Generative AI has been taking the world by storm. Bots like ChatGPT have been revolutionising the way we work, from writing content to creating strategies. On Episode 101 of Talent & Growth we spoke to Tim Sackett, the President at HRU Technical Resources, about how we can use automations to improve the recruitment industry. 

What are the major changes you have seen in the market in the last 12 months, and what should we be preparing for as we move into the new year?

Dynamic, hourly recruiting software has gotten to the forefront with conversational AI. We’ve started to see companies splitting their tech stack and talent acquisition. If you think about traditional applicant tracking systems (ATS), they were designed for people sitting in front of a computer, going through a process to apply to a job through a career site. If you’re an hourly worker, with low to no skills, more than likely, you’re looking at that job on a mobile device. You don’t want to go through all those steps like filling out an application or uploading a resume that you don’t have on your phone. 

I’ve seen a gigantic conversion increase on sites that are using conversational AI. A typical conversion rate is around 10% on a career site, whereas a chatbot can convert 50 to 70% of candidates who are starting the process. Applicant tracking systems aren’t even paid attention to. A lot of companies are waking up and going, “Wait a minute, we hire 1000 people a year. 900 of those are hourly, 100 of them are salaried. Why did we buy technology for the 10% of our hiring, instead of the 90%?” These platforms are on fire because they’re focusing on the early hiring piece. 

I have to ask myself, is the future of recruiting that we don’t need recruiting? For the most part, 90% of your hiring is posting a job, waiting for somebody to apply, and then processing that person through. Within two or three years, I won’t need humans to do any of that. The remaining 10% of hiring is finding and reaching out to people, building the relationship and getting to know your client’s specific requirements. That will be the real recruiting that’s done. 

What changes are you seeing right now in how companies are using AI?

If you think about the future of recruiting, it’s here already. I believe that eventually, most of the conversations or tactical work we do as recruiters will be completely done by AI. Most of our work can be automated. AI can post jobs on your career site, match it to candidates within your talent pool, reach out to them to see if they’re interested and get updated information, put them through a screening assessment, and schedule an interview. That’s the first time a recruiter will have a conversation with the candidate at all, and that’s the future that programs like ChatGPT are offering us. 

There’s a lot of examples of companies that are taking certain parts of their hiring online and automating it. Let’s start with low-skilled / no-skilled hiring. These are the jobs that pay up to $20 an hour, where the screening process is like, “Do you know what this job is? Can you legally work on this job? Have you been convicted of a crime? Are you going to show up on Monday? Okay, the job is yours.” At that point, conversational AI can approach people on your site and say, “Hi, what can I help you with?” They’re built with natural language processing, and it’s still not perfect, but it’s much more robust than it used to be. Its responses sound somewhat human, and they’re able to react to people’s input a lot better. They can talk you through a large part, if not all, of the application process. 

Some companies actually use that same conversational AI  to avoid candidates ghosting them. When somebody accepts an interview, let’s say it’s four or five days out, the bots can start texting that candidate to say “Hey, just talked to the hiring manager. They’re super excited about seeing you on Friday. Do you have any questions?” It’s just a relationship build, which is all automated, but the candidate doesn’t know it. The bots can include a call to action, like “Hey, I forgot to write down the time that I told you to come on Friday. Can you respond with that time?” That checks that they’re still interested. Automation can have a really big impact when you start layering in that level of interactive response.

What impact do you think generative AI has? 

For most of human history, we’ve been labourers. We actually had to physically do work. In the mid to late 90s, there was an advent of the creator economy. We went from labourers to creators. There are still labourers out there, but we can all foresee a future where robotics and AI and automation will take labour off the table. There’s going to be a point where labour just isn’t part of the economic workforce. We have this creative economy, but with the advent of ChatGTP and generative AI the future of employees is changing, because AI will become the creator and humans will transition into narrating. 

