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How Talent Intelligence and AI are Driving the Evolution of HR

Adrian Dixon

September 1, 2021

AI in HR has become marker of the future of work as organizations move away from old hierarchies of uniformity towards more flexible and responsive models. HR leaders are rethinking processes to make their companies more human, more agile, and more innovative, all at scale. McKinsey reports that organizations that align talent mapping with their strategic plans are more than twice as likely to outperform their peers.

The competition for top talent is as steep as ever. Randstad Risesmart UK polled HR leaders from 85 enterprise organizations and found 65% reported that they needed the best people on board to help them rebuild in the wake of the pandemic. The ability to find and attract the very best people for a given role has become a competitive advantage; as has the ability to create a supportive and equitable environment for those people we do end up hiring.

In the race to find and retain the very best talent—and to displace the competition while doing so—human resources (HR) and talent acquisition professionals are turning to the immense power of AI, and more specifically talent intelligence. According to a survey of HR leaders by Oracle, “AI is becoming more prominent, with 50 percent of workers currently using some form of AI at work compared to only 32 percent last year.” 

So, what does the rise of AI in HR mean for talent professionals? How exactly is talent intelligence reshaping the world of HR?

Talent intelligence spans from candidacy and hiring, to onboarding and ongoing employment

The use cases for talent intelligence encompass the entire employee lifecycle. We’re constantly finding new opportunities to make everything from recruiting, training, and onboarding, to employee feedback and performance management better with AI. What follows is a closer look at four core areas in which AI is making the most significant impact.

1. Screening: Accurate and efficient resume filtering 

The ability for candidates to apply to most jobs digitally has been a game changer. Just think about the one-click “easy apply” function on LinkedIn. Applying to jobs is easier than ever. The sheer number of applications per job post makes some form of resume automation a must-have. 

Even if you don’t receive three million job applications a year, like Google does, your HR staff could likely benefit from an AI-powered resume algorithm. These algorithms can scan a high volume of resumes in seconds, scoring and tiering them according to predefined criteria. For example, check out how Ideal helps HR teams screen efficiently while reducing bias, with the use of AI.

AI can also match information on a candidate’s resume to relevant job openings, shortening the time to application and, where appropriate, filtering out applicants that wouldn’t be a good fit. By taking on the often time-consuming task of checking resumes, AI can free up HR staff to focus on higher-value tasks.It can make the life of your applicants easier too by automatically filling in forms with information it already has on record.

2. Fairness: An unbiased talent and employee lifecycle 

Unfortunately, human beings are prone to what IBM calls “unconscious bias.” This is especially true recruiting and hiring, performance monitoring, and even compensation. According to an IBM Smarter Workforce Institution report, the prevalence of unconscious bias can severely impede diversity and inclusion initiatives. 

This bias can also be reduced—or at least mitigated—with the help of AI, something HR professionals ought to be quite interested in. For example: 

  • Better automated job recommendations so that a broader, more diverse talent pool is made aware of an open position that suits them.
  • Blind applicant screening that automatically removes identifiers from a resume that might create unconscious bias during the resume screening and ranking process.
  • Automated career path and open role matching that enhance internal mobility, career advancement, and promotion opportunities by finding matches that humans might overlook.

3. Productivity: The evolution of HR jobs

That a technology as powerful as AI will reshape HR is inevitable. Indeed, some 82% of HR leaders feel their roles will be “unrecognizable” a decade from now. Another 81% of HR leaders struggle to keep up with the “pace of technological changes in the workplace” (Oracle).

Yet, by most estimates, HR jobs are not going away, only evolving. Assuming a recruiter, for example, can overcome the technological learning curve, they might find that AI-powered tools make their day-to-day experience far more efficient. A Chief People Officer overseeing a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) program might find that they now have the time and information they need to make their processes for promotion and termination far more equitable. In fact, Ideal’s DEI product can provide data and insights to help move large scale DEI initiatives forward.

By and large, AI is less frequently replacing HR jobs, but rather automating the mundane tasks that in the past held HR professionals back. 

4. Tools: A new breed of HR software

Any talk of AI in HR begs two questions; the first being ‘Is HR ready for more advanced tech?’ The short answer is yes, the use of advanced tech and talent intelligence is already here. The next question is, “what will it actually look like on a day to day basis?” Quite often, the power of AI is embedded within the applications that HR already uses on a daily basis to make better decisions and support employees. These might be traditional human resources management systems, or more comprehensive, cloud-based with many AI-powered functions. 

Here are some of the new functionalities enabled by AI: 

  • Predictive analytics during the talent screening and acquisition process
  • Conversational AI for more comprehensive workforce engagement using text messages, chatbots, and other channels
  • Enterprise HR service management for better employee service and support
  • Intelligent aggregation of “people data” across the organization to unlock actionable insights, such as improved opportunity matching
  • AI-powered applicant tracking systems that dramatically reduce bias in the hiring process

An enhancement, not a holy grail

The hype is loud around things like AI, machine learning, and natural language processing for a reason. As we’ve seen, AI technologies can enhance and improve HR operations in remarkable ways, often creating a far more equitable, efficient, and scalable model.

However, people are still at the root of what HR is all about. People drive the conversation on both sides of talent acquisition and employee retention. Inherent bias can be built—sometimes unknowingly—into algorithms, too. Questions of data privacy and compliance ought to be at the forefront of the conversation, rather than the afterthought.

Still, it’s exciting to see how AI is helping HR to evolve. This shifted mindset towards talent intelligence has allowed organizations to outperform their peers, capture more market share, and put the focus back on their organization’s greatest asset – their people.