It’s one thing to see AI coming our way in HR. It’s another thing to know the best ways to harness it to improve sourcing and hiring success. AI isn’t just on the horizon — it’s part of some very forward-thinking recruiting and hiring programs already. Given how tight the job market is, AI is a way to give organizations a tangible edge on the competition. It facilitates a far more accurate way to see a far greater range and depth of talent — which means it’s easier to find better candidates — and more of them. And AI enables hiring teams to make and maintain radically better connections with talent, garner a far better sense of fit over a whole spectrum of criteria and frankly, be more human than we’ve been in a long time.

There’s no reason for any organization to shy away from AI’s capability — whether a big Silicon Valley firm or a small and lean startup. And leveling the playing field and reaching the same candidates as a larger organization, let alone a direct competitor, is just a matter of knowing how to use AI.

So, we decided to break down AI into five best practices along the hiring journey. We’re using a hypothetical hiring team we’re calling Talent Inc. to look at the five critical phases of talent acquisition, and how Talent Inc. draws on AI for tremendous advantages that result in better hires. This is an approach any hiring team can take:

Finding Talent

Our ambitious recruiting team at Talent Inc. has been tasked with sourcing 250 new hires for a growing company. These are positions from entry-level to senior management, covering a whole range of functions. Talent Inc.’s objective is to stretch their reach as far as possible to find the largest pool of talent they can. Their last AI-powered hiring campaign for this company was highly successful — and they still have all the data on the search patterns and strategies that found the best hires. This time, the team draws on that data to source a larger pool of similar candidates for the company’s new locations. They create a wireless “geofence” around specific locations. Automatically, the sourcing program gathers hordes of resumes of geographically segmented and promising candidates. Meanwhile, the team looks at the existing data on previous candidates and hires to see where there might be interest in relocating or moving up the ranks.

Making Connections

Since AI tools have done the heavy lifting for them, the team at Talent Inc. is ready to start sorting through the resumes of qualified candidates and reach out. They tailor their approaches to what they already know about these candidates — collected via AI — to make these vital first connections, using hiring events, social and mobile messages, and personalized emails. They begin to put together prospective talent pools for each level of hire, and start digging into resumes to see if they’re coming up short or sourcing sufficiently. They automatically set up and maintain an ATS. Since the whole team is working on the same platform with access to the same information, they can quickly set up automated tasks for AI to complete that will help them pinpoint ideal candidates for each position, and they can start reaching out to candidates who stand out.

Tending to the Talent

Even before they start screening for skills, competencies and experience, there are already conversations going on between prospective candidates and the hiring team. It’s not the hiring people doing the talking: there’s no phone tag or cumbersome emails. Instead, the candidates are engaging with a sophisticated virtual assistant. Candidates who show interest can do a pre-screening quickly with a chatbot, asking questions and getting a clearer picture on the position. Each conversation offers dynamic, responsive messaging and produces data on the candidate that the virtual assistant can share with the team at Talent Inc.

In the time it might take to reach out and have one initial conversation with one candidate, countless exchanges have already taken place and candidates are already engaged in the application process. There’s now a whole pool of candidates entering the talent pipeline, already having a positive experience and interested in finding out what comes next. Many of these candidates are digital natives, well used to interacting with chatbots and at ease with the process — and to them, the process implies that the employer is appealingly forward-thinking in its approach to business and people. Now candidates can start having real-time conversations with the recruiting team, who already know a great deal about each candidate before they talk — and can tailor their conversations based on what they know.

Making Sure the Fit Is Just Right

With 250 positions to fill, there’s little time to spend on potentially poor hires. But AI has already created predictive analytics on who may make the grade and be a great fit. A whole array of criteria has been used to create screenings and pinpoint promising matches, and the HR team can rely on the data to help narrow down the best candidates for each position — and find candidates that might be better fits for other positions they may not have applied for.

In each case, the hiring team can take time to get to know each candidate, whether in conversation or formal interviews, as the human recruiters are freed up from repetitive and tedious administrative tasks now being executed by the AI software. While the average recruiter only spends six seconds on a candidate’s resume, the team at Talent Inc. gets to know all the great candidates they can — and based on the data already gathered, there’s lots to talk about

Keeping the Hiring Process Going

Providing an outstanding candidate experience that really conveys the potential employer’s brand is a one of Talent Inc.’s core values. All the portals and dashboards prospective hires are using during this process are layered with the look, feel, mission and message of the employer. Interviews are being set up with the top-tier prospects within the company, but the employer and the hiring team have partnered on a new initiative of different interviewing tools.

recent study on LinkedIn found that key hiring trends for 2018 include different kinds of interviews and conversations, adding more of a human side to the classic mano-a-mano. That may include online skills assessments — which may be built around the data AI has gathered already on candidates. There are VR options for “trying out” the position in the virtual workplace, job “auditions,” video interviews, and far more casual interviews that set both interviewer and candidate at ease and allow for more meaningful and spontaneous conversations. The data intelligence has enabled recruiters to use their emotional intelligence. Soon Talent Inc. has recommended a pool of terrific candidates for the expanding firm, is monitoring and facilitating the application process, and has also maintained connections with those who may not apply this round, but may in the future.

“21st-century HR isn’t about playing it safe,” noted IBM’s David Green in a recent article by Arya on the role of AI in HR. AI has enabled our hypothetical recruiters at Talent Inc. to keep their employer ahead of the competition — sourcing the best talent in an extremely short window of time using the power of data and AI, and the freedom these tools give them to provide a terrific candidate experience that reflects the employer and sets up hires for engagement and success.

Every interaction has added to the data gathered on each candidate, and improved the recruiter’s understanding of the relative strength and fit of that candidate with regards to the company. AI has predicted outcomes and suggested plans based on previous successes to drive better hires and forecast future hiring needs. AI has also kept a close watch on any skills gaps or problematic screenings, reducing risk and paying attention to ROI, while recruiters are spending more time with each candidate, establishing a connection and a relationship. The result is a whole crop of promising new hires who can help the organization continue its growth.

And based on the data gleaned during this hiring phase and over the course of onboarding, development, and indeed the employee journey, AI can improve the next hiring push even more. If I could pat the team at Talent Inc. on the virtual back, I would.

 

This post was published first on TalentCulture.

Meghan M. Biro

About the author.

Meghan M. Biro // HR tech analyst, author, and brand strategist

Like most people who gravitate toward HR, Meghan loves people. Early in her career, Meghan realized she was a rare people person who understood tech. As a high tech recruiter, Meghan worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage startups to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google. Meghan founded TalentCulture in 2008 to lead a conversation about the future of work with her peers in HR and leadership. These days, she is consistently included in lists of top online influencers and writes about HR tech and talent management at Forbes.com, SHRM.org and a variety of other media outlets. Her career background spans recruiting, tech, marketing, branding and digital media. As an HR tech analyst, author and brand strategist, Meghan is sought after for her ideas about the future of work, is a regularly featured speaker at global business conferences, and serves on boards for leading HR and technology brands.