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AI’s Impact on Recruitment? Yeah, Nah.

AI’s Impact on Recruitment? Yeah, Nah.
Recruitment is an industry propelled by change, and one of the latest developments that’s causing a stir is automation through Artificial Intelligence. Touted as the answer to the struggle of time-pressed recruiters to keep up with their ever-growing workload, AI is anticipated to revolutionise the hiring process. However, interesting though it may be, AI in recruitment is not the be-all and end-all solution that its proponents are mooting it as – and it’s certainly not a replacement for quality recruitment consultants. Here’s why.

AI Only Measures Data, It Can’t Measure Qualities

There is no doubt that AI has the potential to change the way recruitment works, cutting down involvement on otherwise time-consuming aspects of a recruiter’s job. As any recruiter will tell you, manually sourcing and screening talent is one of the most laborious tasks they must undertake, and many welcome the automation of such a high-volume job. Yet, I would argue that AI is largely over-hyped in terms of the real benefits it can bring to the recruitment process and should be adopted with extreme caution.

Whilst the technology will likely continue to evolve and improve in its effectiveness, there is a fundamental flaw in the way it works: it can pattern match behaviour, but it cannot understand it. Consider the various ways that people might describe the same job vacancy or phrase their CV. AI may be good at analysing data, but it is not capable of understanding what lies underneath, and therefore cannot account for idiosyncrasies, hidden meanings and motivations that might be disguising quality talent. Consequently, it will fail to identify people who may not look right on paper but will be outstanding for the role in practice.

No One Has Programmed a Computer Yet to Understand “What Looks Wrong is Right” in a Candidate

AI is also unable to recognise potential in candidates, which can mean the difference between an individual that merely fits the job requirements and someone who is going to continue to grow and add value to an organisation in the long term. AI can never replace a good recruiter because of their ability to analyse the marketplace, appreciate brands and what they stand for, and understand the unique needs of the job seeker. Recruiters will work through all these factors with a candidate and place them on the right path to progress their future career – something that AI will never be able to replicate.

Chatbots Aren’t Career Makers, But Recruiters Are

Another misconception about the advantages of AI is can be seen in the use of chatbots in the applications process. While they are intended to improve the candidate experience by making the process easier and more interactive, it often has the opposite effect, with many candidates finding chatbots to be impersonal and irrelevant. The problem is that chatbots are often a lot more artificial than they are intelligent and cannot compete with the empathy and critical thinking of a human being. The recent backlash to Telstra's "Codi" chatbot is just the latest in a long line of customer service solutions that fail to service customers.

I believe that the human element will never disappear in the recruitment industry. Past disruptors such as job boards and LinkedIn didn’t kill off recruiters; if anything they became tools that augmented, not replaced, their existing work. I’ve yet to see a compelling case that AI in recruitment will be any different. Unlike AI, recruiters are in a position of knowledge rather than information. They comprehend what a candidate wants and match it to a company using the knowledge of what both parties hope to achieve, why they want it, and how they can work towards it.

There is also an argument that AI is the great answer to a problem that people seemingly can’t solve: unconscious bias. However, while the technology is still developing (and, at some point, could prove to be a useful tool in this regard), high-profile slip-ups by the likes of Google and Microsoft shows us that AI is still very much imbued with the biases of its creators. In all likelihood, there is still a long way to go before we’re able to tackle this effectively with tech, and I question whether there is a better solution to unconscious bias than becoming conscious of said biases, and accounting for them in the recruitment process.

Final Thoughts

Although it’s true that AI is very good at ticking boxes and cutting down on time, it cannot develop a relationship with a candidate and client or replace cold calling, headhunting and networking. In the end, recruitment will always be a people industry, and it requires insight, empathy and the ability to follow through to give candidates a good experience and find high-performing talent.

At OCG, we pride ourselves on being career makers, and know that patterns and data can never replace genuine care, the drive to push the boundaries and a commitment to meeting the needs of clients and candidates. Our business is people, and this is at the heart of all the work we do. To find out more about how we can help match quality candidates and employers, and ultimately, build careers, get in touch with our team today.
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