AI Roadmap for Recruiters and Sourcers

Recruiting Trench Warfare: AI Strategies for the Hardworking Talent Acquisition Pros

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Apr 2, 2024

Our executives are looking at AI with a mixture of hope and fear. They hope AI solves some age-old hiring problems, but they’re afraid it may solve them too well.

We’ve been discussing future-proofing recruiters in the face of automation for over a decade. This time, it looks like it may actually happen. If you’re seeing AI recruiting demos where AI sources, screens, schedules, and even negotiates with candidates, you know that many of your peers aren’t measuring up.

Have no fear—you’re not going to be replaced. Well, not if you can ride the wave instead of waiting for it to wash over you and drag you out to sea. But here are three areas you must focus on to stay relevant as a talent acquisition practitioner.

1. Learn your recruiting tech stack better than you ever have.

It doesn’t matter if you’re using ATS, Seekout, Workday, or Excel—whatever you are using—you have to get better at it. Don’t wait around for training, and don’t assume the training available will fit your needs. Carve out time in your day to practice your software.

You’re expected to produce to keep your job or get hired, and you can’t do that if you’re spending hours fixing a spreadsheet or manually searching the database. Admit your weaknesses and work to improve them. You’re not competing with the other recruiters—you’re competing against automation, and the only way to win is to know your system and your software inside out.

Be honest. Are you an expert? Strive to become one—the new analytics packages will make it easier to identify low performers. Make it your goal to continuously improve because it’s good for your career, not because you’re told to hit a KPI.

2. Use AI for learning and training.

I’ve been using large language models (LLMs) to quickly understand job titles, companies, and industries. The new LLMs are far superior to traditional search engines because you can ask them questions after they respond. Thus, you can make the results smarter or simpler, which means you can train and customize AI as a recruiting persona.

Furthermore, you can have AI summarize videos and pull transcripts and then ask it to show you the strong and weak points in someone’s statements. Once you’ve done that step, ask AI for a list of questions and expected answers.  This allows you to learn and train interviewing and screening techniques. Eventually, you become an expert, so you can now have those high-touch conversations with candidates and hiring managers you’ve always wanted. Remember, this isn’t a list of prompts—it’s learning to use AI to train you how you want to be trained.

3. Use AI and automation to look more professional.

It seems that new AI packages are released weekly, such as ways to build presentations, present resumes, and share results with hiring managers. Traditionally, we’ve just written notes and forwarded resumes, but the new packages allow you to be you to spruce it up like a marketer. Part of marketing is all about presentation and when recruiters think this way, their work looks better because we’re all judged on presentation.

Slapping a logo on a resume or forwarding a PDF instead of a Word document may seem the same as building a design template, but having control over what you’re showing is different. Remember those clear plastic binders you used for presentations in high school? If it looks good, people will think it is good, and that is one of your differentiators to hiring managers. So, get good at sharing data concisely and professionally using Custom GPTs, Canva, or Zapier.  Make those well-designed candidate submittals your secret weapon. Plus, you have the know-how on AI tools to make your work look great without a master’s in Photoshop.

But I don’t have the time!

The number of recruiters who have said this over the years would astound you. They can’t learn something new because they are too busy.

Well, your executives heard you – and they’re taking your workload off the table with automation. Then they’re cutting your headcount because you’ve spent years telling them you’re overwhelmed with what they perceive as simple tasks.

The first part of this series talked to Directors and Executives, and the most important point was to give their teams the time to learn and improve—to make the humans better. You have a role in that, too. You have to carve out time and work with your managers to organize your workflow, and you can start with a couple of common mistakes.

1. Use the basic version to source and write candidates.

This is going to seem strange, but the easy uses of AI aren’t the ones you should be excited about. If AI is writing your candidate communications and job descriptions, you’ll be tempted to let it do all the work. If it’s handing you candidates to “save time,” you’ll only get what it wants to give you.

If you let it do all the work for you, how long before you are automated away?

The basic versions of AI seem like time-savers, but human ability freezes at the level of automation. This means that if you don’t practice what makes you good at sourcing and recruiting, you’ll lose your edge. Have you ever been lost without a GPS? That’s dependence on software—which is fine until it’s not. If you can’t drive and count on Uber, you’re great until a hurricane forces you to evacuate.

Don’t let your essential communication and searching skills deteriorate.

2. Work yourself out of a job with insane productivity.

This is a problem for all of us. If you have 20 openings and close 15 in the first month, the company asks why it needs to keep you around the second month.

If you worked nights and weekends unpaid to knock those 15 out…

Some of these tools allow for insane productivity. Like, 10-50X if you get perfect. Why would you announce this? If I can get my job done in 2 hours instead of 40, why would a company pay me for 40?

I’m not saying sandbag or work less. I’m saying getting good takes time, and staying on top of your skills takes time. Take some of those productivity gains and plow that time back into the top three recommendations. Make it part of your workflow to practice, learn, test, and grow. This is ironically better for the company – if they think you can get the work done in two hours, they tend to make catastrophically wrong decisions like laying off all their recruiters, only to have to rehire six months later.

Be smart about how you work – and work with managers and companies that prize human excellence over short-term productivity gains.

AI Transformation

AI is changing the way we view work, and at the same time, a dozen other events are changing the nature of how we view jobs. You can’t fall for the hype, but you can’t fall into despair.

Do your best to prepare now – augment your skills before they are replaced.

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