The Human Factor: AI & Recruiting

Executive Search has changed a lot over the years, from faxing to email, to the Internet and job boards, and now Artificial Intelligence. AI is rapidly making changes in recruiting as well as just about everything else, but the people skills provided by an experienced Executive Search professional are still in demand and very much needed in today’s tight labor market.

I attended a seminar recently on how AI is revolutionizing the recruiting process, chatbots, Fetcher, Mya, ZipRecruiter… “You can post ads to hundreds of sites with a click, prequalify the candidates with a Questionnaire”…

“The best thing ever!”

“Hiring solved!”

“It’s a quantum step forward!!!”

Yeah, well… Take the salary question, did it take into account 401(k) match? Vesting?  Bonuses? Car allowance? When they’re up for their next raise? Cost-of-living differentials? SERPS?

Is the candidate interested? Yes! Great! How many other offers are they considering? Better yet, did anyone tell them that this position could lead to a Director role within a year? No? Did the most qualified person even apply? Hmmm…

Is it a small town? Candidates might look at that and not apply, Greenville is a small town 70,000 people, but it’s a bedroom community for Clemson, has some of the best school systems in the state, in the top 100 cities in the US by livability.com, Fortune 500 manufacturing tax base, awesome downtown, and Charlotte North Carolina is just 91 miles away, a city of 500,000… Is someone reaching out and contacting potential candidates with this information?

Is someone honestly sharing the negative aspects of the job with the candidate before they fly them out for an interview? Why is the position open? A new state-of-the-art facility open across the street hired half the plants labor force away… The vacuum conveyor caught on fire and cut the facilities production capacity in half for a month…

Good news –no, but reality for some.  I’ve had a conversation with a candidate regarding a similar situation like that and he came back with, “That is actually good, low hanging fruit.”. Yes, we went ahead with the interview for him. It is very important to talk to the candidate up front about such situations and the challenges and opportunities they present in order not to waste both parties time and money on interviews that go nowhere. Resolving conflicts, and avoiding miscommunications such as these, prior to the beginning of the interview process, is one of the key advantages to using professional search consultants.

Two years ago, a large corporate client called us, they were looking for a Research Fellow for clean label encapsulation systems for their product, at the time, very few people had that background. Their internal recruiters had worked on it for 6 months, they ran ads, check their ATS, posted internally, etc., and nada, nothing, nil…. This was a critical fill, the competition was in process on a similar project.

We went over the specifications with the client and went to work. Many calls later, following a winding path of research, referrals, and leads, we Identified a Ph.D. Research Scientist, local, who had done cutting-edge work in that area. We gave him time, answered his questions, obtained his permission to present him informally at first to the hiring Director, protecting both parties confidentiality in the process, then when some keys points were agreed-upon, we moved forward officially. Once he was presented the search stopped and the focus became getting him on board, a process with which we assisted. Without direct recruiting, it would not have happened.

Matching the real career goals to the real career path helps ensure long-term fit for both sides. Helping companies innovate, grow, and progress … Helping candidates identify opportunities that enable them to grow their career in a direction that is exciting and challenging for them… that’s what true recruiting is all about. Artificial intelligence is here, and it has brought many tools to facilitate the search and hiring process, but the human component is still needed, probably now more than ever.