There’s a place in Omaha, NE called Boy’s Town. Boy’s Town was founded as an orphanage for boys in the early 1900’s, but today Boy’s Town is a full care facility for families and children, not just boys. There’s a famous statue onsite with a corresponding anecdote that I’ve always remembered — it depicts an older boy carrying his younger sibling on his back. As the story goes, someone asks the older boy, “is he heavy?”
To which he replies, “He’s not heavy. He’s my brother.”
Because my brain is weird, of course this reminded me of AI.
How? Why? Well, sometimes, we perceive certain things in our lives as a burden. But then, over time our perception changes and we come to view those same exact things as being pretty great. Right now, in the talent acquisition community I see this happening with AI. There are two camps: On one side, people think AI is going to change recruiting as we know it (in a bad way). On the other side, people also think AI is going to change recruiting as we know it (but in a good way).
So which is it?
Is AI a burden or a blessing?
Well, let me just say: It’s not heavy. It’s my robot.
If the history of recruiting and technology has shown us anything, it’s that with every evolution of recruiting technology and automation, recruiting has gotten better. As much as we all complain (recruiters and candidates alike) it’s never been easier in the history of the world to find talent, and each day, it actually gets easier. That’s all because of technology, and AI is the next version of the type of technology that will help us be even better recruiters tomorrow than we are today.
I believe recruiters truly care about increasing the talent of their organization. I also believe recruiters care about delivering a fair and equitable hiring process for those who want to work for our organizations. Delivering on those two things has been very difficult as we are flawed as humans. AI and technology also have their own flaws, but humans are uniquely gifted in that we rarely know our own flaws, and when we think we know the flaws of others, we are really just scratching the surface!
AI will allow us to be better at attracting and delivering better talent to our organizations and doing it more equitably. How do I know this? Any time you add humans into a process, you increase bias. Both conscious and unconscious. Any time you add AI into a process, you give yourself a chance to reduce bias because we can measure and audit for the bias that might occur. We might not always get it right the first time — and AI is certainly not perfect right now, depending on the use case — but we’re getting better and smarter everyday and constantly learning from. That sort of strategic, very controlled improvement isn’t really possible with humans.
The reality is, AI is actually making recruiters better.
I know we tend to look at anything that can “replace our work” as the enemy — but do you really want to be scheduling interviews yourself? Or sending out onboarding paperwork? That stuff is a nightmare. So let the AI do it, and you focus on stuff you actually care about.
Personally, I can’t wait to have my always-on, 24/7 AI robot peer and friend to help me become a super recruiter; to effectively and efficiently take care of the busy work we get bogged down with as recruiters; to increase my ability to deliver personalization and feedback to candidates who desire more communication from us, not less; to assist me in constantly delivering a pipeline of interested candidates who can self-schedule time with me and allow me to be an amazing builder of relationships with great talent.
Some of that is actually already possible. And the rest isn’t as far off as we might think.
That’s the recruiter’s hope for AI: That it will help us become 10x recruiters. As humans, we have limits, but we also have very unique traits that AI can’t replicate. Our superpower of making candidates feel wanted and desired is not something AI can or will be able to do very well. When you take both the strength and power of AI’s ability to automate and repeat tasks at scale, and you pair it with the unique traits of humans, you really do get a pretty great hiring machine.
It’s not heavy. It’s not a burden. It’s not my replacement. AI is actually the solution to every recruiter problem ever — and brother, that’s pretty cool.