Why recruiters must put AI and its strategies to work—now

Experts representing Bain Capital, Lyft and RingCentral agree: These tools will allow HR 'to speak the language of business.'
By: | May 7, 2021 • 4 min read
(Image: Adobe)

Artificial intelligence is invariably described as “advanced technology.” Some experts call it a step toward machines that will reason and converse, while others contend it’s simply a neat, rapid approach to performing statistical analysis.

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But as with most technologies, users don’t really care about what goes on under the system’s hood. Instead, they focus on how AI-driven solutions can help them do their jobs. So, while technology vendors are quick to brag about the power of their AI products, the people who actually use them examine their results in the context of productivity, efficiency and accuracy.

Author Hari Kolam

In the world of talent acquisition, that means how well a solution identifies candidates who match the employer’s needs, streamlines the recruiting process and personalizes the experience of recruiters and job seekers alike. AI simplifies the scheduling of interviews, the screening of resumes and the discovery of passive candidates who may want to work for your company, even if they don’t realize it.

Related: AI and hiring bias: Why you need to teach your robots well

But the impact of AI goes beyond nuts and bolts. Using AI frees up talent acquisition teams to spend more time on the work that only humans can do: conducting phone screens and interviews, building relationships, putting together offers and guiding both hiring managers and candidates through the process.

“By using AI and automation you can maximize the output of the humans on your team, be more cost-effective by hiring fewer people and, overall, allow the team to be more efficient,” says Leslie Kurkjian Crowe, talent partner at Bain Capital Ventures. “AI lets you focus on the right candidates, rather than spending wasted time on the wrong ones. It helps you hire faster and better.”

A steady wave, gathering speed

Talent acquisition’s use of artificial intelligence is growing. According to the research firm Absolute Market Insights, the market for AI recruitment platforms will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.6% through 2027. Given the advantages that recruiters gain when they leverage AI, this makes sense. LinkedIn found that 67% of recruiters and hiring managers say AI saves them time, while 47% report it reduces human bias in the hiring process and 31% believe it delivers better candidate matches.

By saving time and improving TA’s results, AI helps recruiting teams become more efficient, allowing them to conduct a wider range of searches and develop more candidate relationships with the same number of people. Such efficiency is a priority for nearly a third of HR managers, according to CareerBuilder.

“AI and automation can make people teams more efficient and effective by reducing manual research and administrative work,” says Ron Storn, former chief people officer of companies including KeepTruckin and Lyft. “By letting teams focus on the strategic parts of their work, technology can help organizations uplevel and develop their talent.”

Read more: John Sumser delves into AI and other emerging intelligence tools in his regular HRE column.

This is a critical point. When AI allows recruiters to spend their time working more closely with candidates, it also provides the opportunity to identify the best candidates and match them with the most appropriate role within the organization. The result is a pipeline that’s more in sync with the company’s needs, with the best-fitting candidates spotlighted more quickly and moved from screening to interview to offer more efficiently.

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“I’m always asked to drive more pipeline,” says Alvin Lam, RingCentral’s vice president of employee success—global talent acquisition. “If an AI platform can help my team to drive a more accurate and wider pipeline, that’s a game-changer.”

Burnishing recruiting’s reputation

AI’s impact on talent acquisition is evident in ways that go beyond areas like efficiency, faster pipelines, deeper candidate relationships and better hires. AI drives a more sophisticated approach to talent acquisition, which other functions across the organization tend to notice.

The use of AI “helps talent and HR to be seen as more strategic, more of a business unit,” observed Crowe. “There was a misconception before that you couldn’t run people teams like you’d run a business overall.” Since the advent of AI, however, HR leaders have gained the tools they need “to be strategic, to speak the language of business,” she says.

Indeed, AI has recast talent acquisition so that it’s built on a foundation of metrics. On top of everything else, that allows teams to be more proactive. “The wellness and wellbeing of people are so critical. If you can catch an issue before it becomes a problem, that enables the people team to be highly strategic and saves the company attrition and cost,” Storn says. “AI-enabled teams can be more effective and faster. It helps teams to interpret data and uplevels the organization.”

Hari Kolam is co-founder and CEO at Findem, a Calif.-based People Intelligence company. A serial entrepreneur and accomplished technologist, Hari counts nearly two decades of experience building companies and creating trailblazing technology solutions.

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