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Why AI won’t limit the lifespan of a recruitment consultant

By Victoria Fellows


With all the excitement around Artificial Intelligence, is the industry at risk of forgetting that recruitment is about human beings, with all their complexity? 

Artificial Intelligence promises faster screening and processing of CVs and closer skills matching. Whilst this leaves many recruitment consultants biting their nails at the impact this will have on their own value to the industry, I believe both candidates and organisations will come to rely more heavily on recruitment consultants as a result.

How is AI likely to impact the industry?

As HR functionalities and some recruitment consultants turn to AI to achieve scale; scale of CVs, scale of communication, and scale of opportunities are we at risk of the industry applying a one-size-fits-all approach for vacancies?

There are many inherent risks using AI but there are undeniable advantages too. The opportunities to screen CVs at speed and to source candidates from a much wider, global digital pool means that it will become easier to find people with the right skill sets on paper. But does that make them the right candidates?

Wider elements such as culture fit, personality type and broader interests are just as important as the qualifications held or the companies worked at.

It’s these things that are going to make consultants more valuable than they already are. Let me explain … 

Value to the company

With wider access to candidates with the right skills and qualifications (for simplicity, let’s call these ‘qualified candidates’) the things that set candidates apart such as culture, interests, and even leadership type are going to become much more important. Except these are the elements that AI can’t easily screen for. They are the preferences revealed in a conversation. Clues inadvertently given away by information excluded in a CV. Nuances spotted in an interview.

With a wider pool of candidates that look right on paper, it becomes harder to identify those candidates that are a genuine fit for a company. For this reason, using AI doesn’t necessarily remove the vast amount of screening involved in recruitment, it merely makes it more difficult later down the line as recruiters have to whittle down wider numbers of ‘qualified’ candidates, some of whom may not have even actively applied for the role.

For those candidates that didn’t actively request to be considered, it will be necessary to understand their motivations to determine whether the role appeals to them when it’s possible they hadn’t even been actively looking to change jobs.

This is another area where computers can’t be expected to deliver, placing greater value on the skills of the individual consultant.

Value to the candidate

Determining culture fit isn’t just an issue for the company, it’s an important consideration for the candidate too.

Then there’s time-saving. With AI offering faster screening of more CVs for more skills sets, those ‘qualified’ candidates are likely to be inundated with job proposals from a multitude of companies looking for in-demand skills.

That’s great if those roles are what you are looking for, but every day we receive calls from people looking for something just a little different. It could be a new challenge, or a desire to make use of a broader skill set. It could even be a complete change in direction. It’s these people that AI will fail.

The thing is, these candidates are often outstanding, and with broader experience have a lot to offer the organisations that choose to recruit them. So, it isn’t just the candidates that will be failed by AI in this situation, organisations will miss out too.

As recruitment companies and HR functions rely more heavily on AI, consultants will become gatekeepers to candidates, and sales representatives for organisations. It will become our responsibility to sift out those roles that aren’t likely to be of interest, enabling candidates to focus on those roles they are genuinely interested in. It’ll be for us to discover the gems that would fit perfectly within a business, even if their experience is slightly different from that which algorithms are looking for. The truth of the matter is, that for all the speed and scale that AI can deliver, it will never be able to provide the human judgement and emotional intelligence that a good recruitment consultant can offer.

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