October 5, 2018

How AI Complements — Not Replaces — Sourcers

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Worried about being replaced by AI in your sourcing job? Given the current media narrative surrounding AI, I would be, too.

AI has become a foreboding presence in many fields, but it seems to pose a particular threat to sourcers and other recruiting professionals. AI can complete many manual sourcing tasks in less time and with fewer errors than a human sourcer. Does this mean an end to human sourcers entirely?

Despite the promises of AI champions, countless jobs remain vacant, and many employers still struggle with sourcing, engaging, and hiring talented candidates. Handing the process off to AI wouldn’t fully solve these problems. After all, AI may be able to surface and sort candidates, but it can’t create the kind of solid talent acquisition strategies needed to direct the hiring process in the first place.

As it stands, at least for now, AI can’t fully replace human sourcers. What it can do, however, is complement them, creating a more effective experience for talent acquisition pros, candidates, and employers.

1. AI Automates Tasks, But It Can’t Build Relationships

The best thing about AI-enabled recruiting technology is that it can automate the more repetitive tasks of the recruitment process. For example, some AI software can source quality candidates across social media platforms in a matter of minutes, using powerful algorithms to identify the signs of candidates who are likely to be a good fit for an open role. Similarly, chatbots can answer candidates’ common questions about a role and even conduct basic, high-level screening conversations.

But does all of that make human sourcers obsolete?

Not in the slightest. What AI really does is free sourcers from mundane tasks so they can focus on more intensive work, like building relationships with candidates and creating personalized experiences for applicants. And candidates appreciate this: While more and more organizations are deploying AI whenever they can, 43 percent of Americans prefer dealing with human beings over chatbots.

So, while organizations are excited to see what AI can do for their business processes, candidates would rather interact with real people. The human-to-human connection provided by sourcers can’t be replaced by AI.

2. AI Can Do a Lot — But Not Everything

AI-enabled tools can help sourcers drastically improve their productivity. While chatbots field basic questions, sourcers can get into more in-depth screening conversations. Augmented writing software helps talent acquisition pros write better jobs ads to attract more qualified candidates.

But while these AI-powered platforms are useful, they can’t do everything — nor can they easily adapt to novel situations.

Say a candidate asks a chatbot a complex question about diversity and inclusion at the company, like, “Can you give me some examples of times when the company has demonstrated its belief in equality for all employees, regardless of gender, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity?” No chatbot is sophisticated enough to answer a question of that magnitude — but a human sourcer can step in to provide the necessary information. The chatbot and the sourcer work in unison to complete the task, while the candidates gets a seamless experience.

AI is still in the beginning stages of its development, and it will be a long time before it can truly “think” on its own. In the meantime, the human brain is still the best thought-processing mechanism at our disposal, capable of responding quickly to new and challenging situations.

Plus, humans are a social species. We crave interaction with other people. While AI can accomplish and simplify a number of tasks, it can’t replace a human being when it comes to building relationships. For that, human sourcers are still necessary.

A version of this article originally appeared on IQTalent Partners. 

Chris Murdock is the cofounder and senior partner of IQTalent Partners.

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Chris Murdock is the cofounder and senior partner of IQTalent Partners. Chris has more than 12 years of executive recruiting experience and leads search execution and client relationships while supporting searches across the firm. Prior to founding IQTalent Partners, Chris was a sourcer with Yahoo!’s internal executive recruiting team in the corporate offices in Sunnyvale, California. Previous to Yahoo!, Chris was an associate in the Menlo Park, California, office of Heidrick & Struggles, where he recruited for software, hardware, professional services, and semiconductor clients. Before Heidrick & Struggles, Chris worked in the retail practice of TMP Worldwide in Atlanta, Georgia. While with TMP Worldwide, he worked on CEO, general merchandise manager, and various VP- and buyer-level searches. Chris earned a bachelor's degree from Vanderbilt University.