It is 2019 and we all are reading the articles about what is going to change this year. I have spoken to industry experts and listened to many a vendor in 2018 and I’m prepared to make a few predictions on what will move the Talent Acquisition industry.
In 2019 automation sold as AI will be the thing to watch. Many of these technologies are sold to us under the term AI. Salespeople have learned to take advantage of AI as a buzz word to get them in the proverbial door and while many of the tools being sold under the AI blanket is not truly AI it does not mean that they should be overlooked. In fact, I would say that the sales people are actually helping our industry modernize by advertising their products as AI.
My reasoning is this. If you are going to Finance do you think you will have more luck procuring an AI-powered recruiting assistant that will schedule all of our interviews for us OR an automated interview scheduling platform? AI is a term that everyone has heard.
They understand, at least at a high level, that AI is being brought to bear on a number of business challenges. So they fully expect that TA, and everyone else, are going to knock on their door asking for money for AI. AI is one of the technology buzzwords TA can use in order to justify budgets to update what are all too often antiquated and inadequate systems. My advice would be not to look the proverbial gift horse in the mouth while getting lost in the semantics of what AI really is.
That said in 2019 would be wise to start with something simple and universal, if you have not already. I think a Chabot or an AI-powered interview scheduling platforms is the right place to start. Chatbots are becoming specialists just like recruiters and I think in 2019 you will start to see the technical recruiter chatbots followed by other specialties.
In this field, I see us following the pattern first outlined by IBM as they have rolled out new Chabot versions of Watson. They started with what amounts to a Chabot RN and have moved to Chabot lawyers that are able to answer a surprisingly large number of fairly complex legal issues. I believe in 2019 in an effort to distinguish them above the noise that vendors will begin to market their chatbots in a way that mirrors what IBM has been doing.
One of the things you need to ask any Chabot vendor is how many conversations their Chabot has had. When it comes to AI volume of data is the key to success. Up until now, chatbots have had very basic functionality and indeed there are places where to go where in a few hours you can build and deploy your own Chabot with no coding skill required. The programming itself is less important, at this stage of development than the number of interactions.
This is an underlying drawback to every AI-powered technology currently being sold on the market. It takes a large data set of interactions and manual ratings in order for an AI to “learn” what good looks like. Not only what good looks like to your organization but also it takes time for a Chabot to learn what someone means versus what they said.
It would be a mistake to believe that any solution comes out of the box and is instantly ready to make a major impact on your recruiting process. A Chabot will require an upfront investment in time and effort to set up and to make sure the messaging you choose accurately reflects your corporate culture and values. I would strongly recommend working with your marketing communications team when setting up a new Chabot.
To my mind, a universal entry point into AI would be to consider AI-powered interview schedulers. I have never met a recruiter that loves scheduling interviews and various studies indicate that recruiters spend between 15 to 30% of their time simply scheduling phone and in-person interviews. To me, this is a logical first investment because everyone can use it and it gives time back to recruiters that they can spend doing things that are more productive and that they enjoy anyway, things like talking to candidates and helping them get excited and prepared. I believe this is an easy win for any organization not already using these types of tools. After all, what would it be worth to give your recruiters as much as 30% of their time back?
For the more savvy users, there are a wide variety of new AI-powered tools that all have the same goal, of helping you talk to and qualify more people in less time. Sourcing powered AI tools are now commonplace in the market and look for vendors to start producing sourcing chatbots that conduct initial candidate outreach. I believe that this is an emerging area of AI and as NLP (Natural Language Processing) gets better it seems likely that these tools will become ever more sophisticated and in the not too distant future a sourcer or recruiter might simply be the people behind the curtain that tell the AI what to do. I know it seems like new tools are being produced every day and it can be a bit overwhelming but don’t worry. At it’s the decision to purchase AI or Automation is the same process as purchasing any other technology product or service.
Before plunking down large sums of cash on an AI-powered product you take the time to identify the biggest bottlenecks in your recruiting funnel. Once you identify your bottlenecks you should measure your current performance at those pressure points. It is going to be impossible to demonstrate ROI if you don’t know where you start. Ask questions about support, upgrades, and ROI from other customers.
A competent sales person should be able to answer all of these questions in detail but focus on the ROI. The business speaks the language of money and if you want to gain the trust of the business you need to demonstrate that you are a good steward of corporate resources.
If the people selling you a product can’t give you the numbers about how they will impact your bottom line I would be hesitant to sign a contract with them. Don’t get lost in the AI. AI and automation are tools that should be employed for specific strategic and tactical goals. Once you understand where your bottlenecks are I think you will find that sorting through the noise becomes much more manageable.
Bottom line no matter what sales terms people present you with make sure you understand exactly how something works and how it will benefit you, your team, your hiring managers and your candidates. Done correctly AI can be a powerful asset to improve your time to hire, candidate experience and cost per hire. Finally, don’t give up if the first thing you try doesn’t work. Amazon is currently the most valuable publicly traded company in the world and even they had to shut off their AI for a while.
Mike Wolford has over 15 years of recruiting experience in staffing agency, RPO, and in-house corporate environments. He has worked with such companies as Allstate, Capital One, and National Public Radio. Mike has also published 2 books titled “Becoming the Silver Bullet: Recruiting Strategies for connecting with Top Talent,” and “How to Find and Land your Dream Job: Insider tips from a Recruiter.” He is currently a Sourcing Manager at Twitter. An active member of the recruiting community, Mike has spoken publicly in an effort to help elevate the level of professional skills. Follow Mike on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn.
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