Recruiters vs. AI – Who Will Win?

3D human head with data bits. Artificial intelligence concept.

Recruiters vs. AI – Who Will Win?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a hot button in the recruiting industry in recent years. But how does this affect the future of recruiting? Granted, it’s a major disruptor. Most recruiters would probably agree that it provides invaluable support in shortlisting and qualifying candidates. But can it ever really replace what we do?

In assessing the usefulness of AI vs. its inherent flaws, we came up with a few reasons why AI will not be likely to replace human recruiters, now or in the foreseeable future. Here are our thoughts on this controversial topic as it affects the recruiting industry:

No Matter How Smart It Is, A Machine Will Never Be Able to Build A Relationship with A Candidate

Recruiters are effective at building relationships over time: relationships with candidates, with clients, with the industry at large. A machine cannot express excitement and it cannot “want” a candidate to get the position they are up for. It does not have an opinion, nor can it form one, so will never be able to express an opinion about a particular candidate to a client. It takes time to build a personal relationship and AI just hasn’t the capacity to do so, at least not enough to be able to make a difference in the process. Gone would be the gut feelings, the instinct, the knowing that the client/candidate relationship would be a good fit. Conversely, think of the times a candidate looked great on paper, but you knew they would not be a good cultural fit? AI cannot gauge culture, personality, or ethics unless it is represented by a metric of some sort.

AI Can’t Sell

AI does what it does based on algorithms, picking up on things like relevant skills, experience, and education leveraged from a candidate’s CV. It takes a human, however, to be able to sell an opportunity or to sell a candidate to a client. AI is not persuasive; it is black or white, yes or no. Many recruiters cite the experience of having a candidate say “no” to a potential job but ended up taking a chance because they trusted the recruiter, only to find that their initial impressions were misplaced. Bottom line: AI doesn’t think outside the box. AI doesn’t see potential. AI does not and will not sell.

AI Is Not Influential to The Process

A machine can only go on what it is programmed to do, which is to identify candidates based on a set of criteria. What it cannot and will not do is to work closely with a client to better understand their expectations and business needs. This process alone may broaden the scope of the search and help to narrow down the right candidate. AI is simply there to tick boxes and to not color outside the lines.

AI Doesn’t Love Its Job

Even though AI functions well within the parameters of what it was designed to do, what makes a recruiter successful is the passion they have for the process and for the job they do. It is the genuine caring that recruiters have for their jobs that makes them successful and AI can never replace that.

The Recruitment Industry Is About People

While AI does what it does based on data alone, recruitment is dependent on the human touch. As a result, human recruiters can never be replaced entirely. AI can match up a client’s specific needs with individuals who meet certain conditions, but it will never be able to map out a candidate’s career trajectory based purely on data. Because of this, a recruiter will always have a hand in the process.

What do you think about the role AI might play in your future?

Has AI been helpful in identifying appropriate candidates?

Have you given any thought as to how technology will affect your future?

Are you concerned about being made redundant by AI?

For more insights on how AI and machine learning technology might be good or bad for your career, bookmark this page and follow us on social media.

Common Hiring Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Woman and Man shaking hands at job interview in an office

Common Hiring Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

We’re all human. Therefore, we’re bound to make mistakes. When you’re a new manager, these mistakes can easily come back to bite you. You’re taking on a lot: you’re managing your team, you are recruiting, hiring, and training. With a workload like that, you’ve got an uphill battle.

In any HR environment, there is always a lot of pressure to get it right the first time. Any missteps cost the company in more ways than you can count. Managers can be particularly susceptible to hiring mistakes because they are often the sole contact throughout the process.

It’s always a good idea to take a broad look at what you’re doing. Consider how your actions will affect all stakeholders and don’t just think about yourself. Granted, getting the job done quickly is the ultimate goal, but the best hiring managers take their time and involve others at every point in the process.

Here are some hiring tips from the pros for new managers:

1. Don’t believe everything you read on paper

Your first point of contact is going to be a candidate’s cover letter, resume or CV. While these items are an important part of the introduction, they can be deceiving. You simply can’t make an accurate judgment about somebody based on their CV. In fact, more than 46 percent of candidates pad out their CVs or even outright lie. Even if you see some big names and big claims on the resume, don’t just take them at face value. Let the candidate prove their worth through your discussions.

