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Automation Will Transform Your Sourcing Strategies This Year

At its best, programmatic technology can free up recruiters' time, uncover insights, and help them make better-informed hiring decisions that positively impact an organizations' ROI. Instead of wasting time on the day-to-day tasks, recruiters' can instead focus on brainstorming, engaging candidates, and planning the next "big thing" for their strategic sourcing.

According to the latest ServiceNow Survey, the coming year is expected to be a defining moment for all types of automation. The majority of surveyed companies have already introduced automation and nearly half of executives who responded said that they intend to use it more extensively than in years past. Increased use of automation will continue to impact every function of HR, especially affecting trends in talent acquisition.

Not only does automation help us perform better at our jobs, but it also makes our lives easier and reduces our stress, helping us to rest assured that we are working as efficiently as we can and that our candidate qualification efforts are having a positive effect thanks to real-time recruiting analytics.

The following article aims to describe how automation is revamping the recruitment practice through data technology, telepresence, and even robotics. We will also offer a few immediately attainable steps you can take right away to integrate advanced automation into your recruiting practice and to make 2018 a game-changing year.

How Recruiters Use Automation Now

With candidate volume on the upswing and the ever-mounting pressure for recruiters to meet KPIs, talent acquisition decision-makers are tasked with maintaining the quality of their hires while moving talent down the pipeline fast enough to achieve their time-to-fill goals. According to a blog post on Ideal.com, recruitment automation is currently being used most commonly in the following contexts:

  • Screening resumes en masse through AI-enabled software
  • Pre-qualifying candidates via chatbots
  • Automating interviews through pre-recorded video platforms

Many candidates and recruiters express a mutual desire for a more "human" interview experience. However, an unexpected benefit of automation is that it can serve that very purpose by helping recruiters and hiring managers to hone their skills in candidate engagement and focus on building a better employer brand instead of getting carried away by trivial tasks.

Creating an Applicant Funnel

While we often hear about sales funnels, one of the most significant ways that automation can be used is for creating applicant funnels or talent funnels. Successful recruiting is a well-choreographed series of actions to attract the most qualified talent and narrow them down to the candidate or candidates who are ideal for the role. To create the best pipelines of talent, savvy recruiters are turning toward automated tech solutions. Here are some of the ways that automation can help drive healthier talent pipelines.

  • Attracting potential talent with targeted ads, landing pages, texts, or triggered emails
  • Pop-up application boxes to open job application pages on the employer's website
  • Having a human filter the best applications (sorted by AI) to filter qualified applicants

Limitations of Automation

Automation can be an effective means of helping decision-makers save time by only pursuing the most skilled talent, but it does have a few limitations. According to PwC's US Business Leadership in the World 2017 survey, about 45% of the tasks currently being performed by humans could be done more efficiently by automation or robotics, reducing headcounts and providing about USD 2 trillion in global savings to businesses.

Here are a few tips for leveraging automation in recruiting, while still keeping it personalized:

  • Add a fun, lively twist to automated messages. For example, instead of just having it say, "We have received your application.", go for something with a friendlier tone that fits your company's culture.
  • Add multiple, personalized touchpoints, starting with the application acceptance email and continuing through the recruiting process.
  • Know when face-time is needed to make that human connection. However, this can also be done through video interviewing -- keeping it personal while saving on travel and other overhead costs.

Yes, the cost-savings and efficiency that automation provides are impressive. However, like all technology, it does have its drawbacks and limitations. Forward-thinking recruiters should also understand that there is a time to take recruiting offline and put the human element back into it. From auto-generated responses to application submissions to invitations to interviews, there are several ways that recruiters can personalize the automated talent acquisition experience.

Related:  Artificial Intelligence: A Game-Changer for the Recruitment Process

Getting the C-Suite Onboard

Now that we've talked about the applications, benefits, and liabilities of automation, many of you are probably wondering how you can make a compelling business case for it. The recruitment and retention of top talent will continue to pose the greatest challenges for HR if they cannot win solid backing from those who are higher in the chain of command.

The good news is that the HR Trendcast 2017 survey indicated that in the next five years, there will be a significant increase in how much money is invested in people and data, including "small data" which is information that can immediately be put to use with minimal processing. While HR and recruiting are sometimes overlooked by boards regarding how they allocate resources and advocacy, there are several ways to gain consensus from leadership if you are trying to improve your automation-driven strategic sourcing in the coming year.

SHRM recommends the following steps to get the C-suite on board with a new automation initiative:

  • Pitch from their perspective: Understand their preferences and pain points and make sure that you address them in any business case you present. Present the bottom line dollar savings you intend to bring or a projected increase in revenue. Sometimes HR falls short by presenting softer benefits like "increased productivity" or "reduced turnover." While these metrics are valid to recruiters and talent managers, they need to be tied to a dollar value.
  • Be timely: Recruiters hoping to sell leadership on technology are wise to have a good sense of timing. When you pitch can be as important as how you pitch. At the time of your pitch, business conditions should be conducive to an increase in budget.
  • Be ready to compromise: Understand that if they increase your technology budget, that you may have to give something up. Are you willing to decrease the size of your staff or switch to contracted help to support you? Chances are, that with proper automation, this may be an attractive bargain anyway.
  • Build partnerships and advocacy: Partnering across functions is one of the most crucial aspects of an effective C-suite pitch. Find advocates and champions on the board, and also in different functions like IT and marketing to help you make your automated recruiting initiative succeed.

The Future of Automation

Looking at how automation is serving recruiters and hiring managers now, it's also enlightening to further explore what future projections are. According to McKinsey & Company's Automation, "Employment, and Productivity Survey," automation is advancing rapidly, and those who adopt it the earliest, are more likely to outperform others in their industry. Automation will create competitive advantages and make it so that companies have to raise their game just to keep up. It will also demand new skills from workers while exposing organizational weaknesses that require problem-solving.

A Fortune article details how well-established, multinational companies and startups alike are already starting to use AI-driven facial recognition technology in video interviews to track interviewees' expressions for better analytics as well as uncovering important insights such as the following:

"A study by AI company Fama found that pictures of drinking on social accounts don't imply bad job performance. Such photos are so common that screening for them means eliminating huge swaths of people. By contrast, bigoted comments or posts about drugs were linked to subpar performance."

This idea is interesting to consider with the current climate where diversity and inclusion are more relevant than many other needs. AI technology could help us make better-informed but less discriminatory hiring decisions, helping us to unlock untold swaths of hidden talent, cut recruiting costs, save time while improving retention and other KPIs.

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Recruiting Brief Human Resources Today

Carole Oldroyd

Carole Oldroyd is a writer and graphic artist living in East Tennessee. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle, LegalZoom, and numerous other magazines, websites and blogs. When she isn’t writing, she can be found restoring her historic Victorian home piece by piece.

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