The Best of Both Worlds

Talent Trends

The latest 2018 Talent Trends report shows that HR is seeking a blend of high-tech and high-touch when it comes to AI deployment.

By Michel Stokvis

While they won’t sport bionic arms and legs, recruiters will be empowered like never before by technology that makes them smarter, more efficient, and more connected. The recruiter of the near future will be able to find the right talent with the push of a button and will possess the people skills to engage and convert top candidates into employees. And that’s not science fiction.

In fact, a lot of this type of innovation is already here. Tools to automate search and screening processes are growing smarter and more refined with each iteration. Candidate relationship management (CRM) platforms are like a Swiss army knife for talent leaders, automating many workflows and centralizing data for greater insights. Artificial intelligence (AI) is helping businesses personalize and customize candidate touchpoints to create memorable hiring journeys. People analytics deliver past performance data but also predict future talent needs. It’s easy to assume that life as a human capital leader will become easier. But maybe not.

This rapid and powerful transformation may not be a clear win-win. While technology is changing how business acquires talent, it’s also the great equalizer—competitors will have access to similar, if not the same, tools. This means technology alone won’t provide an edge. How organizations use it to accelerate people will. Randstad Sourceright’s 2018 Talent Trends research—which surveyed more than 800 C-suite and human capital leaders in 17 countries—confirms this. Tasks such as candidate database search (51 percent), tracking HR data/metrics (51 percent), the creation and management of HR analytics (51 percent), and the initial screening of candidates (49 percent) are the top four areas that talent leaders say should be mostly or completely automated. This isn’t surprising because technology can expedite these activities and provide value beyond what humans can deliver.

Randstad SourcerightOn the other hand, employers believe that people skills and the human touch are still important when it comes to other tasks. Down-selecting using video interviews (28 percent), interview scheduling of shortlisted candidates (27 percent), and engagement and management of talent communities (26 percent) are the top three functions that employers would like to be handled mostly by humans. That’s likely because each of these touchpoints provides another opportunity to reinforce personalization during the candidate journey.

It is worth noting, however, that the study shows mixed feelings about these top areas for human involvement. For instance, while 28 percent say they’d like candidate down-selection via video interviewing handled mostly by humans, nearly as many (26 percent) prefer the process to be mostly automated with limited human involvement. The same holds true for interview scheduling; 27 percent say they prefer humans to manage this process, while 28 percent would like to see the process mostly automated.

How much of the human touch is necessary depends on a number of factors, such as role types, urgency, volume, and more. For example, an employer may schedule interviews with top candidates personally for the value of direct connection, but prefer to schedule initial interviews for an entry-level position using technology to accelerate the process. In either case, automation can help free recruiters from spending time on low-value tasks, allowing them to create stronger bonds with hiring managers and candidates, and resulting in increased conversions.

Most of the survey respondents believe this as well. Sixty-eight percent say that knowledge workers will be freed up to do more advanced work and 66 percent believe that human workers will be more efficient, productive, and innovative. Sixty-five percent feel the candidate experience will be positively affected and smart technologies will open up new opportunities for talent. This outlook is further affirmed by 73 percent of human capital leaders who say that smart technologies will have as much, if not greater, influence on their organizations this year.


Michel Stokvis is managing director of the Randstad Sourceright Talent Innovation Center.

Posted October 24, 2018 in Enabling Technology

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