles for the foreseeable future - these could be developer roles but also, more broadly, roles in growth, digital marketing, UX/UI, data science and many others. We believe that in light of the digital transformation that's happening, demand for these roles is only increasing.

 

Efficiency: Snap.hr uses technology and developers to find companies talent.

 

3. What benefits does Snap.hr offer over using a recruiter (benefits to both client and candidate)?

 

On Snap.hr every developer on our platform has their own personal talent manager to attend their needs. Whether it's getting company feedback or helping in negotiations our talent managers are always on call to help.

 

Over 2,000 companies use Snap.hr - from Transferwise to Tesco - and so there's a good chance you'll get contacted by 5 or more companies within the first week that you're live. I think that's a great benefit for any candidate, as it means they know quickly who is interested in them, and the message is coming straight from the company (3rd party recruiters are banned).

 

4. What would you say to traditional companies, who have used recruiters for many years, in order to convince them to try out Snap.hr?

 

Snap lets you book interviews with the best developers in 48 hours, and you pay nothing upfront.

 

Eye opening stuff, right? Many people worry about the lack of connection, emotion and general human touch when it comes to machines and AI. As good as these new recruitment-based softwares may be, are they lacking something that humans have? And, if so, how important is it to the process?

 

But what about the human element in recruitment?

 

Below are two important things that could be lost if we were to use AI as a total replacement for recruiters. Have a read and see if you agree …

 

Loss of cultural assessment

 

Cultural assessment is a big part of the recruitment process for any position. Whether an apprentice or a senior manager, finding a candidate to fit with a company’s ethos and ongoing ‘vision’ (pardon the unavoidable jargon there) is important to staff retention and progression.

 

Cultural fit differs slightly to personality, as it involves adaptation to things such as:

 

  • The core beliefs of your organisation.

  • Behavioural traits of your organisation.

  • Attitudes and personnel of your organisation.

 

According to a 2005 survey about person-environment interaction, employees who have a better cultural fit with their company and coworkers had ‘greater job satisfaction, were more likely to stay, and showed higher productivity and job performance.’.

 

Whilst AI is currently very effective at completing statistics-driven tasks, something as human-led as culture can prove to be a problem. For want of better words, the ‘vibe’ or ‘feel’ of a place can only be effectively relayed from person to person.

 

Relying solely on current AI systems would undermine this, and could lead to poor cultural fit for candidates.

 

Sense of candidate detachment

 

If recruitment ever becomes solely reliant on automation, then there will likely become a greater sense of detachment between candidates and employers in the early part of the recruitment process. This is significant, as it is the early stages of the process that form first impressions.

 

The lack of communication between candidate/recruiter or recruiter/employer would mean finding a good match for a company could actually take longer. Ironic I know, considering the word ‘efficiency’ is always being bandied about when it comes to AI.

 

But think about it …

 

Automating this part of the process means that employers get nothing in the way of human conversation - potentially until the interview process. This could mean that employers actually end up interviewing more candidates because they were unable to distinguish between them to begin with. For all of their efficiencies, AI systems can turn people into soulless stats - something no employer wants in their staff.

 

Conclusion

Like most industries, it’s difficult to say exactly how AI will affect recruitment in 10 - 20 years. All that we know is it’s coming and it will play a role in various parts of our lives. Whether that excites you or terrifies you depends on your job. The BBC ‘will a robot take your job?’ tool is a great way to see how threatened your occupation is by automation.

 

But remember, humans invented robots, so they can never be better than us … can they?

 

To finish with some words from Rebecca Mossman, HR Director at Innovation Group:

 

“Software will free people up to do more talent planning, but it’s never going to understand culture or see if a person fits into that culture. You need people to do that.”

 

Written by Jon Clarke

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