3 predictions for recruitment and artificial intelligence

According to Bullhorn’s 2018 UK Recruitment Trends report, nearly half (48%) of UK recruitment agencies are looking to increase their levels of technological investment over the coming year, with a view to improving client and candidate engagement, and driving improvements in day-to-day operational efficiency.

The rise of artificial intelligence – in all its myriad forms – should theoretically help them achieve these objectives in the decades to come. Theory, of course, is often different from practice, so it’s worth examining the ways in which recruiters can relate to this technology.

>See also: Could robots take over in the HR department?

Automation will become more prevalent than ever before

When people talk about the rise of automation, two things tend to happen. The first is that they confuse it for AI – a related, but distinct phenomenon. The second is that they talk about it in the future tense.

The truth is that automation is already pretty much everywhere. Many tasks – especially those that are most routine and time-consuming – are already easily automated: sourcing candidates, replying to applicants, organising meetings, and most forms of data entry are handled by machines, rather than employees.

As for the near future, the lines between automation and AI may well blur. Automated functions will increasingly come to mimic human interactions, lightening the workload of the employee and the operational burden on the business.

>See also: Workplace automation: why businesses must keep a personal touch

For example, recruitment process outsourcing company Cielo has succeeded in scheduling 50,000 candidate phone screenings a month – simply by allowing candidates to self-schedule interviews on its network.

Machine learning will create better real-time insights

Machine learning is currently being used to optimise client and candidate interactions across a number of channels. By processing massive amounts of data and continually improving their knowledge, machine learning tools can provide sophisticated, real-time insights into behaviour and preferences.

From simple tasks such as determining the best time of day to contact a candidate (always better to contact a morning person in the morning, after all) to more complex applications such as analysing ‘placement probability’ based on historical interactions, machine learning holds the potential to transform the recruitment landscape. This may be especially important in light of potential skills shortages post-Brexit.

Soon, recruiters will use machine learning to automatically pull out a shortlist of the most suitable candidates, based on predetermined criteria for a role, from a large pool of individuals.

>See also: 8 in 10 businesses recruit for digital transformation

They will also be able to create front-end conversational experiences based on natural language processing (NLP) techniques. Don’t be surprised if NLP-enabled chatbots enable candidates to be onboarded – with all basic questions asked and accounted for – without ever having to speak to a recruiter – in the not so distant future.

Artificial intelligence will gain prominence – but it won’t replace recruiters

True artificial intelligence is some way off. For most industries, it remains a curiosity rather than a serious prospect. Recruitment is no different. Machines can’t yet independently and proactively mimic human intelligence and importantly in recruitment’s case – empathy.

Artificial intelligence’s role in recruitment will be to augment – rather than supplant – recruiters. Time spent on admin can be redirected towards client and candidate engagement, allowing the recruiter to nurture better, deeper relationships.

When AI eliminates the need for certain job roles, it will create opportunity in other areas: if truck drivers and payroll clerks become relegated to the past, new jobs will be created in technology and business services.

>See also: Digital in the enterprise

Using analytical tools, recruiters can identify macro-level trends relevant to candidates and clients – and on the individual level, an idea of their historical behaviour, their current preferences, and how to conduct future interactions.

The year ahead will be pivotal for the recruitment industry. How it responds to the rise of automation, machine learning, and AI will dictate its current and future prospects. There is clear opportunity to improve systems, processes, and relationships – recruiters need only seize it.


Sourced by Peter Linas, executive vice president, Corporate Development & International, Bullhorn

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...