These days, Artificial intelligence (or AI) is rarely out of the headlines. Each day—or so it seems—new advances are made and new uses found for this technology.
For instance, according to recent reports, Facebook is using AI to identify and remove terrorist content, and even prevent suicide. Google’s AI DeepMind became a master of the ancient Chinese game of Go by repeatedly playing against itself.
Meanwhile, one self driving car pioneer has reportedly established a nonprofit religious organisation to “…develop and promote the realisation of a Godhead based on artificial intelligence.”
Phew! Those are some big claims, and whether they will all bear fruit remains to be seen.
But it’s undeniable that AI has left the realm of science fiction and is today science fact—and recruiting is no exception. When it comes to the world of work, AI is already changing the way people hire and search for jobs. At its best, it offers new possibilities for tackling the problems people face in their professional and personal lives today.
Let’s take a look at how and where it’s already making a positive difference.
Machines as matchmakers
It’s understandable if you’re a little unsettled at the thought of AI changing the way you recruit talent. Maybe you’re picturing your clients receiving messages and answers from a cold, impersonal machine. Or worse, perhaps you’re worried that a humanoid robot will plot to take over your position (and then your company . . . and then the world!).
However the truth is, AI is a tool that serves us.
Every recruiter wants to create the best possible match between a job seeker and the right job opening. And with greater access to relevant data than ever before, recruiters are (theoretically) in a better position than ever to make this happen.
The problem is that too much data is indigestible for humans. We’re not always sure what to do with it, or where to get the data we need, and this applies to recruiting as much as any field.
AI technology can improve the odds of creating a great match—even right at the beginning of the process—by applying algorithms and making predictions that select only the most relevant jobs before showing them to job seekers.
Let’s say a job description is unclear or contains gaps. Algorithms can step in to estimate salaries or classify unusual or eccentric job titles that nobody actually searches for (“Digital Overlord”, anyone?).
Using natural language processing abilities, AI can also comb through what are often text-heavy and unstructured resumes to pinpoint critical information and paint a more accurate picture of the ideal job for a particular candidate.
The result? Job seekers see the jobs they need to see, and are provided with the information essential to making an informed decision—meaning less wasted time and better matches for recruiter and job seeker alike.
Using AI to reduce unconscious bias
That’s not all. AI can also carry out a wide range of recruiting and HR-related tasks. Keeping the job seeker safe from scams and protecting personal data is an important requirement in today’s world. AI helps manage this process, using signals to identify and eliminate poor quality sites, posts and scams.
It can also help reduce human bias. Take the new technology of automated assessments, for example, which gives HR and recruiting professionals insight into how a candidate would perform certain job tasks.
Here’s an example of how it works: A large contact centre in the EU needed to source seven different languages in one location. Now typically, a recruiter might typically have that person speak with a language specialist as part of the application process.
But doing evaluations with so many candidates and multiple different language specialists not only places a strain on resources, it also introduces a lot of subjectivity into the process.
Instead, the employer used AI-powered language proficiency assessments. This may sound like science fiction but it isn’t: Each candidate had a 10 minute phone conversation with the AI agent in that assigned language. During those conversations, the AI technology automatically evaluated the candidates’ fluency and communications skills.
The result? A far more efficient, less stressful process. Not bad for a cold, impersonal machine—and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Liberating employers to focus on the human side of hiring
Even as AI continues to make significant advances, it is never going to replace human recruiters. Rather it will enhance and improve our work.
The current capabilities rely on human beings to apply and use that technology and ensure that everything runs smoothly. But there’s more to it than that: no matter how advanced the technology gets, recruiting will remain a fundamentally human activity.
When job seekers and employers interact with great recruiters, they build trust, loyalty and a sense of teamwork—and this cannot be replicated by machines. The role of AI is to free up more time for recruiters, so they can place more focus on the human relationships that make them great at what they do. AI may be able to beat us at a game of “Go” but it will never beat us at that.
Raj Mukherjee is Senior Vice President of Product at Indeed.