Technology Will Reshape Talent Acquisition in 2018

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer February 13, 2018

This is the second in a two-part series of articles about recruiting trends for 2018. This installment addresses data analytics and artificial intelligence. Read the first part here.

Advances in talent data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) will provide talent acquisition professionals in 2018 with the tools they need to be more strategic and insightful when making hiring decisions and streamline the transactional side of recruiting.

Over 9,000 recruiters and hiring managers across the globe identified these trends, among others, as being the most impactful when surveyed by LinkedIn for the professional networking site's Global Recruiting Trends 2018 report. LinkedIn found that most companies are already using data to some degree to solve talent issues and that most recruiting professionals expect AI will eventually transform their roles.

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Recruit Smarter with Data

Data-driven hiring isn't new, but the increasing volume of data available, the speed with which it can be analyzed and its emerging capability to be predictive are making this trend impossible to ignore.

"Data is evolving beyond metrics like employee engagement and retention rates," said Alan Stukalsky, chief digital officer at Randstad North America, the U.S. division of the global staffing and HR services provider. "In 2018, more organizations will place data at the forefront of strategic workforce planning, with metrics that help them understand how to build better teams."

Recruiting has been "pounding the table trying to elevate what we do and be more strategic," added Brendan Browne, LinkedIn's vice president of talent acquisition. "Now data is everywhere. We need to embrace it and use it to get better results and drive productivity and efficiency for our teams."

Currently, the top uses of talent acquisition data are for increasing retention, evaluating skills gaps and building better employment offers, according to the LinkedIn study. The biggest barriers to using data are its poor quality and figuring out where to find it.

Corinne Ripoche Van Hecke, president of Pontoon Solutions, a global staffing and recruiting firm in Jacksonville, Fla., said predictive talent analytics would prove especially useful in mapping the traits and skills that predict strong performance, more effectively targeting sourcing channels to generate quality candidate flow, and understanding the causes of employee turnover to identify potential flight risks.

"Imagine that you needed to staff up a new call center," she said. "By analyzing the skills and attributes of current high-performers, a profile for new hires could be built and combined with local demographic and socioeconomic data to form the basis of a highly effective sourcing plan."

LinkedIn's Talent Insights—a self-service, data analytics tool for recruiters—will be widely available in 2018. The product compiles analytics on talent pools, skills and other companies' workforce composition so that HR professionals can make smarter decisions on workforce planning, sourcing, skills development and retention.

Leave Grunt Work to the Robots

AI is in the early stages of revolutionizing talent acquisition by helping sourcers and recruiters work faster and smarter by automating administrative tasks and generating computer-powered insights.

"Artificial intelligence, machine learning and other smart technologies are no longer something in the far-off future," said Britt Ryan, head of recruiting at social sourcing and talent analytics software company Entelo. "In fact, they are already driving many of the most innovative recruiting and hiring technologies available right now."

Byrne Mulrooney, CEO of executive search firm Korn Ferry's Futurestep division, said the emerging technology will streamline "virtually all aspects of recruiting, including sourcing, assessments, scheduling, creating accurate compensation models and following up with candidates for future opportunities."

But that doesn't mean the human recruiter will become obsolete, he said. "Technology frees up experts in our profession to do what they do best—offer sound advice to their business partners, create a warm and welcoming candidate experience, and get results."

Browne added that "if you are incredibly strong at storytelling, build a good candidate experience, create human connections, are able to negotiate and close, your future as a recruiter is very bright." However, AI will replace some of the processes that are manually done today, especially at the top of the recruiting funnel, he added.

Intuit's Vice President of Talent Acquisition Nick Mailey—tasked with hiring over 6,000 employees a year—uses AI to significantly narrow down talent pools to those most likely to engage with the company and apply and also to identify candidate leads not previously considered. The company is developing an algorithm-driven platform that scores and matches candidates to open positions based on the profiles of its top performers. "The value of machine learning is in prioritizing talent," Mailey said. "We're now really good at eliminating candidates we don't want. Since we no longer waste time on people who don't qualify, our recruiters are much more efficient."

London-based telecommunications company Vodafone saves time and money while assessing many more applicants than human recruiters ever could by using AI-powered video interviews instead of phone screens. Job seekers record themselves answering standardized questions, whereupon robots analyze the interviews and assess candidate suitability across 15,000 different dimensions, from body language and facial cues to voice intonation and speech cadence. The top-ranked candidates are then invited to in-person interviews.

AI technology is also prevalent in chatbots. "Through leveraging an AI chatbot such as Mya, outreach and communication to candidates can be nuanced and automated, creating a higher-touch experience from the start of candidate attraction and increasing conversion rates," Ripoche Van Hecke said. "This allows recruiters to focus on service delivery and tasks that require critical thinking and creative solutions."

One of the buzziest breakthroughs in 2017 was the trend of using AI and social technology tools to set up a "fence" around qualified candidates in a specific geography. "For example, recruiters can track candidates who visit a job fair solely with location data from mobile phones," Mulrooney said. "Then the hiring company can send the candidates specific mobile messages and ads after the event."

This was the second in a two-part series of articles on recruiting trends for 2018. The first installment looked at diversity hiring and workplace inclusion, as well as experimenting with new interviewing and selection techniques.

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