If you attended the HR Technology Conference in Chicago earlier this month, there were two buzzwords you heard more than once if you visited the expo hall: Engagement and A.I.

Getting behind the idea of engagement is easy. Companies who care about their workforce – especially a knowledge-based workforce – have better odds of succeeding with said workforce than a competitor who doesn’t engage with their employees. Caring is profiting, it turns out.

A.I., or artificial intelligence, is a bit tougher to sink your teeth into. I say that not only from an employment standpoint, but an everyday one. My phone talks back to me, I apparently need a monolith in my house that I can talk to and manage my life and cars will soon start taking me anywhere I want to go, but I’m not sure I understand the technology behind it, let alone the ramifications.

Olivia - Recruiting.AiSo, it’s no surprise the world of recruitment is struggling with this phenomenon of A.I., currently highlighted by chatbots with pleasant-sounding, non-aggressive names like Mya, Tara, Esther, and now Olivia.

If you don’t know Olivia, the first product from Recruiting.Ai, you likely know one of her sister companies in Jobing, Recruiting.com or Hire Story. Why? Because they’re all a part of the Recruiting Ventures family tree, headed up by industry veteran Aaron Matos, officially founder and CEO of Recruiting.Ai.

“Recruiting software today – ATS’s and job boards – still mirror, and in many cases are still built on, the same foundation of software from 10-20 years ago. We see a tremendous opportunity to reimagine the candidate and employer experience with new A.I. tools, NLP, and a mobile first mindset that will bring a new modern paradigm to recruiting,” said Matos.

Not surprisingly it’s that industry experience that helps Olivia shine over other offerings. While solutions like Mya automatically answer questions based on pre-existing responses, Olivia’s sequence of Q & A funnels candidates through an application process. Therefore, Olivia is built to be step one of a job seekers journey, and not a post-apply customer service application.

Built on a text-messaging foundation, job seekers express interest in a company. The first question asked is “What’s your full name?” Answering means you just filled out the first datapoint of an application process. Another question asks if you’re at least 18 years old. While it feels conversational to the candidate, the whole process is very directed at getting bodies into a database of prospects.

“We’ve talked to thousands of job seekers and they’re tired of long job applications, tedious forms, broken mobile experiences, and never hearing back from employers. Olivia is able to create a better candidate experience, and at the same time improve candidate capture and conversion,” said Stephen Ost, Head of Product for Recruiting.Ai.

Fixing Mobile Apply

Applying for jobs still sucks on mobile devices, where, by the way, a growing number of candidates are going. The process continues to be the same old forms squeezed into a 4-inch screen. Even applying with your LinkedIn or Indeed account credentials tends to be clunkier than it needs to be.

Shamrock Foods Jobs - Olivia AI
See Oliva in the bottom righthand corner.

Chatbots like Olivia may be the answer. Recruiting.Ai is currently working with client Shamrock Foods to integrate Olivia into the application process for driver jobs, an audience well-known to be on-the-go and mobile-first. When job seekers visit a responsive landing page touting these opportunities, they’re greeted by Olivia in a style similar to chatting on Facebook mobile (see screenshot). Once a job seeker clicks Olivia, the application-via-chat begins.

The data Olivia captures goes into a CRM, where recruiters can access candidates with their own responsive dashboard. The recruiter can even choose to chat with a job seeker manually as Olivia or as themselves. At that point, it just feels like everyday messaging, the most popular activity on a mobile device. Sorry, email.

Recruiting.Ai says results have been transformative to the recruiting process, including over 93 percent candidate capture and completion rates compared to <10 percent for typical applicant tracking system (ATS) applications, and improving traditional media effectiveness by up to 300 percent vs sending candidates to an ATS.

If chatbots and A.I. can fix mobile apply, everyone will be better off. Candidates can apply without feeling like its 1986 and that they aren’t investing 15 minutes filling out forms and throwing a resume down the infamous resume black hole. Employers can actually start engaging with candidates in a way that’s appealing, intuitive and timely.

Of course, change is never easy. A lot of people are perfectly fine searching through candidates in their ATS, reviewing resumes and playing phone tag. The knee-jerk reaction will be everything has to flow through an ATS. The hardest-fo-fill positions with the highest churn will get in line first, especially if they have a mobile-first audience. Companies with native apps for consumers will finally be able to recruit in a way they haven’t before.

Olivia is currently in beta. If you’d like to be added to the wait list, you’ll need to – what else – chat with Olivia. And doing so will put you in the vendor’s database of prospects, similarly to adding your email address to be added to a wait list. Bots make the process much more personal, however, and according to the team at Recruiting.Ai, way more effective in closing sales.

Disclosure: I am a former employee of Jobing and still a shareholder.

About the Author

joel-cheesman-headshotJoel Cheesman has over 20 years experience in the online recruitment space. He worked for both international and local job boards in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. In 2005, Cheesman founded HRSEO, a search engine marketing company for HR, as well as launching an award-winning industry blog called Cheezhead.

He has been featured in Fast Company and US News and World Report. He sold his company in 2009 to Jobing.com. He was employed by EmployeeScreenIQ, a background check company. He is the founder of Ratedly, an iOS app that monitors anonymous employee reviews. He is the father of two children and lives in Indianapolis. Yes, he’s on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can hire me too.