The Unlikely Key to Fully Humanizing Hiring

Ironically, it’s not humans.

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Feb 26, 2024

Imagine a world of talent acquisition without the internet. Picture the stacks of paper resumes; the landline calls to reach out to people or arrange interviews, and the detailed process of manually filtering through candidate information. It might be easy to imagine for some of you, but it seems almost impossible for most to think about getting any work done in such an environment.

My time in recruiting started in the age of fax machines and newspaper advertisements, so I understand it. I still remember making the case to my boss about posting jobs in the paper’s online version and then later on to CareerBuilder and Monster.

Yet, for most of its history, recruiting was done without any help from the internet. The digital revolution transformed talent acquisition into a more streamlined, efficient, and accessible process. It’s easier than ever to apply for a job — and most of us sit under a digital stack of resumes that’s a little less daunting.

Putting recruiters in a time machine and sending them back 25 years would require such massive retraining that it would hardly be the same job. But what if, in the near future, we look back at our current trepidations about AI in hiring with the same perspective? More importantly, what if we saw AI as the critical moment when we realized a vision for a fully humanized hiring process?

Stoking Fears of Dehumanization

The integration of AI has the potential to transform recruitment, but while almost every organization uses some layers of automation, only 25% of recruiting organizations are using any generative AI in their talent acquisition process today.

With every wave of innovation, there’s a natural worry that technology will push us toward a more impersonal, inhumane world. This fear of AI is particularly visceral, thanks in no small part to pop culture references like Terminator or The Matrix, where evolved machines decide humanity is more trouble than it’s worth. These cinematic nightmares paint a stark, binary picture of AI: us vs. them, human vs. machine, with no room for coexistence.

But strip away a good Hollywood story, and the reality of AI in the workplace is far less dramatic (and possibly more promising). Experts in AI and machine learning have consistently argued that, at least in the near term, AI technologies are better suited as companions and enhancers to human effort rather than outright replacements. The nuanced truth is that humanity still has a clear, unshakable place in the world, even in fields like recruitment, which are ripe for AI integration and enhancement.

Creating Space for Humanity

AI’s role in hiring shouldn’t be about relegating human interaction to the background. But, it should be about amplifying what makes a uniquely human hiring experience and not eliminating grunt work or administrative tasks that keep you from connecting with candidates.

For example, with the rise of skills-based hiring, AI can help people understand how to apply their existing skills in new and novel ways while exploring new job opportunities. It can offer a level of personalization at scale that would ensure every person you meet during the hiring process knows your background and the types of questions to ask for a better experience. AI could also make the hiring experience more accessible, offering voice- and text-assisted applications that can make hiring inclusive.

While it’s not wise to trust AI to make hiring decisions, could it be deployed to make hiring decisions better? Job interviews are notoriously unreliable and offer the most variability in the hiring process. AI could assist in making these conversations a great experience every time (and possibly even help look for or consider signs of bias and discrimination).

Far from depersonalizing, AI could empower recruiters to focus on the human aspect of their role — building connections, understanding candidates on a deeper level, and crafting teams that thrive not just on paper but in real collaborative environments.

Opening the Door for a Human Future

The fear of dehumanization in the face of AI is a natural response to the unknown. It’s a reflection of our collective anxiety about change and the future. But just like the internet revolutionized recruiting in ways we now take for granted, AI promises to humanize the hiring process further.

To sum it up, AI as a tool to enhance rather than replace the human elements of hiring opens the door to a future where talent acquisition is more efficient, empathetic, and personal. The real challenge lies not in the technology itself but in our ability to integrate it into our processes in a way that respects and enhances our humanity.

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