The future of job hunting: More Spotify, less Craigslist

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are poised to shake up the job search market -- and maybe even make it a little fun

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Nobody looks forward to a job hunt.

Anyone who has ever hit Craigslist or knows what fun lies in store: hours upon hours of prowling through hundreds of job listings to find a handful that might be relevant or promising, and hours upon hours of revising resumes and drafting cover letters. Dozens of emails and inquiries that go unreturned, interviews that fall through, and companies that disappoint. A new job hunt is the highlight of everyone’s year—if the rest of the year consists solely of root canals, stubbed toes and breakups.

The process is not much better for the people on the other side of the equation—recruiters—who find themselves on the receiving end of hundreds of resumes and cover letters, only a minority of which will yield remotely suitable candidates. It’s a painful, boring, inefficient slog.

Luckily, as is true in many aspects of our modern life, it’s artificial intelligence and machine learning to the rescue.

I spoke with Jerome Ternynck, founder and CEO of SmartRecruiters, and Robin Haak, founder and managing director of Jobspotting, the acquisition that jump-started SmartRecruiters’ AI effort. Here’s what they had to say about “recruiting AI” and the improvements we have to look forward to.

AI could make job hunting fun (or at least palatable)

Job hunters and talent acquisition teams face a revised future: Recruiters will post jobs and publish them (through a single portal) to job boards around the web. The job seeker will get results delivered directly to them—but only those that are actually relevant to their skills and ideal job parameters. The recruiters, meanwhile, will get a couple hundred candidates, which AI will then assess and sort, highlighting the top 10 best fits for the job, the company and the team.

“Seventy percent of professionals don’t engage in active job searching online because the system is such an impersonalized and tedious time sink,” explained Haak, who helped build a recruiter AI platform. He added: “There is no good system for matching, no transparency, no market insights and a horrible user interface. The same is true for the recruiter—the process is time-consuming, with no opportunity for branding and no analytics. Furthermore, it’s expensive, and there’s no way to target the right candidates. Recruiting AI will change all of this.”

Human beings are not typically tuned to perform boring, repetitive tasks. Computers, on the other hand, are designed with an endless capacity for repetitive computations. In such cases of high-volume recruiting for professions with clearly defined skill sets, machines can help recruiters to be more efficient and productive.

“Computers are unbeatable at long, boring, repetitive tasks,” said Ternynck. “Sorting through hundreds of job listings or, in the case of the recruiter, hundreds of prospective candidates are perfect examples of this. But humans are still much better at assessing things like personality or cultural fit. So the first thing that AI will do is make the whole process of job hunting and recruiting less boring and inefficient, allowing human recruiters and job hunters to focus on the more human elements of the process.”

‘Recruiting AI’—Spotify for your job hunt or recruiting effort

Just like Spotify and Netflix use your past ratings and purchasing decisions to determine what future songs or movies you might be interested in, AI will use similar algorithms to suggest jobs to job seekers and candidates to recruiters. Instead of inefficient keyword searches that have governed the process so far, new recruiting technology will be able to learn from each action a recruiter or job hunter takes to suggest matches they might actually be interested in.

So how does this technology work? Ternynck explained, “The recruiting AI will ‘smart’ screen candidates for recruiters and job listings for job seekers, automatically analyzing, scoring and ranking incoming resumes and jobs based on both hard and soft skills. Through dynamic recommendations and smart feedback loops, the technology will also suggest other candidates and job openings, enabling recruiters and job hunters to find what they’re looking for. For recruiters, the technology will also examine job openings to find other jobs suitable for a potential candidate, improving sourcing across the organization. Suitable internal candidates will also be identified. Lastly, the technology will market job opportunities, analyzing jobs and making suggestions to improve the reach and quality of incoming resumes. Recruiters will be able to go beyond their existing talent pool to seek out new potential hires through a job seeker-side recommendation engine—a candidate portal which matches people to new jobs and directly targets likely candidates.”

AI could even take it a step further, using data from social networks to know when a potential candidate might be coming back on the market or when a current employee might be getting ready to leave their current position.

Can AI help eliminate hiring bias?

It has been shown that, in spite of their best efforts to the contrary, humans are really bad at keeping bias out of their hiring decisions. Just look at Google’s self-deprecating admissions--from a company with hiring practices that have yielded a workforce with only 9 percent non-white, non-Asian employees.

Machines, however, can be impartial, with no biases regarding candidates’ backgrounds, genders or anything else. This is another way that recruiting AI will make things better: predictive analytics will blindly determine which candidates best fit a specific job, thus creating a more diverse and effective workforce.

Recruiting AI will boost the global GDP? That’s what the experts say

According to McKinsey, online talent platforms could boost the global GDP by $2.7 trillion by 2025 and increase employment by 72 million full-time equivalent positions.

Why? Because the improved utility and efficiency of matching technologies will see more people finding new jobs or jobs that are a better fit.

“In today’s digital world, hiring is more important than it’s ever been,” said Haak. “Finding and recruiting top talent is a number one priority for every CEO, but up until very recently, existing systems have been extremely flawed and inefficient. Luckily, artificial intelligence and machine learning will help us level up. This will benefit recruiters, job hunters, the global economy, hiring diversity—everything. These are exciting times indeed.”

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