Why AI Must Be Welcomed into your Talent Tech Stack

Sheridan Gaenger
May 16 ․ 16 min read

shutterstock_366811019.jpgArtificial Intelligence: The topic of all topics. The trend that’s not only gaining a lot of attention in the Talent Acquisition sphere, but the trend that is perking the eyes and ears of talent leaders across all industries.  

The truth is AI presents a lot of opportunities to find talent, communicate with candidates and make better decisions. And, AI frees your recruitment staff from time consuming  tasks -- think about it as “purposeful AI.”

Naturally, with any new shiny trend making waves in a historically traditional industry, concerns arise. On May 4th, Symphony Talent welcomed Madeline Laurano of Aptitude Research Partners to the stage to address his topic in the right fashion, from the right lens: that of a talent acquisition leader.  

We don’t exist in a normal world anymore, we exist in an innovative space where AI has the ability to push us to be better, to be more creative, to hire the best.  

Let’s explore the role of AI in recruitment.

Challenges/Current State of TA

As we take a look at the shift that has taken place in Talent Acquisition over the past few years, we see the evolution from a reactive to proactive approach, meaning that recruitment functions are not being lumped into one framework. Why? Recruitment is not performance, not succession; it’s complex enough to deserve its own strategy, its own suite of technology, it’s own bucket if you will. Introducing the new framework: The Talent Trifecta:

  • Attract (Employer Branding, Sourcing, Candidate Engagement)
  • Recruit (Assess, Interview, Screen, Offer)
  • Onboard (Forms, Tasks, Socialization into Culture)

The majority of companies investing in a TA strategy are increasingly focusing their efforts around the first bucket “Attract.” According to ARP, 1 in 3 companies plan to increase their investment in that pre-applicant strategy and technology than any other area. Speaks to how organizations are approaching it. A lot of the value of AI falls in the first bucket. At Symphony Talent, there is a high level of interest in the Attract area. Attracting candidates isn't what it used to be. Why? Today, candidates are the ultimate multi-taskers. They are active, they are constantly "on" and they always learning. They are engaging in content everywhere -- across a variety of different channels and have high levels of expectations when it comes to their hiring experience. As we look at the consumer world we identify a huge parallel between what we expect there and what candidates expect here.

How AI can bring insights to this segment of the experience?

As the framework changes in TA, we are seeing the investments increase tenfold. This market is growing at a high rate. CB Insights found in 2012 investors were spending $400 million in the HR tech market. In 2016, that number sky-rocketed to $2 billion in talent acquisition alone!  The attention, the focus, all of it -- why? Because Talent Acquisition is a business priority and it is complex.  Organizations are competing for top talent while at the same time candidates want the best opportunity. The main areas of investment are: pre-hire, pre-hire assessments, background screening. This tells us:

Organizations need help in thinking about less bias, more science.

They need help making the best decisions, and leveraging solutions they trust based on data to find best-fit talent. AI & Machine Learning can help companies qualified people faster and better.

What is AI? What’s the Current Perception of AI in Recruitment?

Today, we as humans use AI in our everyday life without even knowing it. Think shopping on Amazon and the suggested items they offer based on past purchases. It’s not scary when we think about it as consumers. At a basic level, AI is the evolution of the technology process that has happened over decades. AI is a series of algorithms that automate a lot of rote tasks that we do every day. Today, most everyone craves more automation and because of that need, we have started using data to help software learn. Once the software starts seeing patterns, it starts learning. THAT is the state of today. At Symphony Talent, we’ve created an AI engine to help recruiters do their jobs better and more efficiently that starts learning the moment any information is collected about a candidate. As recruiters hire the algorithm starts learning what the key attributes are that lead to a qualified candidate, the qualifications and experience for hiring, and so forth. Now, the intelligence your solution uncovers automatically begins to match certain jobs to certain candidates. That’s the power of AI, and the direct benefit to recruiters.

Three ways AI is improving our talent landscape:

Candidate Experience: Companies that invest in AI were 3 times more likely to improve their candidate experience than companies not using an AI solution. Candidates /are looking for feedback and consistency that AI provides

Time to Fill: The average time to fill a position for organizations using AI solutions is 20 days. Organizations using AI are more efficient throughout the hiring process

Quality of Hire (the Holy Grail of Recruitment:) Organizations using AI solutions were twice as likely to see an improvement in their quality of hires. AI does an efficient job of narrowing down the pool of talent and identifying the right fit for an organization.

