The Death of Recruiting by AI – It’s About Time

February 20. 2017. 5 mins read
Table of contents

If you’ve spent any meaningful amount of time in a corporate managerial role, you’ll know that people who get away with adding little or no value to a firm, are often placed at the same level as those who add real value to a firm. In other words, not all titles in a corporation perform the same across departments. More likely than not, the “Regional Head of Talent Management” is not going to have the same intellectual firepower as your “Regional Head of Equity Research”. People don’t like to admit that, but it’s usually true.

Departments like “HR”, “Corporate Services”, “Talent Management”, and “Recruiting” generally add less real value in comparison to the other departments that design the product, build the product, sell the product, etc. It’s only going to be a matter of time before we start to look at applying artificial intelligence (AI) to these “soft skills” areas of the business because frankly, engineers who have had to put up with work closely alongside these departments over the years are ready to exact a bit of revenge and make some money while doing so.

This is kind of like when you’re going to tell a joke that’s a bit edgy to a group of people you don’t know so well so you feel the need to caveat it with “well I have loads of friends that are XYZ” as a way to somehow excuse what comes next. We have lots of recruiters that we’re friends with, that have helped land us jobs, and who we go out with after work for drinks. You know who you are and we love you as individuals, but the truth is that the work you do has something in common with the below jobs:

  • Car Salesman
  • Realtors
  • Public Relations
  • That Dude in The Nightclub Bathroom Trying to Dry Your Hands

What these roles all have in common is that they’re all trying to get a piece of your hard-earned dollars by forcibly interjecting themselves into a transaction that is going to take place anyway so they can take a cut of it by offering you some sort of “value”. In the case of car salesmen, they should no longer exist. Every single bit of information you need about a vehicle is now out there in the public domain. Real estate agents, same thing. PR people, you know what we’re getting at here. Which brings us to recruiters. Now that LinkedIn is the world’s public database of CVs that anyone can peruse, what information value is being offered by recruiters that we couldn’t get “John” in Mumbai to do? And we all know that John in Mumbai is now being replaced by Amelia.

Astute readers will note that in an article titled “9 Artificial Intelligence Applications That Won’t Work“, we said that artificial intelligence (AI) would never be applied to recruiting. Well, here’s what we actually said:

Recruiting – It will only be a matter of time before some recruiting firm decides they’re going to start using AI to “better search the human capital pool to help you win the war on talent”. Don’t buy it. There are a very limited set of white collar workers to match to a very limited set of jobs and it doesn’t take artificial intelligence to do so effectively.

What we meant by that is it seems highly unlikely that some recruiting firm is going to nail a successful implementation of AI to improve their jobs. Recruitment is notorious for adopting lackadaisical IT solutions because they don’t know any better. Ever use Workday? What will happen is that tech startups will deliver with effective AI solutions and all these “boutique” recruitment firms (where the only qualification to start one is that you can fog a mirror) will start to lose out on all those exorbitant recruiting fees they were raking in to find tech people. Why? Because who better to identify hard tech skills than an artificial intelligence algorithm. Not to mention, how nice would it be if AI was kind enough to email you after an interview?

You may just start getting emails after an interview and this time they’re not coming from Amelia but Mya, another nice innocuous name for the new recruiting lady who isn’t a lady at all. No, not like that. It’s just that she’s actually an artificial intelligence recruiting assistant. Here are the things that Mya is good at:

So pretty much Mya does everything that traditional recruiting has failed at, and then goes ahead and automates 75% of the qualify and engagement process? The two most important parts of recruiting? If you’re a recruiting department and you adopt this solution, there is no way you’re all making it through to the next Christmas party. Mya is being developed by a startup called FirstJob which has taken in $3 million in funding so far. While the CEO of FirstJob was a frustrated technical recruiter in his past life, the CTO has an engineering background, so yeah, the best of both worlds.

Really though, how much “artificial intelligence” do you need to email someone back after a job interview? It shouldn’t take AI to make us extend a common courtesy to our fellow man. While maybe you could argue this is more “HR automation” than “AI” , who cares about semantics if it saves 75% of your time.

While Mya plies her trade in recruitment departments around the globe, she is certainly not alone. HR automation has been around for a while now which is just another way of saying “business process automation applied to human resources“. Hire a few cognitive computing engineers and have them give your HR automation solution a fresh coat of AI paint and now you’re changing your website to say “artificial intelligence applied to HR automation”. Then we’ll probably write about you and you’ll get some free publicity.

That’s why we’re sounding the alarm in advance. Don’t necessarily believe what’s on the tin. This was the root of our original comment on this topic. AI will never actually be a viable substitute to traditional HR software automation unless experienced engineers can use AI to reinvent the traditional recruitment process. That’s what we’re looking forward to. Of course, by that time, there may be no jobs left to recruit for.


Does this mean recruiting is a lost cause? Not at all. Someone needs to hire for HR, corporate services, talent management… and recruiting. All those soft skills jobs will be around for a while. But as the eternal march towards cost cutting continues and the constant pilgrimage to the land of efficiency progresses, you can expect that “real talent” is finally going to be selected in a manner that makes sense. Then once we see how effective AI is in recruiting our best and brightest, we’re going to use it to hire everyone. The “war for talent” is finally coming to an end, and there are going to be some casualties in recruiting.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  1. I agree. The Death of Recruiters is near. Here is my YouTube video if you want to check it out. Finally….the Death of the Recruiters http://bit.ly/2CYR078 #recruitment #recruiters #recruitmentmarketing #recruitmentagency #indeed.com