AI and the Future of Recruitment: How and Why RPO Will Lead the Way

Friday, May 12, 2017
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This is part of a special advertising section featuring forecasts on navigating changes and challenges.

With consumer technologies like Alexa, Google Home, Siri and Watson becoming more prevalent, it is now easier for talent leaders to imagine a future where artificial intelligence is the norm in their industry. But crossing that chasm between simply imagining what is possible to actually implementing a new technology for the future of recruitment will be a monumental challenge. 

Whether it is matching candidates to jobs, scheduling simple interviews, sourcing new candidates or delivering advertising to the right audiences, AI excels at some tasks currently done by people -- and does them more quickly and with higher accuracy.

Still, automation must be careful and intentional, and not done just for show. A simple arms race to see who can use the most automation is likely to lead to misfires, inefficiencies and candidate nightmares -- exactly what AI is supposed to help avoid. Automation must be implemented with an eye toward crafting an intentional candidate experience that features the right amount of technology mixed with the right amount of humanity. In a drive for efficiency, we must not forget that job seeking is a deeply personal and emotional experience.

AI will transform how companies do their hiring in many ways, some fundamental and others perhaps more minor. As with any transitional period, there will be stops and starts. But it is clear that recruitment process outsourcing providers are uniquely positioned to help lead companies through these changes, because they bring the following strengths:

Mountains of data: Without data, AI just is not very, well, intelligent. As technologies gobble up vast amounts of data, and anonymized data is able to be shared across clients, RPO companies have easy access to high-quality data to feed artificially intelligent systems.

A relentless focus on candidate experience: As the steward of a client's brand, a recruitment process outsourcing partner must recognize that while automation does reduce costs and increase scalability, it also has the potential, if done poorly, to hurt candidate experience. Finding the right touchpoints to maximize engagement is critically important.

In an experiment in partnership with one of our high-volume clients, we eliminated phone screens and automated the hiring process to push candidates directly from their application to the manager interview. The very first thing that happened was that candidates stopped showing up for the interview. They had not been engaged, so it was not a big deal to just decide to not show. We then inserted a shorter "engagement call" by a recruiter -- not to do an interview, but to build rapport and an emotional connection with the candidate. Soon afterward, interview rates shot right back up. The end result was a process that was still more streamlined, but now had the right blend of high-tech and high-touch.

Accountability for results: Like the recruiting shifts before it, there will be plenty of technology sold. Fancy demos and great salespeople will find success with a hungry customer base, who will then implement the new tech with tight project plans. Results, however, will be murky. Vendors will say that the client did not do X right or is too slow to adopt change. Clients, in turn, will blame technology or implementation vendors for poor training or the lack of XYZ features in the software. But with an RPO partner, the accountability is clear: get results. As an RPO provider, we cannot sell something just because it demos well -- we are accountable to produce results. This reduces risk for those innovative employers who are willing to lead the charge by partnering with a provider that is accountable for the entire process.

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Recruiting technology experts: The modern HR department has many specialists, but it is never enough. Teams also need core experts in technology, recruitment marketing, compliance and sourcing. A scalable RPO partner has dedicated teams and methodologies to select and implement the right technology for the right situation.

This is exactly what we do with SkyLabs, Cielo's innovation engine that is rooted in design thinking. Our experts have a firm grasp on the marketplace, and test new technologies to see how they could (or would not) help our clients reach their strategic goals.

A step change in recruitment is coming. Technology will soon alter how we hire, but not our desire for a great hiring experience. By combining technological expertise with thoughtfully crafted experiences, RPO partners are the best resource to help businesses forge their path in the new world.


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