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Rise of the Machines

by Johnathan Gorman

Head of Client Services 12th Mar 2018

Judgment Day is coming. And [nerd alert] in much the same way that a cybernetic warrior from a post-apocalyptic future was sent back in time to protect a 25-year old drifter and his future wife from a robotic assassin, companies can protect their recruiting staff from spending valuable time working on redundant hiring tasks.

Unlike the future war from the Terminator movies, the war for talent is real, and organizations must do everything they can to optimize how they source and hire the best and brightest people. Just like the movies, the rise of automation and artificial intelligence is upon us. But instead of world-ending consequences, it will actually bring us back to a long-lost place where the human touch matters most.

 Before I started working in Talent Acquisition, I spent 20 years in the film and television industry. Working in Hollywood taught me that behind every award-winning project is a great script.  It all starts with a screenwriter.  They’re the ones responsible for defining what they want the film to reveal, and creating an imaginative story that will excite audiences.  Producing an award-winning project isn’t easy, and it takes a team of highly qualified and passionate professionals who are committed to making it happen. This is also true in Talent Acquisition.

 These parallels are why I was able to make a seamless transition to my new career. Successful films and an effective Talent Acquisition strategy both take time to develop, and require innovative thinking. Each uses advanced technologies, a commitment to strong execution, and an in-depth understanding of your market and audience.

 Talent Acquisition leaders are the screenwriters of their organization. Their ability to ‘script’ an effective hiring process—one that blends the human touch with the ‘special effects’ of technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation—will impact both the workload and capacity of their hiring team.

The time has come for AI and robotics to become a key ally on your Talent Acquisition team. In my view, the rise of these very real machines have the potential to bring back the human touch that is vital to developing a strong organizational culture—one that allows your candidates to experience authentic human connections with your organization. That’s because they free up human beings from time-consuming administrative tasks of hiring and enable them to get to know the people and personalities both inside their organization and in their talent pools.

What if we viewed machine as a supercharged mind that leaves us with the freedom to insert our heart into the recruiting process—to deliver an authentic human touch into every candidate interaction? Won’t that enable us to understand the unique value of each person and build real connections?  

Machines are limited and (for now, anyway) can’t replicate what’s inside the human heart. They don’t understand the subtleties that make  one candidate a better fit than another, or has the key attributes to make her a potential top performer. Recruiting, more than any other industry, is built on human connections.

Research informs us that candidates are focused on fit and trust—things that can only be built on a foundation of personal communication and connectivity. In the interview process, candidates want to know that you care not only about their work experience, but also who they are as a person—what their hopes and dreams are. They want to be sure this human connection is authentic and meaningful, both from h the recruiter and the company they’re interviewing with.  

 Manufacturing matters.

To make this point more real, imagine you’re a recruiter in the manufacturing industry. A 2015 study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute estimated that, for every 100 jobs created in a manufacturing facility, 250 more are created in other sectors. Sounds great, right? Not so fast—the same study found that six out of ten skilled production positions go unfilled because of shortage of talent.

If you compound this with the potential restrictions on immigrant workers coming to the United States, the recruitment challenge becomes even more acute as organizations are forced to find candidates who have the right skills, or are willing to learn them.

Recruiters in today’s manufacturing sector (like many others) face an industry that is constantly changing and requires new skills from its workers. At the same time, we live in a regulatory environment that has made the Talent Acquisition profession highly complex. These persistent changes have conspired to reduce the time  recruiters can invest in connecting with their candidates. And as the workforce ages, recruiters will need this time to connect with a millennial generation that demands trust and authenticity from any organization with which they’re considering pursuing a career.

As companies begin to figure out how they will operate within this Fourth Industrial Revolution, they have an opportunity to adapt their script in a way that marries  the human experience with automation and AI. A recent study conducted by my colleagues at Alexander Mann Solutions reveals that only one in four businesses uses robotics in some capacity in their HR functions today. Rob McIntosh, a consultant whose opinion I really value, estimates that 70% of recruiters simply don’t care or are clueless about automation and AI, while 10% get it, and 20% want to learn. As Talent Acquisition leaders, we must educate our hiring teams on the advantages of utilizing automation and AI so that they care, and understand the impact it can play in their roles.

Applying these technological advances actually have the potential to empower human-to-human connectivity, freeing your Talent Acquisition team to effectively manage the generational differences and other diversity challenges that exist within a company’s talent pool.

Finding the right balance between automation and personal connections can serve to increase security, hiring productivity, and your Talent Acquisition team’s ability to tailor the experience for each candidate and hiring manager. Automation can be applied across the hiring process to ease the manual workload on your team, managing labor-intensive tasks like interview scheduling, offer and on-boarding management, and candidate communications and support.

In future blogs, I’ll continue to explore how automation and AI are revolutionizing the way we address generational gaps in the workforce. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me—any related topics you’d like me to address, or challenge my thinking.  The future of Talent Acquisition is as exciting as any Hollywood feature film. The adoption of new technologies is revolutionizing the way organizations find, engage and hire talent. Fortunately, I expect a lot fewer explosions and malevolent cyborgs—let’s leave those for the silver screen!

J Gorman Profile Photo

Learn more about the author, Johnathan Gorman, Head of Client Services at Alexander Mann Solutions in the Americas Region, by clicking his image
 

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