Menu

Recruitment Insights

Artificial Intelligence, a Recruitment Panacea or Problematic?

Having been in the recruitment sector for 28 years I have seen it all, from the days when the sum of a candidate’s vitals was contained on both sides of a small filing card to the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) seemingly removing much of the drudgery out of the recruitment process boasting a rapidly increased turnaround time.

Working for Australia’s largest privately-owned recruitment agency (Centacom – now Adecco) in the 1990s, I was excited to be a part of the adoption of computerisation.  I can recall designing the first database for my employer using the back end of Access which was no mean feat!

Back then though, we had to enter every bit of data into each candidate’s database file, but we thought we were the ‘bees knees’!

Fast forward to more recent times and I continued this trend of being an enthusiastic uptaker of emerging technologies in the recruitment space.

During the time I have been running my own recruitment agency (1998 to present), we were one of the first to utilise video interviewing of candidates, plus continually upgrading our candidate database platforms – always hungry for the latest that technology had to offer!

It was a momentous day when we shut down the company servers (2012) in favour of Cloud-based storage, a move that enabled some of our employees to work remotely which was somewhat avant-garde back then!

Today, I no longer employ consultants, a career decision made by choice. Yet as an Independent Recruiter I still utilise and invest in sophisticated recruitment technology. Bullhorn is my ATS/CRM, video interviewing responds to my need to meet candidates based interstate and Zoom is an excellent tool for this purpose. I use Vertical Response for electronic direct mail campaigns as it integrates with Bullhorn and RecruitingHop has allowed me to promote jobs across many platforms all from the job listing in my ATS – I am enabled to move swiftly and effectively!

So, I am not a dinosaur and I am not a ‘nay-sayer’ when it comes to AI, in fact, I understand just how beneficial it can be and will continue to be as the capabilities continue to advance.

So why the heading re this post?

Unfortunately, and very worryingly, I am hearing, seeing and smelling lots of issues that are alarming in relation to the way AI is sometimes applied in the recruitment process.

Large employers undertaking high volume recruitment projects are reaping the benefits and rightly so, Algorithms that are well developed by people who understand the business needs are reaping significant savings in efficiencies as well as improving candidate reach and rapport. It is in the hands of some smaller less experienced recruitment players that concerns me. For example, the use of LinkedIn Recruiter which employs AI (Connectifier) capabilities, can only be as effective as the skill of that person designing the algorithm.

AI in the hands of inexperienced recruiters and HR employees could be a significant cause for alarm. At the very least it can result in robbing employers of the ability to identify exceptional talent that may not for legitimate reasons, meet the algorithms that have been established for that recruitment.

An article published in New Scientist[i], outlines many of the benefits in utilising AI but also warns that it will only work if the people setting the parameters (recruiters and algorithm designers) are prepared to take the time and care in appropriately defining what is required in a candidate.

Scholarly research findings also discuss some concerns around the application of AI in recruitment and the wider discipline of human resource management as having ‘potential to cause ethical, legal, privacy, moral, and vilification concerns for potential candidates’. The authors of this particular research go on to warn about the advancements in AI specifically in the ability to consider a candidate’s physical attributes as part of the overall decision-making process’ as of greatest concern.[ii]

Personally, I subscribe to the marriage of technology in the hands of well trained and highly experienced recruiters combined with the use of techniques that are often touted as being ‘the art of recruitment’.

AI in the hands of experienced recruiters and HR professionals is, and will continue to be, a most exciting and invaluable tool – but merely a tool and not the panacea it worryingly appears many think it is!

Cheryl McCormack is the Director of McCormack Employment Services and an Independent Recruiter highly experienced in all aspects of the recruitment process and can be engaged on an hourly, daily, weekly or project basis. Contact Cheryl on 0417899756 or cheryl@mccormackemployment.com.au

[i] Baraniuk, C. (2015). The AI Headhunters, New Scientist, 228 (3845), p. 20-21.

[ii] Van Escha, P., Black, S. and Feroliec, J. (2019). Marketing AI recruitment: The next phase in job application and selection. Computers in Human Behavior, 90, p.  215–222.