The Future of Recruiting is AI and other thoughts from HR Tech

November 20, 2017 at 10:00 AM by Britt Ryan

Britt HR Tech Reflections Header (3).pngIf there's one thing I've learned from my life in recruiting, it's that the technology we use changes constantly but the fundamentals often remain the same. Yes, we've gone from Rolodexes and phone calls to job boards and emails to texting and even social media recruiting. But the skills that we use to talk with and engage candidates have not changed all that much. Still, change is afoot. 

Nothing gives you a better idea of what's happening in the industry than walking around the HR Tech exhibition hall. There are literally hundreds of companies showing off their products. Everyone from the biggest players to the smallest one or two-person startups shows up, and I've never seen our industry so full of innovation. With the entire industry worth an estimated $200 billion dollars worldwide and massive companies like Facebook and Google joining the party, the rate of innovation won’t slow down anytime soon. We may even see it accelerate. 

As one of the hosts of Entelo's Hiring on All Cylinders podcast, I was fortunate to speak with many of recruiting's leading thinkers and practitioners during the conference. They had no shortage of interesting things to say about the developments moving recruiting into the 21st century. My major takeaway: Recruiting and HR are, as an industry, on the precipice of some major leaps forward. Here’s why.

The Consumerization of Technology

For a long time the only people using HR software were HR people. That meant that a lot of companies could get away with creating products that weren’t very easy to use. But now we have apps for everything, including applicant tracking systems, interview feedback software, candidate relationship managers, calendar apps, benefits management software and everything else you can imagine. It's a brave new (and easier to use) world. As Leapgen CEO Jason Averbook told us, “We’re all technologists now.” And he couldn't be more right. The fact that everyone uses smartphones and the "appification" of business technologies means that the bar for the software we use at work has been raised. People expect technology to be smooth and seamless to use and many companies are following suit, making life better for all of us. One such company is Namely, whose CEO, Matt Straz, sat down with Entelo CEO Jon Bischke to chat about Namely's huge success over the past few years. As Matt explained, a large part of Namely’s appeal is how simple it makes HR processes that used to be incredibly complicated and not very user-friendly. The thing is, if the HR and recruiting products created today isn’t as easy to use as the apps on our phones, people just won’t use them. So, for probably the first time ever every recruiting and HR company has to create products that are easy to use for recruiters, hiring managers, applicants and everyone else. That's a huge change, and one I'm glad is taking place. 

AI is Here to Stay

Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and other “smart” technologies are no longer something in the far-off future. In fact, they are already driving many of the most innovative recruiting and hiring technologies available right now. Organizations ranging from giants like Amazon and Johnson & Johnson to small, nimble startups are leveraging intelligent technologies to hire faster, smarter and cheaper. This isn’t a complete surprise to me, given the fact that I’ve been using Entelo's latest artificial intelligence-powered talent sourcing product, Entelo Envoy, for months, but the degree to which other companies and industry leaders are also using AI made me realize this isn’t cutting edge anymore, it’s the new normal. Many of the most tedious, cumbersome and time-consuming processes are gradually being automated, which means recruiting teams are getting the opportunity to be more strategic than never before. And it's not just high tech companies. Sjoerd Gehring, Johnson & Johnson global VP of talent acquisition explained that for his company, “There are already tangible use cases where AI is improving recruiting.” And he wasn't the only one to say so. The technology behind AI is finally beginning to achieve real milestones. Welcome to the future.

Culture is Still Huge

Despite all of this talk about technology, culture is still one of the most important differentiatiors for every organization, large and small.  And the thing is, you can't fake it. As Indeed Hiring Lab fellow Tara Sinclair told us on Day One, “Finding ways to make the job more enjoyable and family friendly is really valuable" for recruiting and retention. The best candidates aren't just concerned with compensation. They want to know what the work experience is like. Things like how success is measured, the lifestyles of coworkers, and work - life balance are growing in terms of their value to candidates. And there is research to back this up: Happy employees create valuable companies. The most successful organizations think about ways to create and nurture a strong people-first culture, and technologies can play a big role in thow they do so. Feedback tools like Tinypulse, sites like Glassdoor, and even periodic candidate surveys offered through your ATS's are essential ways to track how you’re doing on the culture front, both internally with your employees and externally with candidates. These feedback loops give you the information and data points you need to make sure you’re taking care of everyone and creating a culture of mutual respect, transparency, and fairness. Recruiting is already a tough business, but recruiting without a strong culture is an uphill battle you're unlikely to win. 

Reducing Bias is Top of Mind

“Bias is the biggest problem in the recruiting world" Humu CEO told our CEO Jon Bischke during his appearance on Hiring on All Cylinders. It was clear to me that reducing the prevalence and impact of bias is an industry-wide concern. To be clear, unconscious bias is a tough nut to crack, but we are now at the point where recruiting technology can help reduce its prevalence. At Entelo, we’ve been working on reducing bias in sourcing by anonymizing candidate profiles, but we’re not the only ones making a difference. After all, bias comes in many forms and has many negative outcomes, one of which is the gender pay gap. Glassdoor, led by Chief Economist Andrew Chamberlain, is doing their part with recently released research that demystifies the gender pay gap and brings more transparency to the world of compensation to create a fairer playing field. And bike company Trek is doing their part by rethinking the idea of culture fit. As Trek Talent Acquisition Manager Jeremy Ryder explained, Trek wants to “Attract people of all backgrounds because they all add unique value.” That sentiment was echoed by Sjoerd Gehring as he explained that: “Johnson & Johnson is looking for culture add, instead of culture fit.” It's no surprise that talent teams are leaders when it comes to diversity and inclusion, but what excited me most is that these are all leaders with the wherewithal and authority to drive change. And there are now concrete techological solutions available to help them do so. 

The future of recruiting and talent acquisition technology is more exciting than ever and as literally hundreds of organizations and thousands of people race to solve some of the toughest problems facing recruiting, it’s a good time to be a talent acquisition professional. Based on what I saw in Las Vegas last month, the world of recruiting and human resources are in for some really amazing changes and I’m excited to see what’s to come.

Related Articles:
The Future of Work With Leapgen's Jason Averbook
Using Technology to Reduce Unconscious Bias
Humu CEO Laszlo Bock on the Big Problems in Recruiting

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