Identifying talent using AI — Here’s how
March 9, 2020
Viktor Nordmark
Really, talent acquisition is a constant work of art. The HR department and recruitment team are in many ways responsible for building the foundation of a functional and operational business.
Your company is only as good as its employees, and as almost any professional responsible for acquiring talent will know, finding these perfect individuals is incredibly challenging

Because of this pain point, AI software built for recruitment purposes is aimed at solving it. In this guide, we’re going to explore how to find the right human capital for your business using this technology.

On finding the right talent for the job

So what does finding the right employee look like? Today, there are huge amounts of resources being spent on the hiring process. And unfortunately, it’s just as likely that the right talent is on the other side of the world as in the office across the street. For HR departments all over the world this means having to implement strategies to make the process from job listing to hiring more efficient and targeted.

A Hubert eBook  The next generation of candidate selection for volume hiring  Challenges in high-volume hiring need to be tackled in a deliberate way. This  is a guide on how to best handle the screening step Download eBook

The demand for human capital today

Human capital isn’t what it once was. Or rather — the need for it has changed considerably. With the fourth industrial revolution, we’ve seen industries go from almost 100 % people-manned to a 50 % technical automation potential already back in 2017. It’s not as simple as ‘Machines are taking our jobs,’ though. What has happened instead is that the demand for human talent with specialty skills and experiences has grown.

The simple jobs are automated — and so humans need to do the ones that are growing more and more complex. It goes without saying, then, that the hiring process needs to recruit more complex people, who are even more suited for whichever vacancy opens up. That puts unprecedented pressure on HR departments and recruiters everywhere. Essentially, it means that they need a near-bulletproof hiring process to avoid wasting resources.

The perfect job listing

The very first step to a seamless hiring process is the internal mapping out of what the company actually needs from the chosen candidate. No matter how good an employee is, it won’t matter if they’re not matched with the right work tasks and in-house expectations. As Einstein said, you cannot judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree. That’s why every HR department works closely with other business departments, in order to make sure they’re on top of the company’s specific resource needs.

It’s a continuous process of evaluation, re-thinking, and development — and it’s obviously affected by technological advancements. The job listing becomes the eventual sum of whom a perfect candidate is. It should contain specific and clear information about the work tasks the job entails; the social, professional and educational skills the candidate should possess; and details about the company and department that’s hiring.

Traditional talent acquisition vs. passive talent sourcing

Traditionally, once a job listing has been put down in writing, it’s published on multiple channels. The idea up until the past decade has exclusively been focused on attracting talent, through what’s called inbound applications. The talent sees the application, recognizes themselves in the description, and applies. Finally, the recruiter goes through these applications and begins the interview process. But because human talent is in such high demand nowadays, recruiters are also beginning to look towards what’s referred to as passive candidate sourcing.

A more commonly known word is headhunting; finding the perfect candidate among people who aren’t actively looking for work. Professional platforms like LinkedIn and Upwork are helping with the facilitation of this shift. But recruiters everywhere, whether they’re using the traditional or passive method (or both), are still struggling with their most precious resource: time.

How to find talent with AI

Automation is really the result of things needing to move faster — whether that’s production, creation or processing. In the case of finding talent, artificial intelligence assists HR professionals with their acquisition process. It’s a particularly beneficial tool in the early stages of candidate screening.

Identify the right talent shortlist

Traditional recruiting and passive talent sourcing have in common that their aim is to create a talent shortlist. Whether a recruitment team or AI software compiles this, the idea is still to have a handful of candidates that may be the right fit before the company starts spending resources on interviews. Identifying this group of people is a, oftentimes, challenging process.

Interestingly, it all comes down to that perfect job listing. If you know exactly what you want in the perfect employee, you also know exactly what you’re looking for in the shortlisted candidates. This is why it’s important to stick to your initial framework throughout the hiring process — to keep your eye on the target. It’s obviously important to have room for changes — perhaps the perfect applicant wasn’t exactly what you were expecting — but generally it makes most sense to follow the job listing guidelines.

Using AI for passive candidate sourcing

How AI works for talent acquisition is easy enough to understand when you think of it in terms of traditional recruiting. You feed the software with a stack of applications, and the AI compiles a shortlist for the recruiter. Essentially, the HR department can then skip the entire first stage of candidate screening. In the context of passive sourcing, AI tools can also be used to cut down time spent on the hiring process.

