AI in Recruitment: Help or Hindrance?

18 March 2021

It’s a hot topic in the world of recruitment. AI is meant to be taking over. According to research by LinkedIn, 76% of recruiters believe that artificial intelligence will have a significant impact on recruiting in the coming years. AI is already being used to automate the screening process, directly source candidates, track candidate behaviour and enhance their experience. It’s also been championed as a way to prioritise diversity in hiring. However, relying purely on technology to source candidates, particularly in a scaling business when every hire is crucial to business development, it could be more problematic than the recruitment press is leading us to believe.

Of course, AI saves time; it stops recruitment and HR teams from having to complete monotonous tasks, which means vacancies can be filled quickly at a lower cost. It means you’re seeing qualified candidates that fit your ideal brief. We cannot deny it has significant advantages and will revolutionise certain processes, including:

Creating better job descriptions

The quality of your job description directly impacts the quality of candidates. A well-written job description can ensure that you attract only qualified, relevant candidates. AI can help you formulate clear job descriptions tailored to different audiences and notifying keywords. It can help you to ensure that the right messages are being portrayed to candidates.

Better candidate experience

Candidate experience is a vital part of the recruitment process and could be the difference between talented people applying for roles with you and not. It all reflects on your employer brand. The automated technology AI brings makes it easy to make a strong candidate experience; you can keep in touch with candidates at all stages of the recruitment process. From chatbots who can guide you through the application process to eliminating glitches in the recruitment process and e even automating candidate communications, AI has many uses in the candidate experience. Shockingly, 75% of job seekers don’t hear back from employers after an interview, which can severely impact your employer brand. With AI and automation, you can ensure that you don’t fall guilty of this, and even if a candidate is unsuccessful, they still have a high opinion of you.

Reduced time and costs

It’s probably the most apparent advantage of AI in recruitment, but it’s an important one. Automating tasks can help you to hire as quickly as possible as well as reduce recruitment costs. By reducing the amount of time, your team spend looking through applications, screening candidates, and even scheduling interviews; you can hire quickly and with less cost. While implementing AI may be costly at first, it will save the need to hire more recruiters if your existing team become overwhelmed and will have long term return on investment.

Streamline your recruitment process

If your business hires in volume quite often, then the entire process should become like a well-oiled machine, you’re practised at this and know what you’re doing. AI can help to smooth out any kinks in your recruitment process by using data and automating processes. For example, you can monitor your digital campaigns and other recruitment marketing, using data and learnings from previous campaigns to improve performance next time. Machine learning and use of a recruitment data funnel can help with this. AI can also help you pipeline candidates that weren’t successful on the first application, helping you build a talent pool for future hires.

However, there are also some disadvantages to using AI for recruitment.

AI also means you’re missing out on any candidates that don’t entirely match up to a designated criterion. Candidates who could bring something unexpected to your business, including skills, differing opinions or experience in other industries. Sure, these candidates may not always be what you envisioned for the role you’re recruiting for but, sometimes that’s a good thing.

The perfect candidate does not exist anymore, especially when recruiting complex and demanding tech roles as competition for these individuals is growing by the day. There’s been a shift in the way we work, and how we expect to work and therefore, we must acknowledge a change in how we expect to recruit. Instead of drilling candidates down to data points, we should be prioritising human conversations and understanding. It’s easy in the world of technology and automations to forget about a more personal aspect of recruitment. Still, after a year dominated by virtual meetings, remote work and less human interaction, perhaps it’s something we should prioritise.

The human aspect

With algorithms, automations and machines, there is no room for sensitivity, which after such an unsettling 12 months, the recruitment landscape could benefit from. As recruitment professionals, we have to take into consideration personal circumstances, now more than ever. Algorithms may reject candidates based on a gap in their CV, but in reality, there are likely to be lots of resumes with time between jobs after a global pandemic. Perhaps they were made redundant, had to take time off work to home school children or care for a loved one or even had to take some time away for their own health; you won’t know this without having a conversation. Remember, you can’t automate the process of building a relationship and a connection with a candidate, and this is a crucial element of the hiring process.

Reskilling

There’s also the issue of candidates who have chosen to reskill. The last 12 months have seen an enormous shift in which skills are most desirable and crucial for business survival, savvy candidates have noted that to progress further or form a long-lasting career reskilling or upskilling could be the only solution. We’ve seen some roles become redundant thanks to AI or changes in behaviour and candidates can see this. Now, candidates of all ages, experiences and backgrounds realise the importance of tech and digital skills in the future of work and many have decided to change career path to master these skills before it’s too late.

However, this means that there will be an abundance of older candidates who have previously worked in senior roles looking for work in more junior or entry-level positions. If you rely on AI, the algorithm could completely write off these candidates, assuming they’re too expensive, too old or even that their experience lies elsewhere. This is why conversations are vital. If candidates are willing to take a risk and recertify, often changing career direction completely, companies need to be willing to take a risk too. Chances are, if they’ve taken such drastic measures they’ll be just as serious about a future, just as dedicated and just as willing to stay with you long-term as a new graduate. Again, it comes down to having a conversation and giving these non-typical candidates a chance to explain their situations.

Flexible working

Employees in a whole range of industries have had their eyes opened to the world of flexible working. Some companies who have never considered remote employees or a more flexible approach to the working day will have to come to expect that this is what today’s candidates want. Plus, when competition for tech talent is growing ever more fierce, scaling tech businesses may have to look a little further afield or be a little more flexible to attract the skills and talented people they need. Ideally, candidates may work 9 -5 in the office and have all of the technical skills and experience you need. However, the reality is, with such tight rivalry finding these skills may mean hiring someone who lives too far away to commute every day, who has childcare responsibilities or even has slightly less experience. These are all candidates that an algorithm could reject upon application as they don’t meet your exact criteria. Yet, they could enable you to recruit faster and ensure the vital skills you need are within the business even if they have to work remotely.

Therefore, whilst AI has many uses in the recruitment landscape, it should never wholly replace the recruiter’s role. When hiring people, human connection, conversation, and understanding are often more important than speeding up the process and tech reliance. Employers who ignore the human elements of recruitment are likely to face high turnover, higher recruitment costs or miss out on exceptional candidates who don’t quite fit the bill. Both elements can work together to create a smooth and innovative recruitment process, but technology should never completely take over from the recruiter.

Talent Works are an RPO provider based in Manchester, Northampton and Boston. Our flexible approach to RPO allows businesses from startups, scaleups and beyond to access the most innovative talent acquisition strategies and flex them to their needs. Our experts in sourcing, employer branding, and digital recruitment marketing campaigns can attract talent that meets urgent demand or fill complex, senior tech roles. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

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