2. Shortlist your applicants

Having a larger pool to choose from might be tempting, but if you’re interviewing a lot of people who you know probably won’t work out, cut your losses. After all, your time is valuable too. Some dangers to the “more is more” philosophy include that you might simply forget who’s who after 30 interviews and start relying on resumes to remind you and it won’t help you find the right person any faster. Shoot to interview no more than eight or nine candidates at a time. That will make it easier for you to refine the process if indeed you didn’t find your ideal hire in the first round.

3. Be aware of the eye-glaze factor

Any good hiring manager should be able to articulate a company’s mission and vision, its values, its goals and where it’s headed in the future. You need to be able to get this point across to the candidate, but keep in mind that when you’re talking, the candidate isn’t. The interview should be a chance for you to get to know a potential new hire. While you are engaged with them, take the opportunity to walk them around the office. Introduce them to people and let them get a better understanding of what they might experience when working there. Not only will you become more aware of how they interact with other people, they will get a good feel for the culture and their place in it. Letting your interviewee do the talking will always reveal more.

4. Ask the right questions

You’re going to ask a lot of questions, so make them count. Broad questions lead to broad answers, so if you really want to learn more about a person, think about what you want to ask in advance. Think about the experience and skills they need to have. Think about soft skills that every applicant in every position will need to possess. Instead of asking direct questions, ask them to describe scenarios that demonstrate skills you require. For instance, you might set up a scenario and ask them how they would handle it. Or, ask them to describe a technical situation where they were able to turn a negative into a positive.

5. Trust your gut

In retrospect, with regard to most of the bad decisions we make, we can say that we knew it wasn’t going to work out. This is true in about 99 percent of situations. Trust your first instinct, it’s almost always dead on. While it’s never a good idea to make snap judgments about anybody, if you have an instinct that somebody is not going to work out in a job it’s better to act on it sooner than after you’ve already committed time and resources to the hire. However, if you have made a mistake and you know it, don’t hesitate: try to make it right as quickly as possible. Everybody makes mistakes, we are all human, after all.

In conclusion, if you are in charge of hiring for your small company, you might feel a lot of pressure to get the job done quickly and rush through the process. Keep in mind that this is never the best course of action to take and it may cost you more in the end.

Have any questions or comments about the hiring process? Contact Pact and Partners today.

How Negative Employee Reviews Can Hurt Your Recruitment Efforts

Woman's hands with coffee cup, typing review feedback on laptop

How Negative Employee Reviews Can Hurt Your Recruitment Effort

Ratings and reviews are the insignias of our age: we all love to tell the world about the places we like to go, the things we like to do, the music we love, the sentiments we approve of. More importantly, we love to talk about what we don’t like about these things, whether it’s about how our meal tasted, what our sandwich looked like or how we were treated.

Nothing is exempt, it seems. Restaurants, medical clinics, mechanics — they’re all fair game. We may feel good about supporting the businesses we love, but we seem to enjoy giving them a dressing down even more. Posting a bad review allows us to prove that we have skin in the game. We flex our consumer-muscle and show the rest of the world (and the unsuspecting business) that our voice matters — because it does.

In fact, a recent study found that 97 percent of consumers read online reviews, and 85 percent of them trust these reviews more than a recommendation from a friend. Positive reviews help build trust in a company and a whopping 49 percent of customers say that they look for a minimum of 4-star review averages before they purchase.

Unfortunately, professional organizations are not exempt from this trend, nor are employers in any industry. Job seekers today are actively using Glassdoor as part of their search to help them develop opinions about companies, to research salaries, and to find out about what it’s like to work there. Once they are on the other side of the fence, they also want to share their experiences so that others may be better informed.

In 2014, it was estimated that about half of all job seekers used Glassdoor. Now, the number is closer to 90 percent. Somewhere between one third and one-half of all candidates that use the service report that they won’t even consider an employer if they have less than a three-star rating, so it’s easy to see how these black marks can tank your chances of landing quality talent during the recruitment process.

