Recruiting Technology: Evolve or Die – Automation vs. AI

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Mar 7, 2017
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

The revolution to stay relevant

Evolve or die — that sounds harsh, right? Do you think Blockbuster thought they’d be utterly irrelevant after 25 years of being the most popular video rental provider in the world? What about bookstores? Newspapers? Travel agents? The music industry?

What changed? Technology did. A smarter, easier, more accessible version became available and matured quickly. Companies, within those industries that didn’t evolve died.

We’re living in an age of disruption. Our world is always getting smarter, bringing new and improved technology to the table that is altering industries and enhancing our potential.

Just as smart cars are roaming our streets, Siri is googling our latest questions, and Alexa is playing our favorite music. Artificial intelligence has made its debut in talent acquisition, bringing us a whole new world of recruiting, a world where what was once “the norm” is now being automated to create a smarter and more impactful experience.

I recently ran across an article titled, “Why Automated Sourcing Sucks.” As I first started skimming the text, I was a little uneasy. Then, I realized the real gap. Many people view automation and artificial intelligence as synchronous beings in recruiting. They’re not. Newsflash: automation does not equal AI.


AI — all day, every day

Take your daily life, for example.

When you go through a self-checkout at the grocery, your process is automated, just allowing you to speed up the task. When you are given recommended items in your online shopping experience, that’s artificial intelligence at work. The process is not only automated but is creating a more impactful experience for you.

In the case of talent acquisition, when recruiters are sourcing candidates for automation, they’re just performing repetitive functions, faster. When artificial intelligence is brought into the mix, it’s working on the back end to make the entire experience “smarter” and, inherently, more impactful. The technology is analyzing big data, learning from known inputs, and getting smarter over time.

Automated recruiting is often most beneficial for selecting candidates who are good at using all the right buzzwords rather than zeroing in on the right people for the job. AI learns from your recruiters and sourcers, recognizes patterns and hiring trends, and evolves to make smarter decisions with a broad pool of data, digging deeper to find the candidates with the best mix of hard skills, soft skills, experience, and culture fit.

The tasks that are impossible to attain by humans are being completed by machines.

While automation is just structured by a “rules-based engine,” AI analyzes the most relevant data for your company.

For example, AI will compare millions of companies, candidate profiles, and all of the “unstructured data” that is available on the web. AI will analyze different companies and the people in the jobs you’re currently trying to fill, recognizing the top skills, position titles, years of professional experience, etc. to learn what makes a successful candidate. AI will present you the data that is most relevant to your needs.

When you’ve decided you know everything about AI, think again.

The Director of Engineering for Applied Machine Learning at Facebook, Joaquin Candela, stated, “Facebook today cannot exist without AI. Every time you use Facebook or Instagram or Messenger, you may not realize it, but your experiences are being powered by AI.”

How often do we use Facebook? Probably, every day. That means, we’re using AI, every day, whether we know it or not. It’s constantly at work “behind the scenes” of our daily lives. We’re not relying on automation to suggest friend requests, identify faces in images, or provide a native translation of content, that’s all AI.

So, there’s no reason to run, hide, or ignore the impact of AI — because chances are, you’ve already adjusted to using it in your everyday life. Now, it’s just time to embrace it in talent acquisition.

Remember, disruption is not always negative. Take Google Maps, for example. The application utilizes big data and machine learning algorithms to analyze your driving behaviors and patterns — redirecting you to take more efficient routes. Was the goal to replace paper maps and make printing companies irrelevant? Absolutely not. The mission of Google Maps is to make drivers more knowledgeable and efficient, improving their everyday lives.

Self-driving cars are disrupting the auto industry, using machine learning algorithms to understand driver behavior and consistently learn how to respond to different situations. The mission of self-driving cars is to create safer and more efficient travel, improving our quality of life, not to make people irrelevant.

These aren’t just convenient automation that has added value to these industries; they are DISRUPTORS. They have completely and irrevocably changed the faces of these industries forever. And guess what? We’ve all adjusted. Because they’re not just adding value, they’re making a smarter and more efficient industry, enabling them to make a greater impact on society.

