The Impact of AI on Recruitment in the Next Decade

Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is advancing at a startling pace and there’s a very real fear that human job security could be compromised in the near future. UK think tank Future Advocacy reckons that 20% of all jobs are at “high risk” of being automated, rising to 40% in some parts of the country.

Industries that are expected to change the most include transport, manufacturing, wholesale and retail, with education, healthcare and social work less likely to be affected. IBM’s Ross Intelligence, based on Watson technology, already does a bit of legal work, for example.

A PWC report on the effect of AI on the UK economy predicts that by 2030 UK GDP will be 10% higher as a result of AI. This works out to over £230bn in real terms. It’s also believed that AI could unlock extra spending power of up to £2,300 per household.

Happy days.

Whatever direction things take, either the jobs in your market are going to be affected by automation or your own job will. Or both.

To understand how much, it’s important to take a really honest look at what parts of your role could be automated. It’s also worth sparing a thought for how access to new technologies could mean an entirely different experience for you, your candidates and your clients.

We covered robots playing board games, programs that help write job ads and what would happen if an algorithm replaced a recruiter in a previous article.

Currently, AI tech in recruitment’s being used to either streamline or automate time-intensive tasks, freeing up consultants to focus on more important priorities.

It’s used sparingly at the moment, although there are a number of companies developing AI programs to handle most recruitment admin, mainly because machines can handle information at much higher volumes and with much more accuracy than a human ever could.

One of the biggest spaces in recruitment for potential innovation is in virtual assistants. The people responsible for Siri left Apple to start Six Five Labs and in May of 2016 announced ‘Viv’: a personal assistant program capable of understanding and actioning more complex vocal commands.

So, instead of repeating “CALL MUM” 6 or 7 times to no avail, think asking something like “find me that contractor in Manchester, the one I spoke to a few months ago, with no notice period who said they wouldn’t mind travelling and managed teams of ten or more…” and finding the right person. First time.

But it’s not just searching for candidates (or Mum). Viv can also learn things it isn’t specifically taught by harvesting insights from real-time data. In October 2017, Six Five Labs announced a partnership with Samsung, meaning Viv should be featured in a new build of Bixby sometime soon.

With this type of intelligent technology becoming easier and cheaper to access, it may only be a matter of time before you’re nattering away to an AI program and it’s writing your call notes, managing your inbox and crunching leads with little or no input from you.

In fact, if you wanted to you could be doing that already.

Imagine having most of the leg work taken out of your day.

Thing is, it’ll probably be your clients that benefit most from this – and sooner. Or if not them, then certainly the MSPs/RPOs they use.

They’re more likely to have a budget to spend on innovative new technologies and a desire to at least appear more cutting edge. They know their company, and what makes a good team fit, better than you do. And if they had the time to recruit themselves, why wouldn’t they?

What do you bring to the table that technology can’t? Hands up, who said ‘market knowledge’.

And if this tech is close to being in your hands, it won’t be long before your candidates are using it too. Most job apps use pretty simple AI to build lists of vacancies and send regular alerts to your inbox.

At Hunted, we utilise technology like this already.

 

Our bots spot patterns that we mere humans can’t by aggregating reams of data around impressions, views and applications, as well as tracking which user profiles are getting better responses from which companies. Next time you see a ‘suggested job’ on Hunted, take a moment to think of the overworked robots who’ve analysed millions of data points to serve you those suggestions.

We know doing this stops spam and improves your job search experience. Which saves you time and makes you money.

SoftBank's Pepper Robot Unboxed 

Obviously there’s never really a set timeline with anything technology related, although it’s likely that clients, candidates, and your competitors will start getting access to some pretty nifty tech if they haven’t already.

I’m reticent to use the phrase “technological arms race” although it does seem kind of fitting. Let’s use the timeline from the PWC report on AI and the economy: 2030. That’s 12 years away.

To put things into perspective, Alexa was only announced in November 2014. It’s now available in 35 countries and millions of people use it daily. It’ll be interesting to see if this rate of growth continues over the next three and a bit years. Where we’ll be by then is anyone’s guess.

So what does all of this really mean for the future of recruitment? That’s right! Speculation, my friends. Rampant, unfounded speculation.

AI won’t kill off agencies, and it’s unlikely to ‘fix’ the industry. It can make parts of your job much easier and it has the potential to make parts of it entirely redundant. A lot of the time recruiters act as a kind of acutely stressed out funnel between candidates and clients and there’s room to automate some of the more funnel-y tasks.

We want to be doing more of the important, human stuff but there’s always that CV to format or that spreadsheet to update. We use our position to influence as best as we can and the only reason we can do that is because of the relationships we build.

AI won’t take the human touch out of recruitment. It’ll shine a light on it.

Automating bad practices will only spark a race to the bottom, with recruitment administrators and a tech-averse ‘old guard’ being equally at risk. So yes there probably will be less recruiters overall. It’s possible that some companies will have to close their doors.

The recruiters that do well will move into a more strategic role, using AI as it was intended: to free up their time to focus on dealing with unpredictable, high priority issues. Client’s having second thoughts, candidate’s got cold feet. You know, human stuff.

The value you add will become an awful lot clearer once you strip away the work that a literal machine could do.

Think about it like this: how would you stack up if your number one competitor used AI to double their productivity overnight?

The concept of value is different for everyone. Bill Moore is good at some things while Mo Biall is better at others. At the end of the day, clients will continue working with you if your market knowledge is unrivalled and candidates will if their experience with you is better than anyone else. Or at least better than an app.

Above all, your future success could be determined by your sparkling personality being just as shiny as the latest new gadget.

As and when this kind of tech makes its way into the industry, keep an eye on the companies spouting USPs like: “we use the best AI programs available!” It will be worth making a song and dance about at the time, but the consultants that win will pride themselves on their humanity as well.

So get out there and be the best damn funnel you can be. Maybe think about getting your hands on some useful tech to make your life easier too? Your competitors will be catching up to you from under a mountain of admin.