Recruiting

How will smarter machines affect the HR industry?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will change the field and future of human recruitment forever. Recruitment is a prime candidate for automation through AI and machine learning, but what does this mean for human recruiters?

If you are sitting at a desk, calling clients and browsing LinkedIn for contacts, stop for a second and ask: could an algorithm find better candidates than me?

The answer, in some cases, is yes. Believe it or not, you’re already interacting with AI – when you use your smartphone, go on Facebook or browse your Netflix recommendations. These interactive processes are determined by what you ‘like’ are based upon what you’ve approved already. There are no human agents curating or acting as a conduit between you and their services.

Brave new world

With the advent of smart technology, the prospect of robots taking over human jobs is no longer confined to science fiction movies. According to the Boston Consulting Group, an estimated 25% of jobs will be replaced by robots by 2025, while an Oxford University study proposes that 35% of UK jobs are potentially at risk of automation in the next 20 years.

Early adopters rule

Many existing client roles will be entirely replaced, whilst others may have humans and robots paired together to enjoy the benefit of technological change. Contractors and temporary workers working in customer service, manual labour and transport (roles predicated to be replaced by robots) may require humans to support and oversee the handover process.

Recruitment consultants who identify technological changes early are more likely to survive, as they’ll have a head start on their competitors in the robot talent rush.

Can the human in HR ever be replaced?

Automation is going to have a serious impact on not only client jobs, but staffing roles too, with AI bots taking over many of the recruiter’s duties. At present, matching candidates with roles is an essential component of any recruiter’s job, but machine learning algorithms have the potential to outperform humans in this area.

Fortunately for recruiters, many AI interfaces such as Siri don’t have the tactile understanding of real people’s needs to compete on a sophisticated level. When you ask Siri for information, it feels like you’re chatting to a machine – it’s a bloodless robotic experience.

But when you engage with a deep learning AI such as Amy, which is a more sophisticated version of Siri, then it feels less like a robotic transaction and more like a conversation. Amy’s algorithm has a greater understanding of human needs. It feels like we’re chatting to a real person.

As AI bots becomes more human, they’ll be able to search, source and match candidates more accurately and engage with clients directly too, thus putting many recruiters out of a job.

Time to change

In a fast-changing world, recruiters who refuse to adapt risk being left behind. Early adopters who embrace the benefits of new technology and delegate the less glamorous research tasks to algorithms should be less worried.

Emotional intelligence and creativity will be essential for any recruiter in our algorithm-shaped future. Meeting new people will remain one of the most socially rewarding things we can do — and this is exactly why recruiters will still have a role to play. Who knows what collaborations a coffee date could forge, or what ideas can be generated over a bottle of red?

In the future, computer algorithms will connect recruiters a bespoke selection of candidates who will need guidance and expertise in specialist sectors. This will be modern recruitment with a human focus, focusing on quality over quantity. Now that is a great way of working smarter, not harder.

About Jörgen Sundberg

Employer Brand Consultant, Speaker & Author. Host of The Employer Branding Podcast.

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