Think AI will replace recruiters? Think again. It’s making them more powerful than ever as ambassadors, overseers, and protectors of their companies’ values.
For all the headlines it has managed to grab lately, artificial intelligence remains a bit of an enigma — and a somewhat alarming one at that. With reports that up to half of all the activities people are paid to do could potentially be automated, modern AI, machine learning, and robotics sometimes get a bad rap — and it’s easy to get concerned.
But for most careers, and recruiting in particular, the reality is much more subtle and much less daunting — perhaps even exciting. While AI has already proven to outdo its human counterparts in activities like pre-screening candidates’ CVs (and entire lives), it has simultaneously ushered in opportunities for recruiters to expand their role and the value they bring as a result. In an article for Forbes, recruitment expert (and upcoming ERE San Diego speaker) Caroline Stokes refers to their evolved position as a “human capital developer,” suggesting that modern recruiters must be coaches, data analysts, design thinkers, marketers, and storytellers. It sounds like a lot, but I think she’s right.
Beyond these evolved roles, recruiters will also take on more ownership of the recruiting experience, effectively being in charge of directing the future talent of their companies, and in turn, the future of the companies themselves. So here are three considerations for these unsung heroes in the AI era:
“Ambassadors” for Candidates and Hiring Managers
In an era defined by technological disruption and amidst a generally accepted talent shortage, bringing on the correctly qualified staff has become more important than ever — and it all starts with candidate experience. Despite the fact that more than eight in 10 executives label talent acquisition as important or very important in Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trendsreport, only 15 percent of those surveyed believe their companies meet the mark in cultivating and monitoring long-term relationships with potential future employees.
The authors of the Deloitte report write, “In today’s transparent digital world, a company’s employment brand must be both highly visible and highly attractive because candidates now often find the employer, not the reverse.”
Accordingly, given that AI has already showed promise in automating certain responsibilities (e.g., identifying the best people for the job), it has freed up recruiters’ time to make sure candidates feel engaged from the very beginning of the recruitment process and “‘pull’ candidates toward them.” This means that recruiters can, and must, take a more active role in managing the candidate experience, ensuring not only that they feel engaged in the process leading up to interviews, but that they actually want to start the onboarding processes once offers are extended.
However, leaving ‘the experience’ only in the candidate domain would also be missing the mark. Recruiters have to take a more active role with hiring managers and, as Stokes suggests, act more like a coach or trainer by constantly managing relationships with care. Having to work with hiring managers often means navigating difficult politics, absorbing their pressures aligned with the need to hire and being a sounding board and innovator to develop the right plans for finding and securing the best talent for a position.
Candidates and hiring managers, as human beings, want to interact and engage with other human beings. So while AI might automate certain processes for recruiters, it should actually create additional value and opportunity by allowing them to maximize the quality of the experience for candidates and hiring managers alike. In doing so, recruiters truly become ambassadors for not one, but both parties.
“Overseers” of the Application Process
The number of people involved in a hiring decision can be dizzying. If we take the whole process, there are often designated people for sourcing candidates, screening candidates, scheduling interviews, conducting interviews, deciding on the interviews, collecting feedback, offering or rejecting, onboarding, and new hire engagement. Although not each of these roles can be fully automated, most can be to a large degree without significantly impacting the necessary level of human interaction.
In fact, AI’s intervention in the traditional recruitment process can paradoxically leave more room for the human element. Just as every orchestra requires a conductor to perform at its best, with AI in the recruiting process, instead of focusing on finding people, recruiters can orchestrate everyone’s efforts toward actually hiring and engaging people.
With this new role, recruiters can watch the application experience from end to end, driving the right behaviors through people. In doing so, they have the ability to jump in when appropriate, and ensure everyone is operating with a high degree of empathy and emotional intelligence to create the necessary bond for a commitment to act — or in other words, for getting the ideal candidate to join.