The Artificial Death of the Recruitment Industry

Founder & MD Chris Frost shares his insights on robot/AI recruiters vs human ones in an age of artificial intelligence and social media..

Recruitment Industry

Let’s fast forward a few years…..

I’m sitting in a self-driving Uber drinking my morning coffee. The recommendation for the coffee came via Facebook to Starbucks directly, which is also conveniently plugged into Uber so my coffee was ready when I arrived. Who’d have thought I’d like a Vanilla Double Shot Latte! Starbucks also passed me some medication, my Fitbit biochip (wearables were so 2020) knows I’m going to get sick next week and has prescribed some pills. Thank you Starbucks bot – you’re a gem! Your reminder of the predictability of humanity is disconcerting but your dispensing today was first class. I am giving you five stars on TripAdvisor later this morning.

So what became of the humble recruitment consultant who sat in the car?

Just like our daily lives, recruitment and HR tools are already affected by a wave of AI driven solutions designed to change the way we do things – and much better ones are coming soon. By the time we are all in self-driving cars the recruitment industry, as we know it, will not be the same. In fact, every industry will be “disrupted” with automation and decision making in the hands of machines.

I’ve written two blogs to look at the opportunity for robot/AI recruiters and human ones in an age of artificial intelligence and social media. Here’s the first.

It’s a fact and a sad reality that a segment of recruiters, both in agencies and in house, don’t work intelligently. This makes replacing their role in the recruitment process by AI  a straight forward process! If you are a recruiter that doesn’t understand the roles you work on, the companies employer brand, the size and availability of talent pools or the lateral moves and associated talent pools to look in, well then chances are you add no value to a recruitment process for a hiring manager. If your approach to sourcing candidates is to strip keywords from a brief, stick them into LinkedIn, fire off 100 random messages and forward anyone that replies to a hiring manager without meeting people, we’ll then you’re a prime candidate to be replaced by technology. The difference between AI and humans in the next 10 years will be gaining new insights and creative approaches to problem solving.

So what are the main current opportunities for AI in recruitment?

1.       Search and match algorithms driven by AI will soon be smart enough to identify candidates on social platforms and match them to a brief. Currently, the success rate is pretty average but in 3-5 years such tools will be more reliable.

2.       Marketing and automation platforms and programmes can handle ongoing communications with talent pools to keep talent pipelines filled. The success depends on how well qualified and segmented the target market is, and how much communication can be personalised. If badly executed, you’ll probably damage your employer brand in the process.

3.      Chat bots can be tasked with the initial approach of potential candidates. And who knows, perhaps an interview in the form of video call can be delivered by a chat bot recruiter. This might help screen candidates for the first cut in the process.

These are tools that companies can and will use themselves to identify people. But what if you can’t use them properly or perhaps no one has heard of (or wants to work for) your company? Also, guess what? Smart recruitment companies know how to deploy current available tools and develop their own ones. One possible future scenario might be that the recruitment company might evolve to become a recruitment technology company and perhaps a hybrid between AI and people, more on that in the next post.

For the record, I do think there will come a time that most low skilled, high volume jobs can be recruited with AI powered tools and chat bots. Although I fear that many of these jobs will have already disappeared by the time the tools run efficiently. However, the disappearance of entire categories of jobs caused by the utilisation of AI and the resulting unemployment of young and low skilled people is a topic better saved for another time.

But do the AI tools all combined replace the need for human recruiters or the recruitment industry itself? I don’t think so.

Now more than ever before the talent is the hero and companies need to attract and retain the best people to stay ahead. Social media and social recruiting has driven some interesting trends. Yes, you can find people on multiple platforms and aggregators of social platforms give recruiters a singular candidate view. But if your company is being slammed on Facebook or Glassdoor for having a bad culture/managers/compensation, then you’ll have to approach a lot of people because the public/social view of your employer brand will put a lot of people off. Perhaps your company is an industry that needs digital transformation but is viewed as traditional/old fashioned by the digital community. Maybe your company is an SME without the resources or needs for a full on, in house recruitment team, but trying to compete for top talent with heavily VC backed (ie better paying) and more attractive tech companies/brands.

Another truth is that the demand for people that can architect, design and deliver digital products and services will increase. With the related increase in sophistication of roles and working cultures, the availability of talent will continue to decline. There’s going to be a lot more data science roles out there. So parents with young kids, get them learning stats and code, they will then stand a chance of securing one of the few human jobs when they finish school;)

Right now, most of the traditional higher education available does not equip people with the required soft and hard skills to work in the connected age. This situation is validated by the growth of more independent professional training instructions such as General Assembly. The irrelevance of many topics taught, further fuels the gap in demand and supply of talent. The latest wave of self-directed online training platforms such as Udemy are a good antidote and create interesting opportunities for motivated learners looking to elevate their careers. We live in an age where knowledge is easy to come by but inference and insight are skills taught as an afterthought to facts and figures. The slow development in approaches to mainstream education, amplifies the lack of available employable talent in what has become a rapidly developing skills/job market. Shortages in talent affect companies chances of success as they cannot find or attract the people that are needed to help their business evolve.

I’ve outlined a few of the scenarios and reasons why human recruiters and the recruitment industry are more critical than ever.  So what is the opportunity for recruitment companies in an age of disruption? What will the human recruiters be doing in the future, where does the opportunity lie and how and why does the recruitment industry need to evolve?

Don’t miss the next instalment of this blog, keep connected to Chris on LinkedIn.

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