When done by a human, the recruiter starts by screening their networks, which often includes thousands of individuals, in search of the right candidate for a job they know is coming up. With artificial intelligence software positioned correctly, a substantial amount of this work can be automated. Instead of going through a possible applicant pool, the human recruiter would only have to reach out to the talent the AI has already selected according to the job description parameters.

A Hubert E-book  The next generation of candidate selection for volume hiring  Challenges in high volume hiring needs to be tackled in a deliberate way. Thus  is a guide on how to best handle the screening step Download E-book

Input, input, input

Just to be clear: AI does not equal magic, even if it at many times, may seem like it. An AI’s functionality, and the quality of this functionality, is dependent on its construction. At the core of this construction we find the input that the software is provided with and trained on. If you want to use artificial intelligence to make the company’s hiring process better long-term, the process has to be based on the right kind of information. That is, the parameters of the candidate screening process have to correspond with the company’s needs.

The good news is that when you’ve already created a thorough and clear job listing, you have the right data at hand. The only thing that’s really left is translating them into input that the AI can understand. Once everything is in place, it’s literally a matter of running through the candidates, and matching the shortlist with the job’s qualification specs.

The main benefits of using AI to find human capital

In essence, then, finding talent with AI is basically like finding it with human manpower — it just takes considerably less time. Here are the three biggest reasons for implementing artificial intelligence software as part of your recruitment process.

Artificial intelligence pre-empts human bias

One of the strongest and most important arguments for AI in HR context is that it helps limit human bias. Diversity and inclusion efforts are hitting human resources in a big way — but diversifying and including can be extremely challenging if bias isn’t addressed, too. Subconscious bias is particularly difficult in this sense as it’s an ingrained aspect of what it means to be human.

With talent screening using AI, human bias is drawn into the light. Even if it’s near-impossible to remove it completely, discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexuality is reduced considerably in the hiring process. Many platforms even make it possible to screen for diversity to ensure that the candidate shortlist is as varied as possible.

Human-to-human processes get the time they deserve

HR, whether it’s recruiting, evaluation or yearly reviews, is an incredibly time-consuming aspect of professional life. And the early stages of finding talent is arguably one of the most complex tasks within the field. For the recruiter, spending more time on actual human-to-human work is almost always preferred to screening resumes or LinkedIn profiles.

With AI, this becomes a reality. As screening is automated, substantial man hours are freed up and can be spent on those complex inter-relational tasks human resources really should be spent on. The recruiter can take their time with interviews, with the onboarding process, with new employee evaluation systems. Using AI for talent acquisition is kind of like using a calculator for math.

Implementation period

In addition to making an active hiring process easier, artificial intelligence also helps with data storage — for past, existing, and potential employees. Let’s say you’ve just completed a hiring process, and found a perfect fit for the job. During the course of the second-stage interviews, three other candidates stood out — but they weren’t chosen for the position. With AI, it’s a piece of cake to add these to the business’ talent library.

The result of this is that when time comes for the next hiring process, you’ve got somewhere to go from. Rather than starting from scratch, or screening through all the past shortlisted candidates, you can just pull them from your AI library. In this way, artificial intelligence software also contributes to long-term talent acquisition efforts, and helps build a stronger, fairer and more sustainable in-house HR department.


What is talent acquisition?

In human resources, talent acquisition is the process of finding, screening, and hiring employees for the company’s human capital needs.

How do you find the right talent for a job?

The best way to find the right fit for a vacancy is by being thorough in the early stages of the hiring process — ie, when you’re writing the job posting. The clearer this is, the easier it’ll be to find the right candidate.

What’s the difference between inbound and passive in recruiting?

Traditional recruiting is based on inbound applications. Here, people interested in a job listing they’ve seen forward their applications to the company hiring. Passive sourcing is when the recruiter actively seeks out talent that isn’t necessarily looking for work.

How can AI identify talent?

With strong programming and solid input, it becomes possible for artificial intelligence software to extract applicant information and so screen candidates for a job. If the information input is thorough and in line with the company needs, the AI can identify talent that the recruiter can then evaluate further in later stages of the hiring process.

What are the main benefits of using AI for talent acquisition?

  • AI removes human bias in the screening process
  • AI frees up time so the recruitment team can spend more time on human-to-human tasks
  • AI curates an evergreen and ever-growing data library of potential candidates for future employee needs

Identifying talent using AI — Here’s how
March 9, 2020
Viktor Nordmark
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