To put this in the context of an HR person, let’s say they need to make a little change to how an employee inputs their time to the payroll system. It’s just a tiny field change. The HR person calls the software company, who say that’s a customization, it’s gonna cost $25,000 and take six months. The HR person’s role as a narrator would mean working with the AI and saying “I need to change this field within this pay system so that employees can do this. Can you let me see what that would look like?”, and all of a sudden, it would happen. AI can tell you “By the way, by changing this field, you’re actually affecting a couple of other fields too”. As a HR expert, you’re narrating what you want to change, and AI can make it happen in real time. 

As a recruiter, instead of going out to LinkedIn or Indeed and searching for resumes, you can tell AI “I need a software engineer. I would like them from these three or four companies”, and then the AI can do hours of our work in a matter of seconds. We’re looking at a reduced need for a workforce because people won’t be required for so many tasks. We’re at a tipping point of rich countries not being able to replace their own people because they have a declining population. I think we’re looking at a global shift, not just a trend in the recruitment sector. 

To hear more about how AI is impacting the future of the industry, tune into the Talent & Growth Podcast here

This week I am inviting all our readers to learn how healthy their talent acquisition process is.

The Animo Group has put together a hiring health check accessible for anybody to use.

If you take this short assessment, you will answer the following questions:

  • How does your business’s Talent Acquisition function compare to your peers in the market?
  • Are your operational mechanics optimised to make your hiring strategies successful?
  • Are you in the best possible position to attract the best people in the market for your vacancies?
  • Is your talent process fluid enough to improve and good enough to deliver a fantastic candidate experience?
  • Are you using the right tech to enable slick data capturing and data utilisation?
  • Are you using that data to cement your TA function as a strategic partner in the business?

Not only that, but we will be able to use the findings of this report to present back to the industry precisely the most significant challenges we are collectively facing.

If you spend 3-4 minutes now completing the survey you will find out how your TA function stacks up AND you will help the community identify the challenges we all need to work on solving together

Win Win 🙂

Have a great week.

Episode 100 of the Talent & Growth podcast saw Hung Lee of Recruiting Brainfood return to the show to share his insights from years in the recruitment industry. He told us his thoughts on flexible working strategies, from the rise of the four day week to widespread issues that are plaguing hybrid and blended working styles. 

How are companies getting it right when it comes to hybrid or blended working?

Companies that had moved remote before COVID were called cultural radicals and innovators. At first, they assumed that it was the best way to do it, but they all abandoned it, because no one turned up at the office. Doing a blended approach is the worst of both worlds, because you’re trying to ride two horses at the same time. Some companies have been successful going fully hybrid, but I’ve noticed that those companies tend to be market leaders that are already miles ahead of the competition. Nobody is competing with them, so they’re no longer innovating. If you’re working in a hyper competitive market and you make the decision to do blended working, then the competition is going to eat you for lunch because they’ve removed those inefficiencies. Blended and the hybrid are a luxury state that only elite market leaders can afford to do. I think it’s a bad move.

Have you seen people being driven back to the office? 

I’ve seen the big headlines. Employers should take the chance to say why we need to get back into the office. We know that senior people prefer managing in person because it’s difficult to effectively manage a remote team, but there’s resistance to the return. Employees do not want to reconfigure their lives again. They don’t want to commute five days a week. They don’t want to do the Sunday weekly shop anymore. People have different priorities, which is exactly what we’re seeing when it comes to generational differences and varying management styles. That causes conflict, so some reordering needs to be done. This period will produce self-sorting, where some companies demand a return to the office, people will say no, resign and find work with companies that are more flexible or remote only. Those businesses will backfill with early entry talent.

What do you make of the trial of the four day workweek?

The Brits did this experiment quite aggressively with hundreds, maybe even thousands of companies taking part. What was really interesting is that the vast majority reported positive return from this experiment and will persist with it. Two thirds of companies that did it are going to keep going. That’s a fantastic sample, and it just goes to show that we’ve always been a little bit overworked. People are doing 40 hours a week, and you have to wonder how many of those 40 hours are actually productive. I would say at best 20. There’s a bunch of times when you’re distracted, doing other things or demotivated. Most people don’t have the energy to really work for eight hours a day, five days a week. The idea of simply taking down the hours to a more sensible number, giving people one extra day off on the weekend seems to be a very positive thing for these companies, the person going home for the long weekend and society as a whole. When people are happy and relaxed they’ll end up consuming a bit more, which stimulates the economy, which gives back to everybody. I think this experiment will work for everyone.

