AI and the Reinvention of Human Recruiters

With new technology comes more time for recruiters to perform more human tasks.
AI recruiting

Artificial intelligence in recruiting presents recruitment professionals with an opportunity to provide higher-value services to hiring managers, create a better candidate experience and help organizations build a best-in-class workforce.

To understand how much AI is changing the recruitment process, it’s helpful to appreciate how AI is being applied across the business world. Using real-world data, AI discerns patterns and relationships faster and better than software or humans. Noteworthy applications include:

  • Driverless cars aim to improve safety and free “drivers” to do other things while being transported.
  • Systems that diagnose and predict diseases will allow doctors to provide a wider range of preventive care solutions and to treat patients in remote areas.
  • Machine learning technology will help farmers to optimize their use of inputs to produce larger and healthier crops.

In each of these areas, AI systems are displacing a human decision-making process, allowing people to take on different tasks or a larger role. While AI (and other forms of technology such as robots) undoubtedly will eliminate some functions and jobs in the coming years, it will also generate new and completely different jobs. People who grow their skills and learn how to work with AI to offer greater value to their organizations will prosper.

This is a tremendously exciting time to be in the recruiting field. Much like the way the “employee relations” function in many organizations evolved into a higher-level human resources business partner service, recruiters — with the aid of technology — have an opportunity to become strategic partners with top management in the design and building of a high-performance organization.

At Korn Ferry, we’re using AI technology in several ways:

  • Utilizing a database of about 250 million individual work profiles across the globe — which is augmented by human input from Korn Ferry professionals — we precisely match job descriptions with candidates and identify high performers in specific job categories.
  • We’ve imported a Bayesian network, or a probabilistic model, into our database to find patterns and relationships and trace individual histories to better understand what a successful person looks like in a particular position. For example, in a search for a global automotive maker, we discovered that in one country there was a significant movement of executives from the luxury goods sector to the automotive sector — a relationship that wasn’t obvious otherwise. The client applied that insight to recruiting in several other countries.
  • We use chatbots to help candidates research job openings and to schedule interviews, reducing administrative work and providing a candidate with a quick way to determine if there is a viable opportunity in an organization. Using a natural language processing technology, a chatbot can engage a person in a conversation, through either textual or auditory means.

The Future for the Recruiter

The trend toward increasing use of AI in recruiting appears inexorable. In a Korn Ferry global survey on the future of recruiting, 64 percent of respondents said AI and big data has changed how their organizations recruit. Most interestingly, 87 percent said they are “excited” by the prospect of working more closely with AI, and only 11 percent thought AI would replace their jobs.

The availability of AI technologies demands that recruiters expand their skill sets, enter into more collaborative relationships with hiring managers and provide strategic guidance on talent management in concert with their client’s business strategies.

A recruiter whose primary skill set is identifying good candidates on the internet will find their value diminishing over time as AI systems essentially take over that function. In place of that skill, the recruiter should become an expert in AI technology outputs in order to provide clients with deeper and more impactful data analytics that will help them make better talent decisions.

Through these technologies, recruiters should be able to provide hiring managers with up-to-date data on the size of a talent pool in any geographic region, compensation levels and a competitive analysis of other organizations that are targeting the same talent pool. Armed with that knowledge, the recruiter can help the hiring manager to define and communicate the competitive advantage of their organization to the overall talent pool and to individual candidates.

Beyond AI use, recruiters should endeavor to develop an in-depth knowledge of their client’s underlying business in order to stay out front of trends and to identify talent issues that may be on the horizon. For example, a recruiter could anticipate and provide input to a brick-and-mortar retailer that is expanding online sales and ultimately will need a high-performing cybersecurity team.

Talent quality is becoming an increasingly important competitive differentiator in the business world. By harnessing the best available technology tools, recruiters can help their clients to develop a smart and effective talent strategy and build a workforce for long-term success.

Franz Gilbert is vice president of product innovation at Korn Ferry Futurestep.