3 Staffing Executives Reveal Why Firms Should Embrace Automation

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Sep 4, 2017

Automation is one of the most hotly debated topics in recruiting, but no matter what firms believe, automation is igniting change.

According to our poll of 1,000 staffing professionals, 67 percent of them said automation will help to promote — not eliminate – top talent by relinquishing them of non-value-adding tasks such as scheduling and screening so they can grow their relationships. While myths about automation have certainly swirled in the industry, automation represents one of the trends in the future of staffing.

What’s driving the rise of automation, and how are firms planning to face this disruption? I spoke with three of our staffing-executive customers for their perspectives on how they see automation impacting the recruiting industry.

Automation Will Still Allow Plenty of Work for Humans

When Mark Eldridge first started working in staffing about 28 years ago, a candidate told him that the industry was tired and not adapting, signaling that the end was near. Over the course of Eldridge’s career, myths about job boards replacing agencies and LinkedIn abolishing recruiting emerged, so it’s not surprising to him that misconceptions about automation have also arose.

But for the now CEO of Andover, Massachusetts-based ALKU, automation can’t dispel human relationships because it doesn’t have the emotional intelligence that only humans possess. And people will always continue to do business with people who they not only like, but do a good job for them — something Eldridge said won’t ever dissolve in recruitment.

“Automation and artificial intelligence represent an adoption model that the industry needs to embrace,” Eldridge said. “It doesn’t replace recruiters, and it shouldn’t create fears amongst the industry.”

One of the major reasons why Eldridge believes that automation shouldn’t ignite industry-wide concern is because automation doesn’t replace “strategic-input” tasks such as formulating stronger relationships or analyzing data for deeper and more insightful trends. Automation can aid lower-level tasks to free up recruiters’ time so they can focus on higher-level initiatives that will yield more significant results.

“Automation will certainly change the workforce, but there’s still going to be plenty of work for humans to complete,” Eldridge said. “The scale and rise of automation will be quick, but the reach of it will take time. It’s an ongoing change.”

Automation Will Help Hire the Right Talent

At Atlanta-based MATRIX, incorporating automation capabilities into the recruiting cycle is a way for the firm to not only become more profitable, but also to increase workflow efficiencies.

“We’re embracing automation as much as we can,” says Justin Thomason, MATRIX regional director of recruiting. “It’s a way to become more efficient and drive more value for our customers and grow our business.”

Core to MATRIX’s business is its experienced recruiting team, which, Thomason said, will be difficult for automation to replace. That’s because his team has the skills and expertise to formulate strong relationships with candidates — an upper hand in crafting compelling messages that resonate and engage candidates. Automating that part of recruiting would dramatically hinder the candidate experience and the value it brings to customers.

“You have to understand your business and apply automation to where it’s most appropriate and where it’ll drive additional value,” Thomason said. “Some things may be good to automate, but others won’t make firms more effective or cost-efficient.”

For agencies looking to integrate automation strategies, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Thomason said firms must evaluate the areas where they already have a competitive advantage and apply automation to the areas where they can further increase their productivity and effectiveness. That way, firms can focus on the strategic tasks that they’re already good at and let automation support the capacities where they can become even stronger.

“Automation is great for our business,” Thomason said. “In the end, it’ll help companies hire more effectively, hire quicker, and hire the right talent.”

Automation Will Separate the Leaders from the Laggards  

The eHire recruiting team has been focusing on how automation will help increase its business and not thwart opportunities. Kyle Tothill, managing director and partner of the Atlanta-based firm, said automation will help his recruiters identify the right candidate for the right opportunity even faster because they won’t be spending hours reviewing a multitude of resumes.

“I envision a world where a recruiter comes into work in the morning and they received 50 candidates for a job overnight — and they already have 10 phone calls scheduled because automation has identified the 10 most-skilled candidates,” Tothill said. “We, as recruiting professionals, have a huge opportunity to become more efficient and productive. We need to take advantage of it.”

To take advantage of automation correctly, Tothill said firms will need to fully understand the technology behind it and invest in a strategic technology leadership team.

“This is a disruptive force,” Tothill said, noting that he’s has been eyeing the impact of automation for the past couple years. “We’re going to have disruptive capital. And the organizations that aren’t able to adopt automation will perish. They won’t be able to keep pace with their competition.”

But for the firms that will be able to get ahead of their competition, automation will help them grow their businesses by breaking one of the traditional agency-growth models of increasing business by adding headcount.

“The real winners are going to quickly embrace automation by adapting their business strategies so they can understand the real power behind the data that automation will illuminate,” Tothill said. “If those firms can do so, they’ll be ones that will achieve greater effectiveness and will create more desirable candidate and customer experiences.”


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