Winning the war for talent starts with AI
As the global talent shortage becomes increasingly apparent, and organizations double-down on new strategies to attract the best of the best from an increasingly small pool, can artificial intelligence break the deadlock and elevate recruitment to new heights?
From technological advancements and the effects of the Great Resignation to new ways of working and near-record inflation, today, a variety of factors have come together to produce the most significant talent shortage in history.
Research suggests that if we continue our current trajectory, the global talent shortage could reach 85 million people by 2030.
Left unchecked, by 2030 that talent shortage could result in a global revenue loss of $8.5 trillion each year.
The war for talent has never been more costly.
Fortunately, HR leaders around the world are acutely aware of the situation; after all, the events of the past few years have forced them to rethink the employee experiences they deliver.
Despite this awareness, many still rely on the old talent playbook — a playbook which no longer works, nor appeals to the tastes of the modern workforce.
The truth is that people want more ‘human’ experiences from those they work for — experiences that acknowledge their needs, expectations, and values. This means saying goodbye to a one-size-fits-all approach and instead personalizing every aspect of the recruitment process at scale.
Ultimately, what humans are telling us is that they want choice. If we’re willing to redesign the way we do work, we can get the talent and get the work done and do it on our employees’ terms, which leads to better outcomes…
— Tim Ryan, Chairman, PwC U.S.
Historically, achieving this level of intricacy has been a problem, but thanks to new, cutting-edge digital technologies, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), we’re entering a new phase of candidate and employee experience.
AI technology — the great enabler
Imagine for a moment you have an assistant called Kieran.
Keiran automatically schedules interviews, screens resumes without a hint of bias, identifies the best candidates, searches job boards to surface new talent, captures key metrics from exit interviews to show you where to improve, and even delivers personalized messages and answers to every candidate.
There’s just one thing: Kieran is a robot.
Now, the most common narrative around AI right now is that it’s “stealing our jobs.”
But that sentiment couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Up until now, AI has operated predominantly on autopilot. In the future, AI will work alongside all of us to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and help consolidate tech.
We’re already seeing the adoption of AI en masse — according to the IDC’s Future of Work 2022 research, this year, 60% of global 2000 businesses will deploy AI and machine learning (ML) tools to support the entire employee life cycle experience.
By 2024, the authors predict that 80% of the global 2000 organizations will use AI/ML-enabled “managers” to hire, fire and train employees.
Digital technologies, particularly AI, present a real, scalable way for organizations to rebuild and rethink their approach to talent acquisition, and most importantly: connect with candidates in deeper and more meaningful ways.
Having an assistant like Kieran means that HR professionals spend less time on administrative tasks and screening, and more time getting to know candidates, conducting engaging interviews, and devising strategies that attract the very best. Also, AI-based tools encourage users to acquire new skills so that they can use them effectively.
And this is just one simple use case. For example, imagine for a moment that you can capture every piece of feedback and/or commentary about your organization on every social media channel or jobsite. This includes what candidates love about your hiring processes and what they hate, to how they’re feeling about the job market and what they’re looking for.
You can then use AI-based tools to analyze this rich information, uncovering critical areas of opportunity (e.g. providing more real-time communication throughout the candidate experience), sentiment (e.g. how candidates feel about your brand overall), and failure. You could even assess candidate data (including CVs, social media profiles and online behavior) to predict which candidates are most likely to be successful in the role.
Also, what if you wanted to offer the best benefits and compensation packages to attract high-quality candidates? No problem. Kieran will cross-reference benefits and compensation packages from competitors across the internet to provide a baseline for your organization to work from.
All of this ensures that you can take a data-driven approach to the experiences you deliver.
Winning the war for talent
AI is just one part of a multifaceted approach to beating the competition for talent.
By now, you’re all familiar with the strategies and concepts offered by consultancies and experts alike, so I’d like to offer some different advice:
1. Change your perspective
My father always used to say to me: “If humans can think it, they can do it.” For the then 13-year-old me, I wouldn’t have believed for a moment that AI would become an integral part of our daily lives.
Across the globe, everyone’s finding new and interesting ways to use these cutting-edge capabilities to create amazing experiences. But as much as organizations need AI, they also need to alter their perspective to make it work.
All of this is to say that AI isn’t a magic fix. It doesn’t instantaneously solve business challenges or ensure success. It does, however, put you on the right path.
As our understanding and AI maturity grows, it’s important that we think carefully about how we’re using the technology at every opportunity.
2. Act with empathy
Right now, we’ve got this incredible array of talent — from the digitally savvy who have risen through the chaos of the past few years to those who know how to make these emerging solutions work in the right way.
But more often than not, organizations are guilty of letting great talent walk away.
For example, arduous recruitment cycles can leave candidates exhausted and anxious. AI-based capabilities can streamline the vast majority of that process, getting the right people in front of the hiring manager(s) as soon as possible, without any kind of unconscious discrimination.
Sometimes candidates are absolutely perfect on paper, but hiring managers want someone with a bit more experience — or they fail to keep in touch with candidates who could fit perfectly into the team in the future.
With AI assistants plugged into an applicant tracking system, no candidate is left behind as they can routinely check in with them or set a reminder for HR professionals to revisit.
3. Consider impact, communicate change
AI is one of the most-cited technological solutions that organizations plan to use over the next few years (with McKinsey research stating that 40% of its survey respondents plan to increase their investment in it due to generative AI), but just how many of those organizations have considered its impact on potential candidates and roles?
For example, just because it works for other organizations or in other industries, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can deploy the same strategy, step for step. You might find that the candidates you engage with want to speak to a human at specific stages, or want a hiring manager — rather than a robot — to review their CV.
In essence, it’s vital that you pick and choose where, when and how you deploy AI capabilities to ensure you’re improving outcomes, not diminishing experiences.
Can technology make businesses more human?
When you think about all the signals that go unnoticed throughout any recruitment process — candidates leaving comments on forums, expressing their feelings on social media — it’s simply not practical nor scalable to ask hiring teams to manually keep up with them.
By using AI to automatically listen to and analyze this information, hiring teams can get much-needed insight into how candidates feel at every stage of their experience.
Over time, AI will become an integral component for every organization, helping to uncover recruitment trends, opportunities, and challenges that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
And as the gaps are closed, hiring teams can build better experiences for every single candidate, and attract the right kind of people.
AI isn’t about replacing the human-to-human element, it’s about enriching it with valuable data. Data that will — in time — change the tide in the war for talent.
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