What Mercer’s Newest Study Reveals About AI in Recruiting

It's time to explore AI's role in recruiting and start addressing adoption barriers

Article main image
Mar 26, 2024

The promise of AI in recruiting feels like a double-edged sword: effortless, AI-driven hiring on one side and fears of a depersonalized process on the other. But how far behind are organizations when it comes to effectively adopting AI?

A new study conducted by Mercer on over 500 HR executives, talent acquisition specialists, and operational hiring managers gives a real look at AI’s influence on talent acquisition strategies.

The organizations surveyed were incredibly diverse. They varied significantly in size and industries — from small businesses with fewer than 100 employees in healthcare to large multinational manufacturing corporations boasting workforces in the tens of thousands. This wide-reaching survey spanned across the globe as well.

With such a diverse participant base, the findings offer a panoramic view of AI’s role in modern recruiting practices across different business environments and cultural contexts.

The Major Findings: Sourcing, EVP, and AI Integration Challenges and Barriers

So, what did this new research find? In short, we’re still in the early days of AI adoption. Here are a few highlights.

  • AI’s Role in Sourcing Talent: In the study, 38% of respondents said they used AI primarily to source and engage candidates, aiming to build a robust talent pipeline. Employer-centric finding and matching are reshaping how companies approach sourcing and incorporating it into their processes.
  • Boosting Employer Value Proposition: A kind-of-surprising 26% of companies use AI to help candidates find their perfect job match. This candidate-centric approach can not only streamline the hiring process but also improve conversion and appeal. We also see that companies are using AI to ensure people get responses to questions or scheduling interviews on their timelines.
  • Integration Hurdles: Despite talent acquisition and HR enthusiasm for AI, only 14% of organizations have seamlessly integrated it into their talent acquisition tech stack. There are also some doubters as well. More than 40% have no plans to adopt AI in their recruiting efforts, highlighting skepticism or a lack of use case.
  • Barriers to Adoption: The roadblocks? A lack of system integration tops the list at 47%, which is followed closely by a general misunderstanding of the tools’ effectiveness (38%) and a lack of knowledge about the latest recruiting technologies (36%).

Given these insights, it’s clear that while AI is impacting recruiting, widespread, effective adoption is still far off.

What Should Recruiting Leaders Take Away From This?

As we sift through the findings of Mercer’s study, three critical takeaways stand out.

  1. Embrace AI as a Dual Force. I’ll say it again: AI isn’t just a tool for employers to streamline processes and squeeze every bit of efficiency out of hiring. It can equally be a candidate’s ally and something that enhances the experience. This dual nature of AI, improving both the employer value proposition and the candidate experience, signifies a shift towards more balanced, efficient, and personalized recruitment strategies. Organizations that recognize and harness both aspects of AI’s capability will attract top talent.
  2. Overcoming Adoption Barriers is Crucial. The significant hurdles in AI adoption—system integration, understanding tool efficacy, compliance with laws, and knowledge gaps—highlight an urgent need for education and strategic planning in technology implementation. For AI to truly take root and offer its full benefits, organizations must prioritize overcoming these obstacles through targeted training, partnerships with tech providers, collaboration with legal teams, and a commitment to digital transformation.
  3. A Strategic, Informed Approach Wins. Starting to integrate AI without a clear strategy or understanding of its potential and pitfalls will ultimately sink TA’s efforts to bring these new technologies into their organizations. The research suggests that a thoughtful, informed approach—grounded in real-world data and a very good understanding of AI’s capabilities—will be key to successful, long-term use of these tools. Organizations that take the time to educate themselves and strategically plan their AI initiatives will be better positioned to leverage this technology effectively.

Charting the Future of AI in Recruiting

I’ve talked to talent acquisition leaders who feel like they are falling behind in using AI. Given that recruiting is often on the leading edge of technology adoption, it doesn’t make that forever FOMO feeling go away easily.

But this research offers a clear picture of just how early AI is when you look at the big picture. There’s still time to explore AI’s dual role, address adoption barriers, and take a strategic, thoughtful approach to adding AI to the mix.

Get articles like this
in your inbox
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting articles about talent acquisition emailed weekly!