AI in 2024

Ann Swain, Global CEO APSCo on how recruiters can get back to being human.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) isn’t a new concept, but its role in recruitment is becoming more predominant. The sophistication of the tools being utilised is both impressive and daunting at the same time. But we simply can’t ignore the fact that the recruitment profession is behind the curve when it comes to AI adoption.

Meeting emerging demands

Our members are increasingly looking at what they need to implement to stay on top of growing demands from end-clients. The customers recruiters work with are more savvy to the power of technology and many are utilising AI in other parts of their business. For staffing firms, the ability to hold conversations around how they are using artificial intelligence, how it is powering their hiring solutions, and what value-add that brings to their clients will provide a significant competitive advantage into the New Year and beyond.

This growing demand is being recognised across the UK. Indeed, as we saw in the Autumn Statement, the current Government is clearly committed to improving our standing as a leading country in terms of AI development. Beyond the growth in AI skills hiring that this will bring, it is also likely to lead to the creation of new tools that recruiters will need to able to capitalise on. Getting to grips with what is available in the market now will mean staffing firms can be better prepared for future innovation, but it will require an investment both financially and in terms of resources.

Making more of data through AI

One particular area that our conversations with members and Trusted Partners suggests needs more immediate attention is data usage. The recruitment sector is sitting on a wealth of statistics that have significant potential to both boost business growth prospects for staffing firms and deliver more strategic, information-led hiring solutions for end-hirers. However, data can often be neglected, largely due to the administrative burden that sifting through this information requires. But that’s where AI has a crucial role to play for recruiters.

The right tool can go through the stored data to instantly generate information that recruiters need. This is, however, dependent on collating the right information in the appropriate format in the first place. If your CRM and ATS platforms are already recording specific skills, for example, AI tools can be used to not only quickly generate an immediate shortlist of applicants for a role, but perhaps more importantly, also be programmed to identify adjacent skills should there be a limited number of candidates to put forward.

The value of generative AI

As I’m sure most of you are well aware, there’s already a wealth of AI-driven tools on the market to tap into. ChatGPT is one of the more recent developments to hit the market. Indeed, at our recent marketing forum, a number of our members shared their views on how they are considering using this tool to produce content for consultants.

I’ve said before that writing is a skill that not everyone in recruitment possesses, but it is a key part of the role. ChatGPT can help generate copy that appeals to target demographics and has the potential to eliminate terminology that may impact diverse hiring (by removing masculine words, for example, that can limit the number of female applications for a job).

However, the quality of the content that is produced is dependent on both the information that is being inputted and the ability to review the end result. Generative AI tools like this shouldn’t be left to create content without some human intervention and verification.

Don’t fear the change, let it empower your people

As with any emerging technology innovation, it can be easy to allow fear of the unknown to hinder progress. But we don’t need recruiters to know the intricate details of how AI works, instead they need to be equipped with the right tools and enough knowledge to know what input is required from them to get the right results.

The role of recruiters has changed drastically over the course of recent years and AI will likely evolve it further. However, I believe that the key point to keep our focus on is the fact that AI will allow people to be better recruiters. Any technology that eliminates the burden of administrative tasks and frees up time for more meaningful human touchpoints should be embraced.

When we look back at hiring before the days of email, technology and mobile phones, success was driven by consultants getting in front of clients and candidates and building a rapport. That hasn’t changed, but now recruiters have better tools that can not only increase their visibility with prospects, but also gives them more time to nurture these relationships. Failing to capitalise on this just doesn’t make sense.

We are continuing to move into a more competitive recruitment market when business to business skills will be increasingly important for staffing firms. Having spent a number of years being candidate focused amid skills shortages, recruiters need to reinvigorate their client relationships, and that’s where AI can be really empowering.

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