Artificial intelligence (AI) has already worked its way into our daily lives. Whether you ask Siri to wake you up or whisper to Alexa to get rid of this song. Most banks automate their fraud detection texts. You know, the ones you get when your card gets declined mid-taxi ride from the beach to your hotel.
Spam emails get filtered out of your inbox and social networks and now your phone can recognise individual faces in the pictures you upload or take.
All of these things, and many more, benefit from AI programs with varying degrees of complexity.
The influence of AI on our days is only increasing as technology continues to develop. It’s already in our transport, retail and manufacturing industries. So how it will affect recruitment?
Some feel that automation could make agency recruiters redundant.
Others are steadfast in the belief that “no machine will ever be able to build the kind of relationships that I do” … or some variation of that argument.
While both points appear to be conflicting, they’re equally true.
Currently, AI is really good at actioning commands, recognising patterns in data and automating programmable tasks. It’s not good at making meaningful, independent decisions… yet.
AlphaGo is the first AI program to defeat a human opponent in the ancient Chinese game of Go: a 3,000 year old board game played by shifting black and white stones around a board.
The rules are deceptively simple but, with more outcomes than atoms in the known universe, playing Go can become more convoluted than a game of Monopoly at Christmas. 40 million people play Go worldwide and AlphaGo is considered to be a significantly better player than any of them.
Key to AlphaGo’s success is the use of deep neural networks, a model for machine learning based on the human brain. This means it can perform millions of calculations at once using real time data, to determine its next best course of action.
It almost always wins.
You may have seen Sophia (the social humanoid robot from Hanson Robotics) cracking jokes in one of her many interviews recently. Sophia has the honour of becoming the first robot to receive citizenship of any country in October 2017, despite that country being Saudi Arabia which has some pretty backward views in many other things.
Verbal communication’s her speciality and she’s also learning to recognise not only facial expressions, but the emotions behind them.
Sophia’s recent priorities include delivering women’s rights in Saudi Arabia and planning to start a family of her own someday. I can’t believe I just wrote that about a robot but this is 2018 after all.
Your average agency recruiter’s unlikely to get their hands on tech like Sophia anytime soon. But vastly simplified versions of this kind of software are already used for managing email contact, grinding out lead generation and performing basic administrative tasks.
Either augmenting, or simplifying, certain processes, rather than replacing them outright, is the current state of play.
So how will this impact recruiters? Textio is one example.
A writing platform that analyses the performance of millions of job ads every month and coaches Consultants to write ‘higher performing’ content. The concept of this is a can of worms I could probably leave within arms reach of Mitch Sullivan.
It wouldn’t be too great a leap for programs to write ads themselves although this is likely some way off.
AI’s also been used to improve candidate experience by streamlining the selection process at a very top of the funnel. In 2015, software corporation SAP asked whether an algorithm could replace a recruiter at this level.
Using a two stage online assessment, candidates were quizzed on both their cultural fit and situational responses to common scenarios. Both stages were pass / fail and feedback was given instantly.
The project led to 500 hires globally and an estimated saving of £250,000 in recruitment expenses. SAP received zero complaints from candidates regarding their experience and applicant drop out rates fell from 93% to 25%. That research is now three year’s old.
HireVue’s video interviewing software uses AI to assess candidate responses and uncover insights into candidate suitability . Outside of the usual education, work experience etc, they help the user make more informed decisions about hires.
So far, over 600 companies, including Vodaphone, Unilever and the Hilton group, have used the service. Another example of how AI’s being used to augment rather than replace current processes.
AI personal assistants are a big deal and this space is perhaps where we will see some of the more usable leaps in innovation.
HiringSolved have RAI, a conversational AI program designed predominantly to source ‘on-paper’ candidates for roles.
Arya, by Leoforce, is pitched at fulfilling a similar function albeit with a strong emphasis on freeing up Consultant’s to focus on more meaningful tasks.
And Mya, an AI program from FirstJob, claims to be able to save up to 75% of your time by automating the majority of your admin, leaving you free to focus on things like building relationships and actually doing some recruiting.
We’ve also covered some AI in our recent articles on Productivity Hacks. For example, Clarke.AI which takes notes automatically when you’re plugging away at BD. Meaning you can focus on building another great relationship. Not noting down the names of your prospect’s dog.
Or Voice Ops, which actually listens in to your sales calls and suggests actionable advice backed by data-driven evidence to make your chat better. Unfortunately no such product exists for pub chat, just yet.
If reclaiming 75% of your time sounds appealing, imagine how good it sounds to your clients.
IPSoft’s Amelia AI prides itself on being able to fundamentally transform businesses, helping with all manner of administrative tasks and functions. She already works with Arvato Systems, Accenture and Deloitte, to name but three, and boasts of replacing most support and front office staff in due course.
One obvious benefit of this is clients might find themselves with more of an opportunity to go out and – gasp! – find candidates themselves.
That said, there’s never been a more welcome area for innovation than CRM management. The ultimate time consumer.
A lot of CRMs already have some automating features built in, parsing and formatting CVs being a particular fave. But the real difference will be in searching. Compare the search functionality of your CRM with the search functionality of Google. Chances are your CRM works like a really good keyword matcher and is easy enough for you to get what you need out of it.
Google uses an AI algorithm to assign relevancy to search results along with taking full advantage of advances in natural language processing. This makes your searches more intuitive.
And you can expect to see continual change in this area forever more.
Throughout history, we’ve benefited from the democratisation of technology.
Our goal to move towards a more digital way of living has seen us booking train tickets, taxis and hotel rooms, all from the comfort of our mobile phone screens. You don’t have to physically engage with another human being at Tesco if you don’t want to. Even McDonald’s is turning into Argos.
So, allowing technology to streamline our lives, from the palm of our hands is more commonplace now than ever before. And it’s only a matter of time before the recruitment industry at large is affected in a similar way.
Whether AI will allow us to shortcut, improve, or in some cases, totally replace what we do is yet to be seen.
Executive Search Consultant at The Advocate Group
Senior Consultant - Sales & Marketing at Michael Page Dubai
Experienced Recruitment Consultant at ProClinical
Principal Recruitment Consultant at Opus Talent Solutions
Talent Consultant - Workday HCM (contract) at Third Republic
Senior / Managing Recruitment Consultant: Digital at Reuben Sinclair