I could list about 2,000 more industries that have been affected, for the better, by AI. I could also list about 20,000 companies that are now irrelevant because they didn’t embrace the inevitable shift in their industry.


The goal of AI in Talent Acquisition

Geoff Harris, COO and Co-Founder of JabaTalks, states, “The goal of AI in Talent Acquisition is to invite objectivity into a previously subjective process, while simultaneously increasing the speed of screening candidates, minimizing human bias, and helping assess soft skills more precisely.”

The disruption enables recruiters to impact and improve the lives of candidates and the growth of companies, adding value to an industry that desperately needs a makeover.

VP of Talent Acquisition at Intuit, Nick Mailey, contends, “Resistance to innovation that transforms traditional practices is a real challenge, and talent leaders already understand that AI innovations can make their organizations more valuable. We’re bullish on the idea that it can be your dream assistant that helps prioritize your work.”

Reality check: there are always going to be doubts, fears, and disagreements when it comes to a new process/new way of thinking. There may be shortcomings, hiccups, and limitations along the way, but that’s no reason not to explore its roadmap.

If you would’ve asked me ten years ago if I wanted to replace my iPod, alarm clock, atlas, instant messenger account, or desktop computer with one large cell phone that barely fits in my pocket, I would’ve thought you were crazy. Guess what? Now, I can’t imagine life without it. It has made my day-to-day easier, more efficient, and more impactful. My resistance to change was far outweighed by the altering effects that make me smarter and more productive.

There’s always going to be work to do in AI, a human intervention that’s needed. That’s no reason not to commit to its current impact and future initiatives. It’s not going to be perfect, but that’s not the point. It’s currently making a drastic difference in talent acquisition, and in every industry, it touches, that’s something to get on board with and something you HAVE to evolve with. Once it’s perfected, where will you be? Already aboard the train or standing where you’ve always been?

The bottom line is, companies are sitting on gold mines of data that can streamline recruiting. AI allows them to run deeper searches, screen more candidates, and make quicker smarter decisions. They can use intelligence to discover and strive for more. As they embrace artificial intelligence, they become experts in emotional intelligence, putting them one step ahead of the competition.

For example, it’s typical to depend on keywords in our searches, but AI looks into aspects beyond keywords — creating a holistic approach to recruiting. When a candidate works in a certain industry or company, AI recognizes their job functions and gains deeper intel. That means you don’t need a “smart search” technique or a list of keywords at your fingertips before you source, AI does it all for you. Feeling confident that your searches are as intelligent as they can be, you can redirect your focus to networking, building relationships, and refining the pipeline.

Lou Adler, CEO of the Adler Group, contends that recruiting technology is about finding the best, rather than weeding out the weak — he calls it the “smartification” of recruiting. AI is being leveraged to make the entire recruiting experience more efficient.

FINALLY, the recruiting industry is getting smarter, using AI to make a recruiter more efficient and candidates highly satisfied. Maybe the next time I type, “recruiters are…” in my Google search, the answers below won’t be at the top of the list.

These search results alone reveal that there’s major work to be done in talent acquisition. It’s time to embrace AI as a game-changer that can redefine the reputation of recruiting.


Final Thoughts

Of course, automation can be beneficial to recruiting, saving recruiters time, money, and a lot of headaches, but the real value resides in artificial intelligence, enabling organizations to discover deeper intel and leverage the right data to create smarter recruiting processes, making a bigger impact on society as a whole.

Recruiters, be prepared to redefine your role. AI will bring a lot of changes to your day-to-day. It has not yet mastered emotional intelligence, that’s your job. Start making that your priority.

It’s time to start thinking about how to stay relevant in an age of disruption. Sorry to tell ya, disruption has already hit talent acquisition. Will you stand still and eventually die (yes, I said it) or will you be part of the revolution that evolves?

The choice is yours.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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