Automation and the Future of the Recruitment Function

by Aug 1, 2017Talent, Trends

Recruitment (Robotic) Process Automation [RPA]

Process automation has been part of manufacturing and other corporate processes for a long time. It is now beginning to impact recruitment. A recent CIO Journal article noted that the market is expected to jump from $183 million in 2013 to $4.98 billion by 2020.

It began with the automation of resume storage and retrieval, resume search, and the automation of some types of reporting. Applicant tracking tools were the pioneers in this area and have been joined by candidate relationship management (CRM) tools and screening and assessment tools.

Recently artificial intelligence and machine learning have led to the development and implementation of chatbots – tools that intelligently query candidates and lead them through the process of job matching, assessment and on to applying for a specific position.

In Figure 1 below, I have taken a very subjective approach to indicating which parts of the recruitment process are possible to automate by 2020, given the desire and budget to do so. Overall a significant portion of the recruitment process could be automated – and has been by a handful of firms.

But the reality is that most recruitment operations have only automated a tiny percentage of their processes, if any. These are the functions that will be negatively affected by the rise of recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) firms that have already invested heavily in automation and that can do better recruitment at a lower price than internal functions.

Figure 2 shows the percentages of automation I expect to see in the most advanced firms and in RPO firms by 2025 at the latest.

Growth of Use of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Predictive Analytics

The growth of automation has been possible because of the tremendous leaps that have been made, and are being made almost daily, in Artificial Intelligence. A.I. is already augmenting or powering many of the tools recruiters use including assessment processes, video interviewing, and chatbots. All software will incorporate some level of A.I. within 3 years.

Current chatbots or intelligent assistants that are commercially available include: Impress, Wade & Wendy, Olivia, Mya, Karen, JobPal, and Ari. I have probably missed many and new ones are being added weekly. These all use A.I. along with machine learning to constantly improve their results. It is possible today to find and engage a potential hire using targeted marketing and personalized messaging augmented with A.I. It is then possible to hand them off to an intelligent chatbot that will further engage them, screen and assess their capabilities, experience and potential and match them to a suitable position. And these tools will do so with less bias and more reliance on what has worked best in the past than most recruiters by using performance and other data to improve their recommendations.

The usefulness of a recruiter will be in their ability to make a final decision or guide a hiring manager to make that decision. Influencing and listening skills as well as the ability to build relationship within the firm and outside it with potential hires will be more valuable than traditional recruiting skills.

Redesign of the Recruiting Function

Recruiters who remain active will act primarily as coaches, advisors and mentors to both candidates and hiring managers. They will use a variety of tools powered by A.I. to augment their capabilities. Most sourcing, screening, assessment and engagement with candidates will be automated as will most administrative tasks. Background checking and legal compliance will be automated. The new skills for recruiters will be focused around the areas in Figure 3 below.

Other functions such as compensation, benefits, record keeping, legal reporting, compliance and so on are already highly automated or have been outsourced. Employee relations and other more human-to-human functions will be less imp acted by A.I., although they will find it useful to augment their skills and provide additional recommendation. But recruitment is the HR function that will be most affected by artificial intelligence. Recruiter skills will need to change and the type of person attracted to recruitment is likely to also change. Technical skills, job knowledge, and sourcing skills will not be as important as they are now.

The traditional recruitment function will give way to a more personalized, advice-oriented function requiring very different skill sets than are in use today. Hierarchy will be reduced and the function may be entirely dispersed among the various businesses and lack any single leader. Operations will be increasingly automated and require little to no human intervention. When needed, administrative help can be provided by a central group responsible for all corporate software.

Welcome to the A.I. augmented world of the future.

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