Employers Aren’t All That Interested in Artificial Intelligence (Yet)

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Jan 15, 2018

For all the talk and commentary dedicated to artificial intelligence in our industry, you’d think adoption and interest would be hockey-sticking to the moon. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. So says a new report by LinkedIn.

According to the survey, only 35 percent of recruiters deemed AI as “very or extremely important,” while a meager 8 percent of respondents said they had “completely or mostly adopted” the technology trend.

“Admittedly, [AI] is one of the trends that everybody talks about but very few companies or professionals understand its impact or what it really means,” Maria Ignatova wrote in a blog post. Ignatova is global content marketing lead, thought leadership and insights at LinkedIn.

Don’t mistake low numbers as a busted trend, however.

“The truth is that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has taken a strong foothold in recruiting and will likely continue to take over some of the more repetitive aspects of your job,” added Ignatova. “For example, there is already software that lets you automate candidate searches and quickly find prospects that match your criteria. Other technology can help you screen these candidates before you even speak to them. Chatbots can respond to candidate questions so you don’t have to.”

As far as which activities will see the most impact from AI, LinkedIn’s survey says sourcing candidates (58 percent), screening candidates (56 percent), nurturing candidates (55 percent), scheduling candidates (43 percent), and engaging candidates (24 percent) will see the biggest changes. Interviewing candidates via AI, in contrast, came in at a modest 6 percent on impact, so the process of humans ultimately hiring other humans seems safe at the moment.

“Based on all this, could a robot do your job?,” asked Ignatova. “Sure, parts of it. But AI replacing you altogether isn’t happening, and there is little concern it will. Only 14 percent of talent acquisition professionals think that AI will take away their jobs, according to our survey.”

The report also highlighted which recruiting skills AI is least likely to cannibalize. They also reveal which countries cite AI as the top trend affecting how they hire. The top three countries are China (47 percent), South Africa (41 percent) and Turkey (39 percent).

Trends enjoying a lot more love in LinkedIn’s survey include 1) diversity, 2) new interviewing tools, and 3) data. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said diversity was very/extremely important, with 53 percent saying they had mostly/completely adopted the trend. New interviewing tools got the silver medal, 56 percent saying it was very/extremely important, 18 percent saying they had mostly/completely adopted. Data was a split of 50 percent “important” and 18 percent “adopted.”

On diversity, the Linkedin report broke down the reasons employers are embracing this trend. Seventy-eight percent said it was “to improve culture,” while 62 percent said the main reason was “to improve company performance. Forty-nine percent are embracing diversity “to better represent customers.”

“However, when it comes to fostering diversity, very few organizations have cracked the code,” said Ignatova. “Despite all of the buzz, most companies still fall short of their goals and the public’s expectations.” LinkedIn says this may be a problem of perception. Many female engineers and black product managers exist, for example, but companies may not be looking in the right places. “The next-biggest challenge is retaining those diverse hires once they get hired,” they added. Thirty-eight percent said finding diverse candidates to interview was their biggest challenge.

Reinventing the interview was a bit of a surprise, especially if we’re talking trends, but nonetheless there seems to be a real appetite for improving the activity as old as help wanted sign. LinkedIn’s survey says a new age interview process is emerging to solve the problems with traditional job interviews.

Sixty-three percent of talent acquisition heads find the biggest problems with interviewing techniques are assessing candidate soft skills, while 57 percent said understanding candidate weaknesses was paramount, and 42 percent said interviewer bias. New interviewing techniques are gaining favor as ways to augment traditional interviews, but adoption is still early. The top five are soft skills assessments (59 percent), job auditions (54 percent), meeting in casual settings (53 percent), virtual reality assessments (28 percent), and video interviews (18 percent). Wait, video interviewing is considered a “new interviewing technique”?

Data, a red-hot topic a few years ago, occupied third place of the four trends. My guess is it’ll be lapped by AI in next year’s report. Nevertheless, LinkedIn found today’s era of talent intelligence is a big step forward, as it’s allowing recruiting professionals to use data to influence the strategic direction of their companies and elevate their own careers.

Specifically, about half of participating employers see data analytics as critical to the future of hiring, but consistent usage still isn’t widespread. Fifty-six percent of companies use data are to increase retention, 50 percent evaluate skills gaps with data, and 50 percent use deep learning to build better offers. LinkedIn’s report also identified some of the barriers to using data, globally, and which countries say data is the top trend impacting how they hire. Mexico was first at 61 percent, Brazil second at 59 percent and China/India at 56 percent are in the lead.

For those currently or looking to service the recruitment industry, this report is gold. Innovation around interviewing, data, and AI all have significant gaps between importance and adoption. While diversity is pretty mature, the other three are wide open to ready to christen the industry’s next billion-dollar companies.

LinkedIn said the four trends were identified based on numerous expert interviews and a survey of 9,000 talent leaders and hiring managers across the globe.

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