AI reduces the need for humans in talent acquisition – TechTarget

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AI affects talent acquisition and has led to staff reductions, with more expected to follow. New data from Lighthouse Research & Advisory shows that approximately 40% of the 1,200 companies surveyed have fewer recruiters today than a few years ago, thanks to the adoption of AI tools.

Lighthouse’s 2024 Talent Acquisition Trends study findings, which also included a responses from 1,000 job candidates, align with trends observed in tech layoffs. Recruiters are often among the first to be let go as companies reduce their workforce. This suggests that even when tech industry hiring rebounds, the number of recruiting staff may not. About 60% of the 1,000 job candidates and two-thirds of the 1,200 companies surveyed were in North America.

At an online forum this week hosted by Lighthouse, Ben Eubanks, the firm’s chief research officer, noted that most job applicants use AI during the hiring process. These include systems that analyze Zoom interviews to provide immediate feedback and others that assist with job applications and resume tailoring to match specific job postings.

These candidate tools might help now, but they will make it that much harder for recruiters to review resumes when “they all start to look and sound the same,” Eubanks said. 

He added that he expects AI to reduce talent acquisition headcounts overall. Positions such as scheduling coordinators were the first to go, replaced by AI tools, and “are pretty much gone now,” he said. 

Despite AI’s growing capabilities, there is still room for human-engineered improvements. Sarah Faupel, IT talent acquisition department manager at Enterprise Mobility, which operates subsidiaries such as Alamo and Enterprise car rental brands, shared at the event how her company enhanced its hiring process.

By using a panel approach to interviews, rather than individual or team-based approaches, Enterprise Mobility achieved faster hiring times, Faupel said. The change improved candidate experiences, as applicants didn’t need to return for multiple interviews, she explained.

Good talent is hired quickly

“Good talent goes off the market really fast,” Faupel said, underscoring the importance of an efficient interviewing process.

But it took some effort to sell the idea of panel interviews, Faupel said. Some managers were slightly uncomfortable to use a team approach “when you’re used to hiring talent for your team.” But Enterprise Mobility conducted a pilot program and identified key stakeholders to serve as advocates for the change, she said.

Looking ahead, Eubanks said companies are increasingly using AI to source, match and screen candidates, focusing on automating the more transactional aspects of recruitment. However, he warned against overautomation, especially in more senior or skilled roles, emphasizing that AI can never replicate the totality of what a human can provide.

An algorithm can never be quite as connected or as engaging.
Ben EubanksChief research officer, Lighthouse Research & Advisory

An “algorithm can never be quite as connected or as engaging,” he said. 

Raj Mukherjee, executive vice president and general manager at career site Indeed, also spoke at the forum about its tool, Smart Sourcing. Launched this week, the tool uses AI to recommend candidates based on job requirements.

Smart Sourcing offers summaries that explain why a candidate fits a role, while also flagging those who might be overlooked due to factors such as having fewer years of experience than requested. According to Mukherjee, this feature aims to increase a candidate’s chances to apply.

Additionally, Mukherjee said Smart Sourcing seeks to address and mitigate common hiring biases. By valuing experience and skills over rigid qualifications like exact years of experience or specific degrees, the tool aims to support a more balanced and fair hiring process. 

Patrick Thibodeau is an editor at large for TechTarget Editorial who covers HCM and ERP technologies. He’s worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.

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