Automation Won't Overtake Recruiters' Jobs -- It'll Help Promote Them
Far from taking your job, automation and artificial intelligence may actually help you become a better recruiter.
By Jonathan Novich
At Bullhorn's recent Engage conference, I participated in a panel titled "The Future of AI in Staffing -- Finding the Balance Between Bots and Humans." One of my co-panelists, staffing veteran Jay Brunetti, is a co-founder and managing partner of HireAlliance, where he's responsible for the management of the Staffing Industry Solutions and Corporate Recruiting Divisions, as well as the strategic direction of the company. He remarked on how often we keep hearing that jobs will go away due to automation.
"I underestimated the impact of the Internet on recruiting, so I'm not underestimating the power of automation and artificial intelligence on staffing," Brunetti said. But, although job boards replaced help-wanted ads and multi-posting software eliminated the busywork of copying and pasting, automation isn't going to overtake recruiting, he said. It's actually going to help recruiters by taking on non-value-added tasks such as screening, data entry and follow-up so they'll have more time to focus on what humans do best: develop and foster relationships. "And that will create even more opportunities in staffing."
The industry continues to grow. In the U.S., there are now about 20,000 staffing and recruiting companies -- up from an estimated 14,000 companies in 2006 that, in total, operate about 39,000 offices, according to the American Staffing Association.
The existential threat of automation, over the years, has turned out to be less a poison than a catalyst for growth. As previously mentioned, automation replaces low-level work and mundane responsibilities that recruiters would gladly delegate. With the work handed off, recruiters can spend their time and attention on their craft -- understanding people, forging relationships, finding the matches between people and the work that organizations need executed (and the teams people join). In essence, as more automation becomes available, recruiters move toward spending more time being people, rather than people impersonating machines.
In fact, today's automation technologies are so advanced that they can do much more than replace mind-numbing tasks: They're beginning to offer means to help juice recruiters -- to make them even better at what they do .
Lets explore a routine relationship-oriented task. There's a bit of an oxymoron when it comes to routine and relationship; however, it's worthwhile to note that even the administrative activities that recruiters engage in can help with relationship development. I recently interacted with a firm that sent me an email and provided a link so I could schedule my own appointment with them. When I clicked on different slots on their schedule, their website indicated whom I'd be speaking with. Each slot featured a different team member, without any contextual information other than a name. Click on 4 p.m., it's John Woods. Click on 5 p.m., it's Stephanie White. Candidly, while efficient, it was a bit off-putting. A combination of the self-service and lack of personal context detracted from my engagement with the firm in question.
The scheduling process is a grind. It's tempting to tell a candidate or a contact, "You pick." However, an alternate way to handle that work is to delegate it to an automation imbued with a human quality. X.ai offers a virtual assistant to handle scheduling. It's really simple -- you just CC your virtual assistant, and he or she (yes, you get to choose) coordinates directly with the individual to set up a time. The experience feels like it's a recruiter's administrative assistant (as if most recruiters have an assistant?!).
While x.ai continues the long-standing trend of automating low-value tasks, other automation technologies help recruiters to improve their craft. These technologies take advantage of public and social information. They leverage natural language processing technologies to make recruiters better at communication. One broadly available technology is grammarly. It checks your grammar on emails and prompts you to take action -- it focuses on the minutia so you can work on the relationship.
Another technology that can further enhances a recruiter's ability to develop relationships is Crystal Knows. This service analyzes public information and classifies your candidates and contacts using the DiSC personality assessment tool based on public information, including LinkedIn data and other social sources. Based on a DiSC profile, the technology advises you to tailor your tone and content to improve the potential outcomes. The impact of this type of technology is noteworthy. In the past, experience, experimentation, and mentoring could help recruiters hone their written communications to certain personality types. Today, automation and artificial intelligence can coach them even on their first day.
Innovation in automation and artificial intelligence continue to make recruiters more efficient and more effective, affording them the possibility of developing more high-quality relationships without burning out on busy work. That's a promotion any recruiter should take.
Jonathan Novich is vice president for product strategy of Bullhorn, which provides CRM and operations software for the staffing industry.