AI in recruitment: the current state of play

Given the critical role of talent acquisition within the modern HR function, AI has found a natural home within recruitment. There are multiple, small steps in the recruitment process that are not only ripe for improvement and automation, but also yield critical data points that can be fed back into the system to accelerate return on investment.

This is the promise of ‘programmatic’ recruitment – the idea of optimising the efficiency of the recruiting process through technology. The injection of AI into this methodology provides four core benefits throughout these stages in recruitment:

  • It helps recruiters manage much higher volumes of candidates
  • It helps qualify said candidates more quickly
  • It yields time through the automation of repetitive tasks
  • A reduction in the cost of the recruitment process

For example, at the very outset of recruitment is the sourcing process, finding potential candidates for roles. To optimise the sourcing process, programmatic recruitment can use AI to continuously optimise performance of recruitment advertisements. Modern, cognitive systems learn from the data provided by candidates and this can then help reiterate and retarget advertisements.

What trends are driving tech recruitment in the UK and US?

In this Q&A with Bev White, CEO of Harvey Nash Group, we explore what trends are driving tech recruitment in the UK and US, and how Covid-19 is impacting senior tech recruitment. Read here

For example, our data management platform segments hundreds of thousands of candidate profiles and then puts only those ads that would be relevant for those profiles, in front of those candidates. Put another way, a candidate will not see a specific advertisement unless they are already a pretty good match. This saves huge amounts of time in the early qualification stages, and ensures that by the time candidates reach testing, a business can – reasonably – expect superior performance.

Of course, as with most systems, the more data, the better the accuracy. This explains why the US has taken such a lead, as approximately 50-60% of the recruitment sector in the States now uses programmatic technology, whereas in the UK, that figure is currently around 10%.

However, there is a rapidly growing community of early adopters. These are businesses drawn from various sectors, but typically all of enterprise size, with a consistently high demand for new talent. Names such as Amazon, Unilever and Grant Thornton all use the technology. From within our customer base, we have seen some businesses realise a 70% time gain, a 50% uplift in applications, a 60% improvement in qualified applications, and a 60% cost reduction.

ING Luxembourg launched a programmatic recruitment campaign with Golden Bees, resulting in “twice as many candidates than what we have with other tools”. Elsewhere, GoJobs was able to double the speed of CV sourcing and halve candidate acquisition costs. This makes a compelling business case for the use of AI in recruitment.

Typically, these companies approach AI and programmatic recruitment initially from a standpoint of improving cost-effectiveness and performance. Recruitment budgets are now so squeezed that the use of one budget via a programmatic technology that can dynamically allocate advertisements and activity across multiple sources, is critical in achieving maximum value.

Companies are also looking to exert greater control over their recruitment process, leading to a need for fast, granular, but agile data capture rather than relying on human-based reporting, which typically takes days.

Lastly, as diversity has become the heart of so many recruitment strategies, the ability of technology to remove conscious and subconscious human bias, ensuring the ‘blindness’ and fairness of recruitment processes has also increased the use of AI and programmatic strategies.

Lisa Woodley, Vice President, Customer Experience at NTT DATA Services, discusses how to promote diversity in tech

Ahead of the Women in IT Summit New York, Lisa Woodley, Vice President of Customer Experience at NTT DATA Services, spoke to Information Age about the significance of the event and the importance of promoting diversity. Read here

However, it is worth stating that AI will always be limited to a supplementary role, automating processes, and augmenting the skills of those leading recruitment and HR management.

But even within these confines, there is still also a lot of room for AI to grow within the recruitment function. One technology that has garnered a lot of attention is the chatbot. This has the promise of helping recruiters save time by having candidates answer a various range of questions with a chatbot in the initial stages of recruitment. The technology for this is far from perfect and needs refining, but there is undeniably a lot of potential.

AI will continue to make its presence felt across the HR function, but as these points show, it has already developed a strong base in recruitment and talent acquisition, improving the performance and capabilities if recruitment teams facing an incredibly uncertain future.

Written by Ravi Joshi, head of UK at Golden Bees

Editor's Choice

Editor's Choice consists of the best articles written by third parties and selected by our editors. You can contact us at timothy.adler at