Written By
Max Brown

10.05.16

Will automated sourcing replace recruiting?

Hiring managers often find themselves in a tough position. Typically, the reason that they start searching for a new team member is that they’re at or over capacity. They must put in enough effort to make sure that their search results in a quality contributor to the team. At the same time, workload isn’t going to decrease at all during the search. What if they could simply fill out a form and let a recruiting platform do all the work for them via automated sourcing? What if they didn’t have to spend another minute on recruiting? After all, tech solves most of their other problems. Wouldn’t it be wonderful and apropos if AI could automatically find the perfect qualified candidate for a technical or executive position from a pool of tens of thousands?

So can an automated platform take the place of traditional recruiting?

The short answer?  Yes and no.

For the longer answer we first have to differentiate between sourcing (finding the right resume or profile) and the overall recruiting process.  Eventually there will be algorithms that are extremely effective at taking input like a job description or an ideal resume, then searching the internet to constantly find and stay updated of relevant profiles (in face there are already a few that are getting close).  But sourcing is only one element of recruiting, and there’s a big part of the process that automation still can’t ace: Closing the deal. Persuading someone to consider a job opportunity is infinitely more important and more difficult than finding a group of profiles online that fit a specific set of criteria. Engaging these potential future colleagues requires a human touch.

As it turns out, humans are surprisingly complex creatures. For instance, although IBM’s Deep Blue can beat a human at chess or a Jeopardy champion at trivia, these tasks are finite and compartmentalized. They follow the natural, logical conclusion of a black and white pattern or easily predictable set of moves within a decidedly small set of behavioral constraints. Human relationships and optimal work styles, on the other hand, fall on a continuum of ever-evolving soft skills. We relate to people based on the sum of our experiences, filtered by our own biases. We work better with some individuals than we do with others, for often indescribable reasons.

In a team setting, the human element matters. The ability of teammates to work together effectively has a significant impact on a company’s bottom line. Ethics matter, and can also influence profitability. But it’s difficult for a computer to predict who fill follow a morally correct path. It’s challenging for a computer to assess who will be perceived by their direct reports as a good manager and who will be perceived as perhaps Draconian or, on the other end of the undesirable spectrum, weak.

Can AI truly determine someone’s motives? Predict who will be aligned with their company’s goals versus who will simply use people and positions to propel them to their next personal career goal? So while there are benefits to taking advantage of automated sourcing, there are also huge pitfalls if you start to treat the rest of the recruiting process that way. For example, no one wants to be on the receiving end of outreach communication that sounds like a template. Some goals, like convincing a unicorn hire to consider leaving his or comfortable job behind or building the best team, still require a human touch.