Is “Recruiting AI” Set to Make Recruiters Obsolete? Not so Fast

June 7, 2017



One of the hottest topics in business, but also in the world, right now, is the emergence of Artificial Intelligence and what that will mean for various sectors of the economy. Just as automation has disrupted the manufacturing industry over the past several decades, advances in AI pose the possibility of disrupting a huge number of white collar industries and job functions. We’ve blogged about the rise of AI and automation quite a bit at Argentus, because – as a boutique recruitment firm with our eye on the future – we’re interested in how the world of work will change in the 21st century.

Which is why we want to comment on all of the buzz that’s picking up about “Recruiting AI,” for example this article in CIO about how the future of recruitment will be “more spotify, less craiglist.” The article profiles Jobspotting, a “Recruiting AI” solution that promises to allow “smart” sourcing and screening of candidates that goes beyond today’s job boards to offer candidates more relevant job opportunities, and then screen the hundreds of responses that flow in down to ten or so applicants that recruiters can then evaluate. The idea is that Recruiting AI will allow people to rate job opportunities, as well as inbound candidates, just like you would rate a movie on Netflix, and then use these ratings to help present candidates with more relevant opportunities, and recruiters with more relevant candidates. Which is all well and good.

A stronger AI might help take some of the grunt work out of recruiting, but does it actually stand to materially impact the work that recruiters do?

In our opinion, no. Every few years a new technological solution arises that promises to make recruiting easier. A few years ago, it was job boards, which have proved to be a fairly inefficient way of sourcing talent. The current technological recruiting solution for companies is Applicant Tracking Systems, which filter out job applicants based on keywords. These systems have the issue of relying on a candidate’s ability to accurately fill out a lengthy application, or stuff a resume full of keywords, instead of their ability to do the job.

These automated systems create extra work for applicants and recruiters, and make the process of finding a job more impersonal. Which is part of the reason why these companies still depend on human recruiters to do the very human work of sourcing, screening, and evaluating talent. Even a more sophisticated, AI-driven screening solution is still going to screen out people who – perhaps rightly – have dedicated their energy to being the best at what they do instead of being the best at passing through screening systems.

Companies like Jobspotting emphasize that the human element of recruiting is still going to be crucial going forward, saying that these AI recruiting tools will make candidate sourcing less “boring” and allow recruiters to focus on the more human (some might say “humane” parts of the recruiting process). Which is fair enough.  Such tools might be useful. But it’s foolish to think that even a sophisticated AI is going to give anyone a true leg up on recruiters who’ve spent decades putting in the work of understanding the more human element of the process – at least for the next few decades. And no “talent platform” is going to be as effective as real relationship-building and networking, which have always been the best way to find a job and source talent, in the job board era, the Applicant Tracking System era, and beyond. 

While there’s definitely a lot of ground to explore in terms of technology in recruitment – and we welcome advancements that would allow for more sophisticated sourcing beyond using keyword searches – the fact remains that a human evaluator of talent will be more effective than an AI, because a human understands humans. A skilled recruiter understands the intangibles beyond the keywords that make someone a good fit for an opportunity. When it comes to finding the right people for the right job, technology may augment the process, but it’ll never stand in for human expertise. 



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