Not too long ago, recruiters had to sift through stacks of paper resumes and use tedious filing systems to manage their applicant pools. They'd call job seekers on their home phones over landlines – often at inconvenient times – to explain the duties of a role.
Later, the application process came online. The ATS was created to help recruiters sort through large quantities of resumes more efficiently. Bringing the hiring process online helped, but the model of sending in your resume and then sitting through interminable wait times as recruiters sift through stacks of resumes hasn't really changed at all.
Yes, the invention of searchable databases was an incredible innovation at the time, and career sites made it much easier to find and apply to jobs, but there hasn't been a significant update to the application process in the past several decades.
My father's recruiting agency, CTS International, was one of the first agencies to add a layer of technology that matched job requisitions to a resume database. In a crowded space, the agency's matching algorithm gave it the competitive edge it needed to outpace other vendors. This is a great example of how technology can improve the hiring process while also evolving the traditional recruitment model.
Having been so close to the industry, I was able to watch the evolution of the hiring process through a microscope. I saw that the technology systems of today are still not sophisticated enough to overcome the challenges posed by a new generation of job seekers who are frustrated with legacy job boards and the old-school tactics of recruiters.
Putting Paper-Shuffling to Bed: What's Next?
The next major milestone in the evolution of recruiting is the advent of AI — that is, artificial intelligence meant to enhance recruiter productivity and speed up the finding of qualified candidates. The "black hole" of job boards and other recruiting inefficiencies can be fixed if we use AI to automate and enhance key steps in the hiring process.
If implemented in the right way, AI can give both job seekers and recruiters the guidance and insight they need to make the right connections – not just the most connections. More darts doesn't guarantee a bullseye, even if it improves the odds.
Furthermore, AI in recruiting will create a candidate experience that is more aligned with the day-to-day behaviors and expectations of millennial and Gen. Z job seekers.
AI Recruiting Will ...
1. ... Automate the Qualifying Process and Inform Better Hiring Decisions
AI can automate many tedious tasks at the top of the recruiting funnel, including the initial screening of candidates, which frees up valuable time for recruiters to spend on more critical steps, like performing interviews, negotiating offers, and converting hires.
Introducing AI to the screening process can also keep top talent from slipping through the cracks. The best candidates are often pushed aside for not having specific skills or experiences listed on their resumes. The problem is recruiters don't have the time to contact every applicant to verify qualifications or ask follow-up questions. AI can automate those steps to ensure the right information is captured and hiring decisions are properly informed.
A candidate's level of interest is an important predictor of performance and retention as well, but it is arguably the most difficult to quantify. AI can measure candidate engagement by tracking a candidate's interactions with the AI itself, which can guide recruiters toward those job seekers who are more likely to be passionate about their work and stick around for the long haul.
2. ... Deliver a Better Candidate Experience and Improve Brand Perception
Job seekers rarely hear back after they apply to a job, which reflects poorly upon the brand to which they applied. According to a recent survey, 86 percent of job seekers consider employers to be unresponsive. Having been a recruiter for four years, I understand the challenge of reaching out to every candidate personally; it's pretty much impossible at scale.
If companies are concerned with the candidate experience and investing heavily in employer branding, they need to figure out a way to extend that positive experience to the post-application process. AI can provide businesses with a scalable way to deliver a high-touch, "white glove" experience, offering much-needed updates, feedback, and guidance to candidates throughout the entire hiring process.
Job seekers are often eager to learn more about the companies they are applying to, but they generally have no forum in which to ask their burning questions. AI can serve as an always available recruiter, enabling companies to deliver the ideal candidate experience: Applicants hear back promptly, always know where they stand, have a forum to ask questions, and feel like they were duly considered for the job.
3. ... Drive Significant ROI and Efficiency Gains
A.I. can drive significant ROI for organizations if implemented correctly. Time savings is the obvious factor, but there are also massive efficiency gains and brand impact to be achieved by introducing AI into the hiring process.
In terms of time savings, I broke the hiring process into 15 steps and identified 10 that can be automated by AI. So AI does not replace a recruiter; rather, it frees up the recruiter to focus on those steps that require a human touch. That time alone is worth millions to a large enterprise.
Join the Conversation: Do You Think AI Will Significantly Change Recruiting?
In terms of better hires, AI can eliminate irrelevant resumes at the top of the funnel, keep viable candidates warm and engaged, and uncover valuable candidate insights to help recruiters make better hiring decisions. Through its dialogues with each candidate, AI can assess relatively intangible aspects of a candidate, like their level of interest in the job. The recruiter is then armed with the knowledge and insight they need to be more successful in selecting and converting top talent.
As for brand value, AI can help recruiting teams deliver ideal candidate experiences by acting as an always available recruiter and increasing the frequency of communication with candidates. Candidates who feel they had a positive experience during the hiring process are more likely to convert as hires, become customers/advocates, and recommend the job or company to their friends.
AI is today's answer to age-old problems that plague the recruiting industry. Technology has finally progressed to a point at which it can aid humans not only from a process perspective, but also from a relationship one. AI allows recruiters to focus more time on the high-touch aspects of interviewing and closing offers while still offering a candidate experience that job seekers love. It's a win-win scenario.