What does AI mean for the future of recruitment?

Robin Cooper talks about his views on the recruitment embracing technology!

Machines and people are an odd combination, aren’t they? So many people have worried, at various points in time, that machines were going to take our jobs. But when you’re in the business of finding people jobs – as we are – we have to wonder, will AI even replace recruiters?

The answer is no – not yet – but only if recruiters keep focusing on what they’re really good at: using their intuitive understanding of people and the technology they have available at their fingertips, to make a difference.

Recruitment, Big Data and LinkedIn

There’s a huge amount of data out there. As of April this year LinkedIn claims to have a user-base of more than 500 million users.  That’s a lot of data that can be sifted through, analysed, and utilised.

Ignoring it, and the ability of technology to interrogate and use the information it contains for human benefit is folly.

But has it gone too far?

When LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft people started trying to make even bolder predictions, using the vast amount of information at their disposal that came from trustworthy sources: their users themselves.

They’re using this data in interesting ways – trying to predict when people are primed to leave a job, for example. We’re not just talking about identifying when people are updating their LinkedIn profiles (which is often, but not always, a sign that they’re thinking about making a change) it goes much further. The analysis of big data from multiple sources also does things like interrogate people’s historic LinkedIn data to calculate the frequency of their job changes and then combine this intelligence with their Google searches about moving house… Put that data together, and you’ve got a pretty good chance that someone’s on the job market.

Access to this level of information may not be possible for average users, yet, but it does force us to ask real questions about what we should be doing with data, and why.

Data has to be the start that enables genuine, human conversations

There’s no question, LinkedIn is a great resource. But it’s just the start. I would never call someone without looking at their profile and trying to find out something about them, first. But I would also never put their CV forward without speaking with them. Technology is an enabler – but it’s not a substitute. There’s only so much you can tell about a person without talking to them.

In my opinion, people seem to be forgetting about the human ability to engage the tools that we have at our disposal now, and tomorrow, for something better: not just to get information, but to improve our service offerings and level of expertise.

Recruitment is never going to be about putting a square peg in a square hole. People just don’t fit job roles that perfectly. But we can embrace technology to make our lives simpler and happier – and that goes for recruiters, and candidates.

Recruitment is about more than just matching CVs

There’s a lot of talk in the industry about ‘technical recruitment’. Could we just be replaced by bots who auto-search CVs and send them to clients?

I think that, in some unscrupulous recruitment firms, that’s pretty much all the humans are doing. But if computers (or unscrupulous recruiters) are just ‘auto-matching’ all they get to do is combine factor A and factor B with what they’ve been told to match. They’re missing so much good, human info. That’s not what good recruiters do. Good recruiters help find people a role – not just a job. It’s about putting them in a place that suits the candidate and the client, in a way that helps them both. If computers are involved, they can’t change someone’s perception about a candidate who might just be perfect for them, but who doesn’t necessarily tick all the boxes.

Technology has allowed recruiters to think less, and operate more on auto-pilot – at least some recruiters. At collective-i we’re not like that. Sure, we believe in technology, even use it, but we’re human, and we’re all about connecting with other humans.

An open invitation to the recruitment industry:

I’d like to issue an open invitation to the whole recruitment industry: if we can all do our research and use tools, technology and trends intelligence, everyone gets better. Our industry will get better.

Whether you consider yourself to be a social recruiter, a black belt sourcing guru, a talent pool manager or a relationship expert we cannot forget the basics:

-          Know your market, engage, be a specialist and do your own research, every single time. We all have access to information all the time. Use it. There’s no excuse. Be proud of what you do and why you do it – and act like a professional expert every day.

-          Do not forget the skills: we are people people, candidates are not a commodity. We provide a service to help someone with their career and to help our clients find the best individual for the job.

The only way we will see our industry grow and become more respected and valued is with specialist domain knowledge, expert skills, and by using the tools and technology around us in combination with our human ability.

Then, if we’re lucky, we will become a true partner to our clients and candidates alike, to build the business of tomorrow.


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