Recruiting Leaders Your Future Is Dim – Guidelines For Your Transition Into AI

AI’s capability is so great that TA leaders that can’t drive the transition will be replaced.

Note: The goal of this short piece is to get TA leaders to plan for their transition into AI.

AI is currently dominating both national and business news, and that importance will persist for years to come. Just recently, leaders of all sectors – business, government, and the military – have realized the power of this software tool that drives “continuous improvement” at a rapid rate. Yes, AI (or, as I prefer to label it, machine learning) enables any organization to rapidly improve the performance of a process faster and to a performance level that has not been achievable with standard “human learning.”

The CEOs of leading innovative organizations, like Google, now expect their entire organization to become “an AI first company.” It’s reasonable to plan that this raised usage expectation will dominate literally every internal business function over the next five years. And, of course, the recruiting function will not be exempt from this AI expectation. So, if you, as a recurring leader, can’t deliver on this expectation, it might be time to begin seeking out a recruiting leadership job at a not-for-profit organization that will move slower on AI.

8 Guidelines For Recruiting Leaders That Are Driving The AI Transition

Once current recruiting leaders realize that their executives expect their function to be improving at a much more rapid rate as a result of AI, they will begin looking for a few simple guidelines or action steps to guide them. So you will find my top 8 guidelines for AI-focused recruiting leaders are listed in the section below, with the most impactful ones appearing first. However, if you need more “how-to” details on making the transition, activate one or more of the following links (business, recruiting, and sourcing). 

  • The #1 most essential step is transitioning into a data-driven function – In the simplest terms, AI produces its results by analyzing an unbelievable volume of data to identify the individual factors that are closely associated with your definition of success. This means that recruiting’s AI algorithm simply can’t operate without extensive data. As a first step, recruiting leaders will have to transition their mostly intuitive function into a data-driven one. Each individual recruiting process generates and captures extensive data that is then used to determine which of the many elements in recruiting (i.e., grades, experience) accurately predict new-hire performance. Before that can happen, recruiting leaders must finally decide on a precise, narrow definition of recruiting success (how much above average do new-hires in this job perform?).
  • You will need a strong business case for prioritization, funding, and support – Because all executives will expect recruiting and every other business function to make a rapid transition to AI, there will be intense competition for AI resources. If you expect to have sufficient funding for AI, as well as executive and hiring manager support, recruiting must become one of the highest priority functions. And in order to gain that priority, TA will need a strong, pretested initial business case as well as a process for continually updating that case in order to ensure that it maintains its effectiveness over time. The business case must focus on how AI will help recruiting improve its business outcomes (i.e., hiring faster, hiring better performers, and having enough AI talent for every internal business function). And finally, you will improve your chances of receiving the highest priority if you can gain the help of an internal “executive champion” to counter the other business arguments made by more prominent business functions. 
  • Continuous learning about AI terminology and tools will be critical – There’s no getting around it: AI and its many related fields are extremely heavy users of jargon, and, unfortunately, that jargon is constantly changing. TA leaders must realize that you simply won’t be credible when talking to others in AI if you are not currently up on the earliest emerging jargon and methods. So recruiting leaders must immediately begin setting aside sufficient time to read about and benchmark the best AI practices that are currently being implemented, as well as all new AI applications in recruiting. Rather than trying to do such a large volume of learning alone, I recommend that you put together your own virtual “AI informal learning group.” That freely shares what they have learned with the appropriate group members. You can further build your credibility by using your network to get at least some hands-on experience with the already implemented AI tools in recruiting.
  • Learn from your other business functions that took the lead in AI – You must accept the fact that both HR and recruiting are well behind every other business function in the race to transition to an AI-driven function. So rather than starting from scratch, the smart move for recruiting leaders is to work with and learn from the leaders of your other business functions. To see what you can learn from their AI experience. Or if you can adapt some of their already implemented tools to your recruiting needs.
  • Expect mega amounts of political resistance (Pardon me if I offend anyone but) My decades of experience have taught me to expect a great deal of powerful resistance to any significant change effort that moves away from an established recruiting practice. Expect that a great deal of resistance will come from those that work in HR, as well as your own recruiters. Begin to identify any potential resistance by surveying executives, hiring managers, and recruiters in order to identify the potential resistance areas from each group as well as which individual counter-arguments will be effective against them. Expect an extremely high amount of resistance from those working in HR, who will claim that AI is dehumanizing. But also from DEI, at least until you can show them that your process has no adverse impact. And when it comes to resistance from your own current recruiters, leaders must realize that you may have to offer your recruiters either job security options or a soft exit strategy for those recruiters that simply can’t or won’t support the transition.
  • Don’t confuse AI with most of the available recruiting technology – Unfortunately, for years now, most discussions of new recruiting technology have revolved around the administrative elements of recruiting. Meaning that the focus of these technology tools has been to make recruiting administration faster and cheaper. In direct contrast, AI is focused on improving business results by hiring individuals that perform better on the job. So not only are the two focus areas barely related, but it is a major misstep during this AI transition to give any priority to the cost-cutting focus of most currently offered recruiting technologies. And finally, recruiting leaders must be extremely cynical because many vendors that boast that their tool contains AI may not be telling the whole truth (because partial AI usage isn’t the same as AI-driven). 
  • Openly show your passion for AI – Initially, it might at first seem like a small thing, but the people I know that work in AI are almost cult-like. They share an extremely high level of passion for AI tools and those that build them. As a result, you should make it a goal to both develop and to openly share your own passion with others.
  • You must have the courage and the ability to stop doing dumb things – This last guideline might seem simple, but executing it really isn’t. Almost all recruiting leaders quickly realize that the best part of utilizing AI throughout recruiting is that all recruiting leaders will be able to identify a multitude of common recruiting elements that simply don’t work (i.e., they don’t predict whether a candidate will become a top performer on the job). However, even with data, I have unfortunately found that it is extremely difficult to get recruiters and hiring managers to stop using the current recruiting elements that you now know don’t work (i.e., grades, college attended, standard format interviews, and brainteaser interview questions). Unfortunately, simply making those that use these elements of recruiting aware of their ineffectiveness won’t be enough to get them the change (ask Google). Therefore, effective persuasion, close monitoring, or raw power will have to be exercised by modern recruiting leaders.
If you only do one thing – use your network or LinkedIn to find an effective recruiting function at a company outside of your industry. That has excelled in the adoption of AI (e.g., Amazon). Try to build a mutually beneficial relationship with a person in their TA AI team. And ask them if they would be willing to answer your questions and offer small suggestions as you develop your AI plans. And if another element of your recruiting effort is superior to theirs (i.e., employee referrals), try to make the relationship a more equal trade by sharing your best practices in recruiting areas where they still need help. 

Final Thoughts

Up until recently, it has been hard for many business, political, and recruiting leaders to realize how important that the implementation of AI will be in the broader world economy. But all leaders must realize that what Fast Company calls “The War For AI Talent” is, in fact, a global battle. That happened quickly after you noticed that Chinese leaders stated that the development of AI will be “the main driver of their economy.” And Vladimir Putin said that “the country that leads in artificial intelligence will rule the world.” So if you take a step back and look at the big picture, every recruiting leader should see that they have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dramatically increase their impact.

By developing an AI-driven recruiting process that is so effective that it provides your organization with a competitive advantage. One that will allow you to fill every open AI position quickly with top talent. So that your product development, sales, finance supply chain, HR, and marketing functions are the most effective in your industry. And those industry-leading impacts will be produced as a result of having a continuous pipeline of AI talent. And that talent pipeline will likely make AI recruiting the top global competitive advantage in all of business.

Author’s Note

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About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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