Is AI Stealing All The Entry Level Recruiter Jobs? The Surprising Truth.

It's a familiar refrain on LinkedIn and in articles alike: the boogeyman (AI) is coming for your jobs.

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Apr 23, 2024

It’s a familiar refrain on LinkedIn and in articles alike: the boogeyman (AI) is coming for your jobs. As I’ve argued in this column since the first whiffs of Gen AI came to light, the reality for most jobs isn’t so much an apocalyptic scenario as a shift in responsibilities. Yes, AI is changing how things are done, particularly at the entry-level, where it’s streamlining processes that used to be manual and mundane.

If you think back to your first job in recruiting, what did you do? If you were in the industry before online applications were a thing, you probably spent a lot of time sifting through and organizing resumes and scheduling interviews via phone. You might’ve done the same thing with digital tools if you’re newer. You might’ve been on the frontlines of answering candidate questions, whether it was via phone call or email. And if you didn’t have a recruiting assistant or coordinator to help you with these tasks, you probably wanted one.

These tasks are prime examples of the grunt work that AI can handle efficiently, freeing up recruiters for more complex activities. According to McKinsey, about 30% of all work activities could be automated by 2030. A recent article from TechTarget shared data from Lighthouse Research & Advisory that shows approximately 40% of the 1,200 companies they surveyed have fewer recruiters today than they did a few years ago. They cited AI as the culprit.

And honestly, that’s fine. We can’t stop innovation simply because we want to keep some of the most mundane jobs. But the shift raises a critical question: if the entry rungs of the career ladder are automated, what does the new pathway look like for aspiring recruiters?

For displaced entry-level recruiting talent today

With people in line to be displaced by AI, dismissing them as cost-saving measures might be easy. But if you’re like many recruiters who came from those positions early in their careers, it’s hard to swallow that you might be losing the very people you’ll need to recruit in the future.

The first thing we should be looking at is training and development. Are some of your people ready for that next step? Does the use of AI change what might be necessary to be a great recruiter today? Professional development is useful for new and existing recruiting talent today, and it’s the first thing that organizations should look at when getting started.

While technical skills are needed in recruiting, developing soft skills and strategic thinking will be incredibly important for the next generation of recruiters. Soft skills like persuasive communication, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence can all be developed. Understanding human behavior, organizational needs, and the long-term strategy needed to win with talent is critical as well. All of those skills are indispensable for recruiters and difficult for generative AI to replicate.

Finally, and maybe a little ironically, there could very well be new jobs that use AI as assistive tools for talent acquisition or management tasks. These tools can’t run independently and need a human partner with organizational insight and data to work.

Where will the next generation of recruiters come from?

The first place would be to look at other entry-level professions with complementary skills. For instance, those in customer service and sales have honed communication and relationship-building skills that AI can’t replicate. These professions offer a pool of potential talent who can pivot their careers toward recruitment, bringing with them a wealth of interpersonal skills and experience.

Internships or apprenticeships could also work if structured correctly. By working closely with seasoned recruiters on strategic tasks—such as crafting employer branding strategies or engaging in complex candidate negotiations—interns can gain critical insights and develop skills that AI cannot automate.

Although formal education institutions like colleges and universities hold promise, a more targeted education might be a better answer. Imagine a targeted set of courses offered that educated people on the knowledge, ethics, and soft skills necessary to be a successful recruiter in months rather than a four-year degree.  Recruitment certification courses do exist, but these would be focused on bridging the gap.

Recruiting remains a fundamentally human-led function.

Despite the rapid advancement of AI in the recruitment sector, the essence of recruiting remains deeply human. That means we’ll need people in the future and clear paths for people to follow if they are interested in being recruiters.

Strategic decision-making, empathy, and a nuanced understanding of organizational culture and candidate fit are aspects that AI cannot fully replicate. As we move forward, it’s clear that AI will serve as a tool to enhance, not replace, the fundamental human elements of recruiting. By embracing innovative training and development strategies, we can ensure that new talent is prepared to use AI and enhance the recruitment process with their uniquely human capabilities.

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