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Thought Leadership

How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Recruiters Keep Up

Friday, March 31, 2017
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The adage "doing more with less" is one with which recruiters are all too familiar. With LinkedIn reporting that 56 percent of talent acquisition leaders predict hiring volume will increase but only 26 percent of recruiting teams adding headcount, it's become increasingly clear that time-constrained recruiters will need to find ways to cope with a heavier workload this year.

Efforts to meet these competing demands have fueled a growing interest in recruitment automation and artificial intelligence for recruiting. While recruitment automation has been around since the first applicant tracking system, today's innovations in recruiting software are using artificial intelligence to streamline or automate parts of the recruiting workflow. Ironically, AI can enable recruiters to become more "human" by freeing them to create more meaningful, high-touch relationships with both candidates and hiring managers.

First, let's get some definitions out of the way. Artificial intelligence is the ability of a machine to mimic human abilities such as learning, problem solving, and perception using techniques such as machine learning and natural language processing. Machine learning is a computer program or algorithm that has the ability to teach itself by analyzing data and coming up with a solution. A machine learning algorithm learns from new data to increase the accuracy of the solution it comes up with. Natural language processing is the ability of a computer program to understand spoken or written human speech. AI for recruiting is the application of machine learning and natural language processing to the recruitment function in order to streamline or automate some part of the workflow.
There are several ways a recruiter can use AI to intelligently automate his or her workflow, especially for repetitive, administrative tasks.

1. Automating resume screening

Recruiters are hampered by two main problems when screening resumes: sheer volume and a lack of tools to properly screen resumes. Seventy five percent of resumes received are considered unqualified, and a resume typically spends 38 percent of its time stuck in the application and screening phases. Although an ATS helps speed up this process, many still lack the ability to quickly, easily and accurately rank candidates. The next generation of automated resume-screening software is designed to add another layer of screening functionality to your ATS.

Using machine learning, automated resume-screening software learns what the experiences, skills and qualifications of existing employees are from their resumes. It then applies this knowledge to instantly screen, grade and rank new candidates who best fit the profile of successful employees.

Automated resume screening represents a boon for recruiters by eliminating the need to manually screen resumes. It also holds the potential to reduce unconscious bias in hiring because AI can be programmed to ignore demographic-related information such as the candidate's race, sex and age.

2. Enriching resume data

Traditionally, a recruiter may spend several hours conducting research on candidates to find out more about their previous roles and employers, assess their personality from their social media profiles, and analyze their skills from online work portfolios, all to determine how well they fit the role. Using natural language processing, AI can automate this resume "enrichment" process by scraping a candidate's public social media profiles and online work portfolio to instantly analyze his or her skills, personality and experience and match them against the job requirements.

AI using resume data is one of the most promising applications for recruiters because AI excels at the type of pattern matching required for resume screening and candidate matching.

3. Automating pre-qualification and outreach

A recent CareerBuilder survey found that 58 percent of job seekers have a negative impression of a company if they don't hear back from it after submitting an application. Similar to consumers, today's candidates want and expect continuous and immediate feedback.

AI in the form of a chatbot can be programmed to interact with candidates in real time to provide this sort of immediate feedback. A chatbot uses natural language processing to automate repetitive tasks such as answering FAQs about a job, asking pre-qualification questions, and providing updates on the recruiting process.
By collecting chat data to identify potentially qualified and interested candidates, a chatbot can free up recruiters' time to concentrate on a smaller number of candidates. Recruiters can use this freed-up time to create more in-depth, high-touch relationships to uncover candidates' needs, determine fit and win them over.
Although still rare in recruiting, chatbots are becoming mainstream in customer service. As the lines between recruiting and marketing continue to blur, chatbots may take a front seat in the "customer service orientation" transformation of the recruitment function.

4. Transforming recruiting

AI has the potential to help transform recruiting into a talent advisor function.

Seventy percent of hiring managers say that improving long-term business impact requires recruiting teams to become more data-driven. Recruiters can leverage the data collected and used by AI technology to make more objective and unbiased recruiting decisions, close the loop with hiring managers by measuring key performance indicators such as quality of hire, and plan strategic initiatives for proactive hiring.

To demonstrate their value to the business, recruiters will be expected to link recruitment metrics such as quality of hire to business outcomes, such as increased revenue. As talent advisors, they'll need to create strategic partnerships with hiring managers and executives to map out proactive hiring initiatives based on future growth and revenue, rather than reactive back-filling. As strategic partners, they'll be expected to be subject-matter experts on the best recruitment tools and strategies to reduce KPIs such as cost per hire.

Finally, as people experts, recruiters will be expected to add a human touch to any automation and AI tool used in the recruitment process.

Ji-A Min is the head data scientist at Ideal, a talent-acquisition software company that uses artificial intelligence to automate administrative tasks.

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