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The AI-Driven Future of Talent Acquisition and Development

By Tim Guleri - Managing Partner, Sierra Ventures

Tim Guleri - Managing Partner, Sierra Ventures

Artificial intelligence isn’t new to HR. But there’s certainly never been a better time to embrace it.

Big changes are afoot across the industry, especially since the talent landscape has been drastically altered. In the wake of the pandemic, almost every company is going through an HR transformation due to business model changes and new skills required. At the same time, employees are re-evaluating what’s really important to them in a job as hot button issues like diversity and inclusion seek resolution.

As an early-stage investor, I see how important the adoption of new technologies is to the success of a company. While organizations grapple with the increasing challenge to solve complicated issues with less overhead, the need for technology with super-human speed and intel has become more critical than ever. The differentiating factor between companies that embrace technology instead of resist it? Understanding how technology will continue to evolve to meet current and future HR demands.

Massively Increasing Productivity

From supporting recruiting teams with rapid sourcing and screening of candidates to enabling the rehiring and redistribution of employees, many organizations are finally looking to AI technology as the answer to their talent challenges.

From a productivity perspective, it’s easy to see why. A recent report showed that nearly half of recruiters surveyed spend most of their work week—at least 30 hours—on sourcing alone.

Artificial intelligence can help expedite talent acquisition by sourcing, screening, engaging, and discovering best-fit candidates in a fraction of the time.

Here’s how it works. AI-powered career sites automatically personalize the candidate experience to help deliver the right job to the right candidate at the right time.

“AI-powered career sites automatically personalize the candidate experience to help deliver the right job to the right candidate at the right time”

Recruiting chatbots also help recruiters connect candidates with the right job faster by delivering tailored job recommendations, scheduling interviews, and answering FAQs 24/7 when most teams are unavailable. In addition to alleviating transactional duties so talent acquisition professionals can dedicate more time to complex skills and areas, chatbots are proving their weight in gold with valuable leads. In fact, according to a 2020 benchmark report by Phenom, an AI-powered talent experience management platform, 95% more job seekers become leads on career sites with a chatbot than those without, and 40% more complete an application.

On the back end, AI helps recruiters discover their most qualified talent by assigning fit scores based on skills and experience, ultimately cutting down on the time it takes to sort through current and past applicant talent pools.

Reducing Bias Throughout the Talent Journey

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is top of mind for HR right now, especially as current events turn the spotlight on bias—and whether or not AI can help or hurt.

Bias, of course, exists at every step in the candidate journey—from the moment a candidate reads a job description, to their first day at an organization. The role of AI is to qualify people the right way in order to reduce bias as much as possible. Then, it becomes the recruiter’s responsibility to ensure candidates are treated fairly and equally.

Fit scoring, for example, not only enables recruiters to find best-fit talent quickly, it also helps reduce bias while sourcing. AI assigns scores based on factors such as skills and experience required for the job—rather than information like where they went to college or the town they reside in—and presents candidates that meet that criteria. In the future, AI might also be able to mask details such as name and gender to further reduce bias.

AI can also give guidance to talent management by analyzing talent data and trends in hiring, providing management with much-needed clarity on where they stand from a diversity standpoint—and help identify areas that could benefit from more diverse sourcing of talent.

To truly implement DEI, however, HR tech must be able to evolve and keep up with change. AI technology that incorporates feedback loops enable it to learn from the data it collects and improve the predictions it makes over time. In this case, AI could help HR take a more proactive role when it comes to DEI by identifying additional candidate details that should be hidden during early stages in the recruiting process.

Fostering Agility and Flexibility

Agility and flexibility are crucial right now—and many organizations are wondering how they can use the talent they already have to fill critical roles, some of which never even existed before (think temperature screeners and contact tracers).

AI technology that taps into a company's internal talent marketplace can efficiently match employees to suitable positions based on their current skills and fit score, enabling employers to swiftly fill gaps for in-demand areas. For example, front-desk receptionists who are used to deftly managing challenging patrons are often an ideal fit for championing social distancing protocols.

In addition to helping employers redistribute existing employees from stagnant areas of business, AI can also empower employees with upskilling and learning and development opportunities. By identifying an employee’s current and emerging skills—as well as any skills gaps—technology can match employees with project-based “gig” work to give them the targeted, tactical experience they need to progress. The benefits are multifold. Employees get to pursue their interests and develop necessary skill sets while the business cultivates the agility required to persevere.

From a long-term perspective, the same capabilities of skills gap analysis and fit scoring can support the complexities of career pathing and succession planning to future-proof your workplace.

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