Where’s the Humanity? Finding Balance in Recruiting Technology

Robots won't replace recruiters—but they can make them better.
By: | December 11, 2018 • 4 min read

Recruiting was once a completely human-run function, helping create the perfect opportunity for automation and innovation. By most accounts, the first job boards and applicant tracking systems didn’t enter the picture until the ‘90s. That means in less than 25 years, recruiting moved from telephones, rolodexes and paper resumes to online, artificial intelligence and chatbots, which is no small feat.

Advertisement




In today’s world, sourcers source and recruiters might not enter the process until well after a talent prospect has turned into a viable candidate. Chatbots can interact early on throughout the process, serving as the initial point-of-contact and supporting character. Applicants can preview their status on their mobile devices, gaining unprecedented updates into their progress. Interviews take place via video instead of in a conference room real-time. You get the picture. But at the end of the day, the question remains—has recruiting technology made the process any less human?

Human vs. Machine

A challenging debate to say the least, especially with the ongoing innovation of artificial intelligence. At first, many recruiters and HR pros panicked, thinking that AI would replace them and leave thousands jobless. But even as additional steps in the process automate and improve—screening, matching, scheduling and more—the humans prevail. As with any argument, there are at least two sides to the story. On one side of the equation, there’s the belief that technology improves human ability, empowering hiring decisions through better data, evidence-based insights and predictive analytics. On the other, there are those who see recruiting technology as a way to offload previously manual tasks to an algorithm. The right answer cannot be determined, because recruiting remains as unique as every organization seeking to hire.

Across the Continuum

In the meantime, the industry waits and watches as a variety of automation and AI-based technologies impact the talent-acquisition spectrum. Again, the human element prevails, as it’s up to recruiters to learn how each operates, where it fits their strategy and what measurable results can be generated. Retaining control, recruiters can explore a whole realm of possibilities and help shape the future of the technology by identifying pain points and providing feedback to vendors. So, the score remains humans – 1, technology – 0.

Beyond the Highlight Reel

Of course, this isn’t to say that these technologies don’t support efficiencies and won’t make recruiters more effective in the long run. They certainly do, and will. But for now, ensuring humanity remains part of the process involves finding the right combination of machine-based and human-led decisions and processes that leverage the best of both worlds. Perhaps the best example of this is the ability to look beyond the highlight reel that candidates provide. While the machine can parse and select specific qualifications and desired characteristics, recruiters can better judge fit, enthusiasm and engagement.

Striking a Chord

From where it stands today, it seems likely that recruiting-technology innovation will transform certain kinds of work, such as screening. In recognizing and acknowledging this, recruiters can shift the narrative, placing additional focus on aspects of the process. Candidate experience, for instance, is a thread that runs throughout recruiting, enhanced by technology but reliant on frequent, high-touch communications and interactions with other humans. Similarly, engaging passive candidates, reconnecting with previous applicants and identifying internal moves may benefit from the aid of technology but need recruiters to complete the course.

Advertisement




As Shally Steckerl, founder and president of The Sourcing Institute, explained earlier this year, “Our job has much more humanity in it than a lot of other roles that have been very easily disintermediated by tech. We should leverage it better, but this is a job that is not ever going to be replaced by a robot or a machine.”

Learn more about the debate over humanity in recruiting during Recruiting Trends & Talent Tech LIVE! taking place February 20 through 22 in Las Vegas.