Artificial Intelligence vs Emotional Intelligence OR Why recruitment agencies are still needed
These days, if there is one thing that keeps coming up everywhere it is… the booming artificial intelligence movement, aka AI (of course, aside from the recent political scandals!).
As any new big thing, this is creating controversy amongst our societies, and mainly between the younger and the older generations.
What is AI? It basically represents all the technical developments that give machines the power to think.
Here you may think that the subject has nothing to do with recruitment, but actually, a considerable amount of people out there seem to believe that AI is the future of recruitment (or the end of it, depending on which side you sit on: recruiter or developer!).
Obviously, as a recruiter myself, I feel pretty engaged in this controversy simply because I want to prove to the world that my job is needed and will remain needed for a long time. But not only that.
I also want to take this opportunity to share pride in my job, the industry I represent, and question some of the comments I read and hear every day about how bad recruiters are.
Last, but not least, I also happen to share my life with a Software Engineer who is absolutely passionate about Machine Learning and AI, and with who I recently had a very interesting exchange on what value recruiters add to recruitment that a machine wouldn’t be able to do. Well, here it goes.
1- Which parts of our jobs will soon be replaced by machines:
I have worked for different recruitment agencies over the years and I know how different they are in all aspects: from management, KPIs, rewards to due diligence…
But there is also a very common thing to every single recruitment agency: we all provide candidates to our clients.
How do we find these candidates? Key word searching and it’s easy.
Does that mean very soon a very cool trendy tech company with a head office in Palo Alto will implement a programme that will search profiles on the web based on key words? It already exists, and it’s called LinkedIn (but also: Xing, Monster, Reed, Totaljobs and many others…).
LinkedIn has even created special features and set up sales and training teams all around the world dedicated to Recruiters!
The list of responsibilities and tasks that machines could do for us is very long, and it can even be scary: Key word searching, CV formatting, interview scheduling, sending reminders, chasing for feedback, reference checking, paperwork preparation… and many more.
However, recruitment agencies add much more value to a recruitment process than the above.
The technological development we are about to see in the near future will very likely show that while some of us may not have been constantly going the extra mile for their clients (or candidates), many others have impacted strongly on the hiring capacity of their clients and given them the opportunity to access the talent they needed at the right time.
2- Limits of Technology (so far):
The main reason why LinkedIn, for example, is working so closely with recruitment agencies is because the value of the recruitment industry to the UK economy represents £35.1bn per year and is one of the most dynamic and growing sectors in the country (as mentioned by the REC).
Why? Because consultants use a skill which is very unique to humans that no engineer has yet managed to create a feature for and it is called Emotional Intelligence (EI).
Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to recognize and understand feelings and even though you may not yet see in which occasion recruiters use emotional intelligence, it is by far the main difference between an average recruiter and a good recruiter.
EI allows us to use a very personalised and consultative approach with both our candidates and clients, which gives us a considerable advantage: by listening and recognising the way people feel about they want, we can impact the way decisions are made.
LinkedIn finds you the right profiles but LinkedIn won’t convince people to either leave their current jobs or be interested in yours, let alone both things at the same time!
I work alongside recruiters whose candidates consider them as career advisers, sometimes even mentors or coaches. We are the ones taking our candidates through tough interview processes, managing their expectations all the way through and taking away the “scary” feeling of interviewing for a role they don’t really know much about.
When someone’s pride or feelings have been hurt because of a difficult redundancy process or the recent rejection in a previous interview, good recruiters are the ones who will help manage self-confidence to allow the job search to go on.
On the other hand, when clients or candidates expectations are not realistic, we don’t come up with a broken algorithm and an error message, but with an explanation and a solution thanks to our market knowledge.
The next 24 months is a very pertinent time to confirm what this will mean. Technological progress may not entirely represent a risk, but be the essence of the evolution and disruptive change of a misunderstood industry. My predictions are that being consultative and offering a “personalised” approach is the future of our recruitment industry. Whilst some of the less engaged and superficial recruiters may suffer as they offer the same value that technology can offer, others will thrive as we will be able to use this technology to our advantage and have more time to understand and solve our clients problems.
I hope you agree.