How the recruitment industry can take the next step towards AI adoption.

Matt Fischer, President & CTO at Bullhorn at Bullhorn.

Artificial intelligence (AI) software isn’t new, but it has certainly become more widespread than ever before. Now cheaper to make and develop, AI technology is an integral part of our everyday lives. This also means that it is easier than it has ever been for businesses to take advantage of AI in sectors such as finance, IT and HR, to name but a few.

This has kickstarted some worry that AI will take jobs away from humans. Outside of recruiting, there is evidence that AI will replace jobs that have a high physical labour component and jobs that are very predictable. As most recruiters know, this doesn’t seem anything like a threat to their own jobs. But there is also evidence that the parts of our jobs that are predictable and repetitious will get automated. That is where recruiters have to stay focused on making sure they are learning and applying new skills – like creating ongoing personalised outreach or building targeted, strong personal relationships – that cannot be easily automated vs. spending their time scheduling calls or posting jobs. 

It would take many more years for AI to get to a place where it could take over – instead, it is more commonly going to work alongside humans to help them do their jobs better and enabling them to focus on the more emotional and creative elements of a job.

Recruitment companies, in particular, have a lot to gain from AI – and some already are. So far, it is helping agencies automate admin-heavy tasks such as data management, CV screening, and routine candidate communications, saving recruiters’ time and allowing them to focus on the more fundamental part of their job – interacting with other people. But AI can do so much more than just tighten up laborious processes. Here are the ways that recruitment companies could benefit from AI – if they invest time and money into it.


How AI can be used in recruitment

While AI adoption levels are still low across the industry, the number of recruiters beginning to see the potential benefits is increasing. According to Bullhorn’s Global Recruitment Insights and Data, embracing automation and AI as part of a digital transformation strategy is the top priority for nearly a third (31 per cent) of recruitment businesses this year. In addition, over half (52 per cent) think that AI will have a positive impact on candidate and customer engagement. 

The respondents are right – AI should be a priority and it certainly does have a positive impact. In fact, AI has many different benefits for recruiters, including:

  • Candidate insights: AI can give insights that help recruiters reach quality candidates, with pointers on where to post jobs, the average number of candidates needed for a certain role and the most common characteristics of a typically suitable candidate. Candidate outreach can also be personalised with candidate-centric messaging. Not only does this make it easier for recruiters to source the right people for the job, more time can be spent on higher value tasks. 
  • Process intelligence: AI can also help recruiters by providing them with better ways of working. For example, it can create an application management system by automating processes such as screening, invoicing and billing. This helps to get candidates into the system quicker, so they can be put forward for jobs quickly, while also reducing data re-entry and errors.
  • Real-time responses: AI can also give recruiters and salespeople nudges and alerts in real-time. For example, systems can give examples of the most common screening questions for a certain role or send nudges such as “Remember to get in contact with this particular candidate or prospective client.” This gives recruiters the gift of time and makes sure they’re making the most of relevant insights. 
  • Mitigating bias: Many recruitment processes have shortcomings and unconscious bias baked right in. While AI cannot be a cure-all for these problems, recruiters can monitor the algorithms and tune them to ensure these biases are not perpetuated. 

What you will notice with all these benefits is that AI is not replacing the recruiters. Instead, it is assisting them and helping them do their jobs better. The future of recruitment lies somewhere in the middle of reliance on AI and recruiters – AI will be able to do a lot of the leg work in finding candidates, putting them on the books, and alerting recruiters to their suitability for a role, but the process will still need the human touch.


What AI cannot do

Of course, AI does come with its own limitations. It can do a lot to help us, but there are still some gaps that it can’t fill. For example, it can recognise patterns in data but it cannot necessarily tell us why they are happening. And it also isn’t immune to error. There still needs to be someone on sight to look for mistakes, otherwise they can become pervasive in the data and other parts of the software, becoming tricky to correct, and resulting in misleading outcomes.

As a rule of thumb, AI works best when built to carry out a specific task. This means that it can do that particular task well, but it also means that it has to be designed for a narrow application. And, if it is relied on blindly, companies using these systems could lose sight of the bigger picture. For example, if more women are entering the software development industry, biases built into the algorithm could still turn up mostly male and traditional candidates.

The main point to remember about AI is that it is not infallible and still needs some sort of human oversight and control. We can tell AI systems what information to look for and how to analyse it, but we still get to decide when and how to apply the results of its work.


Will AI play a big role in recruitment?

There is no doubt that AI will play a big role in making the recruitment process significantly more effective, making the lives of recruiters much easier, while also enabling them to provide added value to their clients. But it is also up to recruiters to make sure that they embrace it, point out and correct errors early and use it as a tool to create a more efficient process. Ultimately, this can make them more valuable to clients, more responsive to candidates and happier in their jobs.

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