The rise of AI in various industries is an interesting, far-reaching discussion. We’ve written about its applications in the recruiting space, and so have dozens of others. It’s definitely a hot topic out there.

Some (a very small percentage) are at the forefront of actually working with the technologies involved, most are aware of the potential ramifications for almost every business — and look, admittedly some just have their head buried in the sand about it.

It’s not quite at scale yet, as former Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka admitted recently to UPenn’s Wharton Business School, and it might take another decade or more to fully arrive at scale. AI was actually initially developed at a 1956 conference at Dartmouth University — so yes, less than a decade after WW2 ended, AI was on the scene.

Why isn’t it dominating business yet? That’s a complicated topic for another post, but Sikka has noted a wave of different “hype cycles.”

This one isn’t necessarily a “hype cycle:” it’s likely AI will take more jobs than it creates, although by no means will it take all jobs. The number most reported by reputable sources seems to be somewhere between 35-47% of jobs could be automated away in the next 25 years, with a ceiling of possibly 800M jobs globally.

The impact on recruiting

Most recruiters we talk to like to actually build relationships and pipelines of interested candidates. They like to see what makes candidates tick and where they want to go in their careers.

That’s only logical, right? Why else would you get into recruiting if you didn’t enjoy those aspects?

That’s what they like to do. No one ever promised you that your job would be more about what you like to do, but that would be awesome.

So now think about how recruiters often spend their time:

  • Reviewing resumes
  • Scheduling interviews
  • Urgent projects from management (spreadsheets, etc.)

In some studies, recruiters self-identify that 65-75% of their time is going to these tasks.

3 in every 4 minutes of your workday, then, could be going to logistical tasks.

That’s taking away from what you really want to do — and how you could be of higher value to your company or firm.

This is the great promise of AI.

What’s the great promise?

The rote tasks — the ones more susceptible to human error when conducted by humans anyway — can be done by AI.

The human beings can focus more on relationships and having those career development conversations. Maybe they can even focus on broader three- to five-year strategy for headcount need, backfill, turnover reduction, etc.

AI takes away the 65% of time you’re running in circles on task work and gives you that back.

That’s the great promise. And that’s most of what you will see from AI in the next half-decade as the technology continues to evolve.

What’s the big question of talent acquisition?

For most organizations, it’s “How can I get the best people?” or “How can I most accurately predict performance?”

All recruiters and hiring managers can easily leverage AI to help solve this question:

  • Start gathering résumés, performance reviews, work product, any information at all about highly successful people that already work for them
  • Put this information into the AI suite
  • Provide it context on roles and job descriptions

“Human in the loop”

Clara Labs’ approach is interesting. Recruiters have been using Clara (which you can name anything you want) to handle schedule coordination at the top of their candidate funnel. Clara books intakes and phone screens by getting candidate availability, knowing the recruiter’s scheduling preferences, and sending out calendar invitations. The recruiter doesn’t get bogged down in logistics.

Clara is oddly both “human” and “bot.” Clara Labs actually calls their approach “human-in-the-loop” which means they use both machine learning and a team of human experts to handle scheduling requests:

  • The software helps Clara be fast and precise.
  • The humans ensure Clara’s communication with candidates is clear.

Today, Clara Labs announced the launch of coordination for others so recruiters can use Clara at the top of the candidate funnel and when it’s time for a candidate to connect with an interviewer.

With this launch, recruiters using Clara can send an email introducing an interviewer to a candidate, pop Clara in the Cc line, and ask Clara to find time for the two to talk. Clara works directly from email, using natural language, and interviewers don’t have to have a Clara account to use it.

Clara will get the interviewer and candidate’s availability, find a time that works, and send them both calendar invitations. Recruiters can track the whole process, and jump in with that helpful nudge if the interviewer isn’t responsive.

As more and more tech companies come onto the scene to serve recruiting teams, the growing world of recruiting operations becomes increasingly important. Recruiters need efficient, data-rich workflows, but they also want control.

The big thing being missed in the AI discussions/space

You can’t necessarily solve a people issue — and talent acquisition is a people issue — with software. You can more effectively approach people issues with software, which is what Clara Labs (and others) are doing. But you still need that human touch, because the idea of an entire process end-to-end being managed by a bot/robot/etc. still would confound many job-seekers. The human element needs to be there. It can be more effectively there and some of the admittedly-BS task work can go away — thanks, AI! — but this “human-in-the-loop” approach is interesting. It seems that could get to scale faster than simply automating the heck out of everything.

Finally, you always want to make sure whatever platform you’re using, the focus needs to be on candidate experience. That’s what will get you a bad name out on the market — if you mess that up. Don’t buy the shiniest AI suite because some sales guy worked his nurture campaign on you. Buy the thing that’s going to work with your pre-existing systems and make candidates feel better about your process. Buy that suite.

Ted Bauer

Originally from New York City, Ted Bauer currently lives in Fort Worth, Texas. He's a writer and editor for RecruitingDaily who focuses on leadership, management, HR, recruiting, marketing, and the future of work. His popular blog, The Context of Things, has a simple premise -- how to improve work. Ted has a Bachelors in Psychology from Georgetown and a Masters in Organizational Development from the University of Minnesota. In addition to various blogging and ghost-writing gigs, he's also worked for brands such as McKesson, PBS, ESPN, and more. You can follow Ted on Twitter @tedbauer2003, connect with him on LinkedIn, or reach him on email at [email protected]