And Glassdoor is not the only platform you have to worry about. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Medium, Indeed — just about anywhere on the web that you can post can be a forum for poor experiences, each one a veritable hotbed of heated discussion with the potential to tank your good name. While the reviews aren’t always bad, occasionally, a particularly dreadful one will go viral and bring a barrage of negativity raining down so badly that it will affect a company’s profitability as well as their reputation.

It would seem that a person scorned is ready and willing to do as much damage as they can. Once the word is out, the domino effect of bad press could make an already challenging recruiting landscape even more difficult. If attracting top talent is a priority — and in the highly competitive landscape of life sciences, talent is arguably everything — it is more important than ever that you do everything you can to protect your brand and your reputation.

This means taking a page from some of the most successful brands in the consumer marketplace: make sure negative reviews don’t get a chance to happen.

How Negative Reviews Affect Your Recruitment Process

Here are some recent statistics for you to consider:

  • 61 percent of job seekers will visit a company’s online properties (social media, websites, reviews sites) before they apply for a job
  • 55 percent say that if they read a negative review it would prevent them from applying
  • Job seekers will give more credence to the opinions of other job seekers than they do the company

It would seem that if there appears to be a trend of negative feedback, a candidate will move on to the next company.

While most review sites allow you to respond to comments, in some situations there likely isn’t a whole lot you can say to position yourself as the hero. For instance, if you get eviscerated in a review by a former employee who was terminated for cause, it would probably not look great for you to clarify the situation too much, even if it was true. By law, personnel files are confidential, and you could get your company into a world of trouble by responding to their scathing review by saying “Mr. Brown was let go because he was lazy and never finished his work,” you might be setting yourself up for a libel suit or worse.

It’s a double-standard for sure, but even though they’ve done their best to make you look bad, there’s not a lot you can say in rebuttal. That said, deciding not to respond can have consequences as well. You must choose your responses carefully and consider the letter of the law as well as any privacy issues.

Is It Legal? Or Is It Libel?

On some social platforms, such as Facebook, for instance, negative reviews can be removed because you control the page and its content. However, sites like Glassdoor can be more difficult to change as the comments are largely anonymous. If the comments are damaging and untrue, you do have recourse, but sometimes the process can take months and by then, the damage may be done.

On the other hand, people have the legal right to complain about working conditions and rights violations and if they choose to do so in a public forum or on the web, they are free to do so. If, however, these points are at issue, you have a much bigger problem than just a rogue employee.


Being Proactive About Online Reviews

Policies around online posting are far easier to enforce when the person is still in your employ. Once they are gone, you lose that control so the best thing you can do is to stop bad situations from happening in the first place. An ounce of prevention could stop a bad situation from becoming worse for everybody.

Paying attention to negative posts is a good start but trying to make sure that they don’t happen in the first place is really the best policy.

Some things you can do include:

  • Carefully monitor all of your web properties, including social sites, recruiting sites, and review sites
  • Make sure identifying negative employee posts are top of mind for your HR team
  • If you can attribute the post to a current employee, ask them nicely to take the post down while you make an effort to address their concerns through the proper channels
  • Don’t argue the veracity of the post
  • Try to resolve the issue by appealing to their sense of fairness
  • Be sure that they know their comments are damaging them, and if they no longer work for the company, their former colleagues
  • If this doesn’t make a difference, appeal to their former co-workers to speak to them directly. They may not have a sense of how they are causing damage unless they can put a face to it. There aren’t many people who are OK with causing their friends any grief
  • Don’t shy away from legal action if the post is damaging. Consult with an attorney first, but a cease-and-desist is usually the first course of action
  • If a damaging post gains traction or becomes viral, consider releasing a statement that refutes and addresses the issues raised but does not state any personal details

Establish a Company Policy

Protecting your brand begins with the establishment of a company policy around brand protection. You should set forth clear guidelines that prevent employees from posting negative remarks or comments that are contrary to your values and culture.

Here is an example of how you might word this policy:

“As a matter of courtesy and respect for your fellow colleagues, all employees are expected to voice any concerns about their jobs, job description, working conditions, other employees, and management to their direct supervisor, manager or human resources department. Posting grievances that relate to the company or your job anywhere on the internet, including social media channels or review sites, is not a productive activity as it does not adequately address or remedy these concerns. Posting about such matters in a public forum while employed by this company may result in disciplinary action or termination depending on how severe the situation is deemed to be. We recognize that all employees have a right to free speech, we will review all comments on an individual basis and will address each situation as needed. Employees who have been terminated will be invited to discuss any such issues during the exit interview process so that they can be dealt with appropriately. Complaints posted online, either during the course of employment or after termination, will be subjected to the reference check process, meaning that such behavior will be included in references given to future employers.”

