A group of recruitment and technology experts recently gathered at WCIT Hall in Central London to discuss technology’s disruption of recruitment.
The panel, led by Robin Bailey of Capricorn Media, first of all talked over whether recruiters would be replaced by technology, such as artificial intelligence.
The end of the road for recruiters?
Neil Farrell, managing director of Farrell Associates, isn’t convinced.
“Ten years ago when Linkedin came out everyone thought that would be the end of the road for recruiters. That simply hasn’t happened.”
He said that much of this comes down to the time-saving element. Technology that didn’t save time would be quickly thrown aside, Farrell said. He said the core of talent search is “to get the best possible candidate in front of the client as soon as possible.”
That’s fundamentally different to a lot of technologies out there at the moment which primarily serve the needs of the end user, he added. “Uber disrupts by offering a service for people that want to take a taxi from anywhere, at any time. On the other hand, recruiters are more like an Uber service that give people lifts that they haven’t asked for.”
Jonathan Pfahl, founder of Rockstar Group, said that in many businesses, any process that doesn’t contribute to the bottom line would naturally be chalked for automation. “This isn’t just about technology,” he said. “We’ve seen the same thing over the past decades as companies outsource support operations overseas.”
Jonathan Pfahl, Rockstar Group & James Grant, Weavee
Sometimes humans are smarter
The panel agreed that talent acquisition seems to unhelpfully straddle support processes that can be automated, and those that simply can’t. For example, while tools like AdView have been more able to connect job seekers with relevant employers, how can a robot know if someone’s being disingenuous on their CV? What penalty should be associated with that?
Of course, humans devise their own systems for screening candidates, and often these can’t be reflected in technology. Neil gave the example of the test his recruitment agency will give candidates they’re interviewing:
“First of all, we’ll ask them to share their background and why they’re right for the job. No matter what they say, we’ll say that ‘we don’t think you’re really what we’re looking for’. If that person agrees, then they’re not right for the role. If they argue their case, they’ll probably be a good fit. It works every time.”
Better data can lead to a better hire
HR advisor Raj Hayer added that technology makes the disruption of the recruitment industry certain. “Technology is only as good as the data you’re collecting”, she commented. “Its most appropriate use will come from a combination of cognition from people and technology-driven approaches. ‘Data’ could come from the candidate’s body language, from the results of their psychometric tests, or from an algorithm that’s serving information to the end-user.”
“However, digitised psychometrics’ use in recruitment will cause a disruption of the way organisations search for and screen candidates”, Raj said. Psychometrics require training and education to be used properly, which has traditionally made them difficult to use in line with algorithms. Although their accuracy and ability to understand more abstract traits in candidates will make their deployment inevitable as tech improves.
Although psychometric tests and CV screening algorithms are limited by themselves, using both measures at once can significantly improve their accuracy.
Neil Farrell with Nick Insley of Career Ready
Is the future in psychometrics?
James Grant, CEO at people analytics company Weavee, added that technology can be used to remove unconscious bias from the hiring process and increase diversity in the workplace. This diversity means not just a range of ethnicities or backgrounds, but cognitive diversities among the ways that people think, he said.
“Some companies may genuinely benefit from individuals with a higher tendency to anger, for instance. A mixture of psychometrics and technology, when deployed responsibly, can help understand the nuances of a company’s structure and help it play to its strengths. All the while, it offers cognitive diversity so the company doesn’t remain stagnant.”
Nick Insley, the Soth East Regional manager for Career Ready, added that regardless of the benefit to employees, “upskilling workers can help create more useful candidates that are able to take on new skills quickly as robots displace jobs.”
Ultimately, the panel agreed that you won’t be able to replace versatile, multi-skilled recruiters with technology. Even as tech continues its disruption of the job market, these people’s jobs will be safe. Parts of their role will be automated, but their ability to refocus in response to disruption will make them indispensable in a time of change.