Will robots replace the recruiter?

It seems that every week brings fresh reports of another industry conquered by bots and Artificial Intelligence (AI), so how long before we at Hartigan are forced into a career change – one that will no doubt require us to engage one of the new “robo recruiters”?

Will robots replace the recruiter

It would be easy for us to dismiss robotics as entirely irrelevant to our industry, but there are two problems with that. First, there’s the unconvincing whiff of Mandy Rice-Davies Applies; and secondly, it’s facile to suggest that developments such as machine learning and predictive analytics have no benefits to offer the recruitment industry.

It’s obvious that automation can bring significant improvements for recruiters and the candidates they seek to place. From our side, we just have to think of the time spent sifting through LinkedIn and sheaves of CVs, a task that could certainly benefit from robotic assistance to find the right candidates for any particular role. We’d also like to see recruiters making greater use of bots and self-service options for answering common queries about invoices and contracts, for example – another profitless and time-consuming task.

But to rely entirely on robotics means dispensing with something that we know our candidates truly value: the human factor. Sure, CVs are important, but a jobseeker is more than just a collection of their skills, qualifications and experience. A good recruiter will consider dozens of other things ranging from an individual’s temperament, their cultural fit, preferred ways of working, how they come across at interview – even their sense of humour.

One of the benefits of robotics cited in the BBC link above is of an algorithm, which led one recruiter to send Java engineers for a role that required an Android programmer. The computer concluded that since Java and Android are similar technologies, a Java expert would soon be able to learn the necessary skills to perform the job.

If human recruiters cannot make that judgement themselves, then perhaps our industry is doomed, but recruiters should be able to make these conclusions for themselves. Yes, there are some recruiters who see themselves as mere ‘middlemen’ whose role is simply to supply relevant CVs to businesses; but candidates and employers both value the benefits of having personal relationships with recruiters who know their market, and take the time to match the right person to the right vacancy.

Ultimately, it’s not just about matching skills to job descriptions – it’s about placing a candidate in a job where they’ll be happy, thrive and grow.

We should never forget that recruitment is ultimately about people, and as such our job is more of an art than a science. Robo-recruiters are a long way from mastering the instinct that’s such an important part of the recruitment process.

Of course, the recruitment industry could do more to harness the power of robotics and AI where appropriate, but let’s never forget the importance of building and maintaining relationships.