Though you do want to avoid getting into an online war with a former employee, giving them fair warning that there will be consequences may give them pause. In this case, you would not be violating their privacy because the posts would be widely available online and so not private.

In conclusion

Most of your employees will understand that negative statements online don’t just make the company look bad, they make them look bad too.

A good example of this would be an individual who took to the web to complain about her salary as well as the company she was working for. She was fired the same day the post went live and even though she may have had a very good point about her salary’s disparity, it came off as petty, immature, and whiny.

Had she addressed the situation through the proper channels, she may have had a different response. She certainly wouldn’t have had to endure the public shaming that ensued or the embarrassment of losing her job because she was unable to get her message across to the people who could have instigated the much-needed change.

On the HR side of the discussion, most hiring managers agree that a candidate that bad-mouths their former companies or employees comes off as immature, discriminatory, and shows a lack of judgment. If these traits are visible from the start, it is only likely to get worse over time.

In the case of being asked for a reference to support a former employee who was known to engage in negative discussions about your company, don’t hesitate to reveal that the individual was involved in such activities. You are under no obligation divulge the nature of the comments and can leave it up to the new employer to do the research and find out for themselves, but it is your responsibility to protect your company’s reputation.

As for the employee, you should always make sure that they have access to the outlets they need to discuss any pressing concerns before they get out of control. If they don’t take you up on it, be sure you have the right safeguards in place to help you maintain your position in case of an unfortunate incident.

How to Negotiate Salary Without Asking About Salary Expectations

Employee signing a contract

How to Negotiate Salary Without Asking About Salary Expectations

Asking about salary history during the hiring process is actually illegal in some states. Not astonishingly, this means that when it comes time to make an offer, there might be some surprises.

The need to get in line with the rules has, however, fueled some interesting and progressive initiatives from some of the world’s biggest companies.

Amazon, for instance, is planning to hire in excess of 100K new employees this year to power up new locations in the United States. Hiring managers will not be asking for a previous salary, no matter what state regulations might apply. Meant to level the playing field, there are some that feel this will be harmful to some groups — especially women.

Is the Salary Disclosure Law Limiting Us?

Without the ability to negotiate or push back when a disparity is identified, candidates might be at a disadvantage. When it comes time to finalize the offer, this approach might derail the entire process, wasting a great deal of time and effort and causing a ripple effect of frustration from HR right up to the C-Suite.

If we can all agree that there’s got to be a better way, let’s look at what we know:

  1. As a hiring manager, you can’t talk about salary history.
  2. If you don’t talk about salary, everybody will be surprised at the end of the recruiting process.

How to Negotiate Without Asking About a Potential Candidate’s Salary

At the offer stage, many companies will make a standard offer based either on what the job pays or on the current marketplace. This removes the negotiation process, which at times must be competitive if you are to win the talent you need.

Here’s a way of gauging how your candidate might respond to your offer without asking for specifics: frame a salary range into a hypothetical situation to gauge their amenability. You might say something like “If we were to decide that we wanted to bring you on board, the offer might be in the range of 80K to 100K. In your opinion, is this a range that you might consider?”

You have put the question to them in a hypothetical manner and have not asked about their salary history. It’s a simple yes-or-no question that they are not required to elaborate on. You can then listen to their response and observe their physical reactions to get a sense of which way they are leaning.

By employing this technique, you have put your cards on the table and you have left some room to negotiate. Using this method, you have discovered much about where you and your candidate stand. You have neither broken any rules nor put anybody in an uncomfortable position. It is a flexible yet quantitative method that simply requires a slightly different technique than you might be used to.

In the end, you are still responsible for ensuring equal pay for women, minorities, and other protected groups. That doesn’t mean, however, that each candidate should have access to the same pay regardless of their experience and skill level. This method allows you to work within the parameters of the law while accomplishing your hiring goals.