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Why Is AI Adoption for Recruiting Just Crawling Along?

June 02, 2021 Digital Workplace
Mark Feffer
By Mark Feffer

There's a lot of talk about technology in talent acquisition: artificial intelligence, virtual recruiting, chatbots, digital interviews and the like. So it’s natural to think that recruiting is a cutting-edge, technology-driven field.

But even though websites and trade magazines publish thousands of words on advanced platforms, the people who are supposed to use these things aren’t lining up to update their processes. 

In fact, most Fortune 500 companies aren’t using AI and automation to personalize their recruiting campaigns and engage candidates. According to Phenom’s 2021 State of Candidate Experience report, 93% of these bellwether employers use AI poorly. That means they’re not delivering the level of personalization candidates have come to expect.

AI a Missed Opportunity for Many Organizations

Of course, Phenom — an Ambler, Pa., recruiting platform developer — has an obvious axe to grind here: Its products use AI across the entire recruiting and hiring process, so it logically wants to position itself as one of the expert companies in the space and to push the idea of AI tools bringing value to the hunt for talent.

That bias doesn’t mean Phenom’s results aren’t interesting. When it comes to technology and recruiting, its report describes a group of enterprise firms who are neglecting the basics. More than 91% don’t personalize recommended jobs based on a candidate’s profile, recently viewed jobs or job browsing history. Only 9% use chatbots on their career site. And 89% don’t have an intuitive search and apply process for jobs, meaning one that requires fewer than three clicks.

Which makes one want to say: “It’s 2021, people.”

For several years, talent acquisition and AI have had a cautious relationship. In 2018, a study by LinkedIn found that 34% of recruiters and hiring managers described AI as either very or extremely important to their hiring efforts. More than two-thirds, 67%, said it helped them save time, while 43% said it helped remove human bias and 31% said it delivered the best candidate matches. Those are solid results. But only 8% of these same business people said their companies had either mostly or completely adopted AI. 

Why is this important? To give one example, Phenom points out that chatbots are an easy way for candidates to get information and for recruiters to judge a job seeker’s interest. They also smooth out clunky search-and-apply processes, which can make employers seem old-fashioned and increase the chance of candidates abandoning the process and moving onto another employer. They’re increasingly accepted by consumers, and they’re not exactly a new technology anymore.

Why wouldn’t an employer feeling the pinch of a talent shortage want to introduce chatbots into their recruiting?

Related Article: Digital Hiring May Become the Rule Instead of the Exception

Employers Need to Update Recruiting to Keep Up With Demand

This is happening at a time when employers need every leg up they can get when it comes to talent acquisition.

“Recruiting has just become more competitive as the economy has gotten bigger," observed Andres Blank, co-founder and CEO of Fetcher, a New York City recruiting automation company. "Demand for knowledgeable people has increased with the economy, [but] the supply of people, not necessarily.”

It’s also happening as candidates lose patience with solutions that don’t perform on the same level as those they use to shop online, download music, keep in touch with friends or even follow baseball games when they can’t get near a TV. Candidates want the same type of experiences during their job search, Phenom said. Advanced technology like AI is the foundation of many services employers use to deliver them.

The stuff works. According to Phenom, chatbots that answer questions and present relevant jobs double candidate leads and increase job apply rates. By automating manual tasks such as screening and scheduling, they also improve recruiter productivity.

Related Article: Make Responsible AI Part of Your Company's DNA

Technology Puts Companies in a Better Position to Hire Talent

Phenom also identified a number of things employers don’t do: 94% don’t provide job recommendations based on their career site’s browsing history. Ninety-one percent don’t present job recommendations based on a candidate’s profile. Also, 91% don’t display recently viewed jobs. And notably, 99% don’t share an application’s status after an initial email is used to confirm submission.

That’s not helping employers who bemoan the lack of qualified candidates. “The digital revolution accelerated by the pandemic has only increased candidate expectations for seamless, exceptional talent experiences,” said Phenom CEO Mahe Bayireddi. “Companies that deliver the most personalized talent journeys will be at an advantage when competing for future employees.”

Whether you’re talking about “talent journeys” or “candidate experience,” how well candidates can interact with a system matters. Research by IBM showed that 38% of candidates who had a good experience were more likely to accept a job offer. Candidates who had a good experience are also more than twice as likely to want to be a company’s customer as those who had a poor one (53% compared to 25%).

During COVID-19, HR and recruiting teams that expanded their use of advanced technology were in a better position to (virtually) hire, grow their talent communities, upskill employees and reach talent goals, Phenom said.

Another company in the space, Hiretual in Mountain View, Calif., found in its own survey that the pandemic spurred a number of employers to do just that.

“While this digitization process has occurred organically over the past two decades, the onset of the pandemic greatly accelerated digitization in the recruitment space,” said the company’s 2021 Recruitment Outlook Report. “Expectedly, 99% of respondents found it necessary to digitize their team resources and tools over the past 12 months.”

While the Phenom report focused on the current state of candidate experience across the Fortune 500, the company pointed out that employers should be mindful of every key stakeholder experience in their process. The relationships among candidates, employees, recruiters and managers are all interconnected, it said, and neglecting even one can undermine an employer’s ability to hire, develop and retain talent.


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