Do you think we’re going to forget about days and hours and just focus on deliverables? 

I would say that it depends on the type of work that you’re doing. If you’re in a collaboration-rich role and you’ve got a lot of dependencies on your work, that would be harder. That’s when some structure is going to be more useful to make sure everyone can work together. If what you’re doing is very low on collaboration or you run your own desk, that would be much easier to set up towards deliverable targets. As recruiters we can work to promote that too.

To find out how Hung Lee is innovating in the recruitment industry, tune into the full episode of the Talent & Growth podcast here

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

As we headed into the new year we spoke to Neil Carberry on the Talent & Growth podcast about what to expect in 2023. Neil is somebody who’s got his finger on the pulse as the CEO at the REC, and he provided us with fantastic advice for getting ahead in the next year. Read on to find out his best advice, straight from Talent & Growth Episode 98. 

How can recruitment companies keep their voices strong in the next year? 

Retention strategies are one of the main things that we need to focus on. Sensible companies are listening to their staff about the pressures that they are under. They’re not taking ownership of all of those pressures, because they can’t, but they are understanding what they can do to make a difference. Things like one-off bonuses to help with the energy bill rise will keep faith in the company. We also need to acknowledge that work is a transaction. Ask yourself what you need from your people, and what do they need? How can we mesh those needs together? People in TA should be talking to their colleagues in HR and leadership about how they can move our offers forward and make them distinctive. 

Is the climate changing for recruitment?

Candidates have got spooked by the changing market quicker than clients have. It’s more difficult to move people early in the year. Some people are saying ‘I need a 10% pay rise to keep up with inflation. These guys are only offering me 5%, so I’m looking at moving.’ Other people are seeing it differently. We’re getting feedback like ‘I like my boss, I know how to do my job and they’ll give me a 5% raise, so I’ll stay because of the security I have here.’ As recruiters we need to find the right people who are open to moving. 

Companies are never going to be able to offer everything that candidates want, but they can offer the most relevant things for their market, so it’s all about priorities. An example is hybrid working. Staff love it, as long as the company is clear about its expectations. It doesn’t matter if it’s two days at home or fully remote, they want clear guidelines. We can’t avoid our responsibility as employers, we have to make some decisions about what we need and articulate those decisions.

Are there any other challenges companies are going to be faced with in 2023?

The biggest challenge remains a shortage of people. The domestic labour force is getting smaller, because the baby boomers are a big generation, and they’re leaving the labour market. Brexit has tightened the market too, so labour being a scarce resource is going to stick with us now. Companies should be planning their business model for that environment. Productivity performance in Britain for the last decade has been a horror show. Companies need to put people first. If you do that, you’ll have a huge commercial impact. After a decent finance director, the next thing you need is a decent HR director. Companies need to be thinking strategically about how to lead and manage our companies to create opportunity. 

What advice would you give to recruiters preparing for 2023?

Talk to your clients. Understand where their pain points are, understand what things are shaping the company that you’re in. One of the tendencies in our industry is to throw as many hooks into the sea as you can to try and catch some fish, but a well-baited hook is always going to catch a fish better than an un-baited hook. Invest in a niche or client with some foreknowledge. The more you know about your sector, the better you’ll perform in it. 

Know where the business is going. Ask yourself, ‘Is everything I’m doing this week aligned with where I want my business to go?’ Do I know where this business is going and what skills it needs to get there? Do I know who the decision makers are? Am I hearing from them about their pain points? Am I reshaping what we’re doing to meet those needs?’ That’s the behaviour pattern that I see from the best people in the business. This is a people business, so focus on where you can make a difference and who you can make it to. 

To hear more about Neil’s work with the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, tune into the full episode of the Talent & Growth podcast here

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.