Myth #1: AI Will Replace Recruiters

According to ARP research, 43% of companies fear AI will replace their recruiters. It’s a natural, but misplaced, fear. The part that is missing in the AI equation is actually the crux of the puzzle: the behavioral traits and the emotional intelligence which are extremely important especially when it comes to hiring. Software can’t pick that up, AI can’t pick that up. AI doesn’t replace the human element, it simply lifts the administrative burden and helps hiring professionals make better and faster decisions.

How has the role of the recruiter changed?

Recruiters today wear a lot of different hats. They have to network, align with business outcomes, be transparent, be innovative and they have to be comfortable with data -- a skill that is relatively new. If you look at the Talent Acquisition function, it’s similar to marketing. You have someone responsible for employer branding, someone who is responsible for social media and so forth. AI can help in many of these areas by guiding better decisions and creating consistency. The role of the recruiter has changed because today’s candidates have changed. Candidates are literally everywhere and recruiters must adopt an omni-channel approach to be where the candidates are, at the right time. AI supports recruiters in streamlining the growing number of tasks it takes to reach, attract, hire and onboard candidates in today’s world. There you have it -- AI is empowering; AI allows recruiters to focus on the “recruit” part of the job rather than the research part.

Myth #2: AI & Data are the Same

It’s no wonder that over 60% of companies are confused by AI with the volume of new terminology being thrown around -- AI, Machine Learning, Big Data, and so on. In the basket of skills a recruiter has to master today, data is a new skill, a new competency that has not been core to the recruiter in the past.  

So, let’s break it down:

  • Data is the foundation on which AI works. Data is information, pure and simple.
  • Analytics are what is done with the data -- think of it as slicing and dicing the information. 
  • Metrics are the key analytics used to track specific activities -- time to fill, cost per hire, etc.

AI provides specific cognitive skills to continuously learn from data, recognizing trends and key events that help to inform next actions. In short, it builds on itself so that over time suggestions based on those learnings become increasingly better and more specific. It’s this learning that differentiates AI from analytics, and can start from the first interaction with a candidate.

Myth #3: AI Harms the Candidate Experience

When companies think about AI there is the idea that’s it’s not personal -- it’s sci-fi. In fact, the opportunity take apply AI to the Candidate Experience provides tremendous potential for hyper-personalization -- the ability to learn candidate preferences at every step of the process and to apply that to the very next encounter, whatever it is -- increasingly personalized content, communication focused on the preferred channel, preferred cadence of communication, interactions appropriately calibrated throughout the entire candidate journey. It doesn’t get more personal than that. For example: when a candidate comes to a career site, AI can recommend certain jobs to that specific candidate based on all of the information previously accumulated, regardless of where it began -- job site, social media or other point of contact.

On the recruiter side of the equation, the same AI engine can identify best-fit candidates based on all of the information previously collected, and calibrate communication based on where they are in the lifecycle. A win for the candidate as they know they aren’t going into a black hole. A win for the YOUR recruiter as they can hire quickly and more efficiently.  Bottom line, if AI is used correctly, with integrated data, it can deliver phenomenal experiences for the candidate.

Key Recommendations

As we continue to outline how AI can work for you, it’s critical to understand what solutions support these efforts.  AI is only as powerful as the data that it gets and many organizations struggle to ensure disparate TA technologies pass data back and forth. Way too much time is spent getting these systems to talk to each other. This is why Symphony Talent has launched X-Cloud + M-Cloud Solutions. We can bring all of this information together and leverage AI to guides better and faster decision making.

Future Predictions

As consumers we are surrounded by AI. We are using it on our Fitbits, using it with Alexa in our homes, on Amazon when we shop, and when we engage on social media. It’s part of our lives. The transition to Talent Acquisition therefore should be welcomed and talent leaders should be confident about the value it brings. AI drives unbiased  transparency of information. AI makes your data actionable. AI gives your recruiter's’ time back in their day, and provides informed insights to make better business decisions that drive better outcomes.

Ignore the hype. Invest in the reality. Get AI working for you.

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