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How Can Tech Improve Jobs Instead Of Replacing Them?

Adrian Dixon

November 20, 2019

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The short answer – in so many ways!

We’ve been hearing this for a year or two now, but here’s a recent article from HR Executive about how smart automation can lift HR to world-class levels. Awesome. We agree — it’s one of the many reasons we offer intelligent automation within our product suite. If you scroll down in the HR Executive article, you’ll find research from The Hackett Group about how HR teams employing smart automation are “currently operating at 20% lower cost and with 31% fewer employees than typical HR organizations.”

That sounds great. Who wouldn’t want lower cost? But the second part can feel scary. Fewer employees? Does that mean that deploying smart automation could lead to layoffs within a HR or recruiting team? This deserves a bit more attention.

No, it does not mean that

In fact, if you get further down in the same article, you come to this paragraph:

Max Caldwell, principal-in-charge of the Hackett Group’s People and HR Transformation practice, says it’s important to keep in mind that technology alone will not get HR organizations to digital world class. He says a holistic transformation plan describing how to engage and partner with the business is key. For example, to address talent shortages and retention difficulties, HR must adjust its service design to focus on improving the employee experience, he says.

That is the essence of the argument around all advanced tech, from AI recruiting to AI in general to machine learning to smart automation — all of which are a bit related, but ultimately different. 

These solutions are not designed to replace human beings. They are designed to take away some of the work that holds human beings back from more productivity, help them with that, and allow them to be more strategic and value-add to their organization. Tech is a force multiplier and designed to help accelerate what a business wants to do, ideally in even less time than it would normally take. The purpose of technology is not to take jobs away from people; it’s to make what they do at their job more impactful. 

An example from recruiting

Let’s say a recruiter works 40 hours in a given week (he/she probably works more). Let’s assume that, across a variety of open reqs, they spend about 8-12 hours in a week on screening. Much of that is Internet search, Boolean strings, and other common approaches. OK. What if, instead, that recruiter used intelligent screening and got a list of candidates ranked A through D? That would happen in seconds, and would give this recruiter back about eight hours in their week. That’s about 1.5 hours/day. In that span, they could: 

  • Develop stronger relationships with hiring managers
  • Work on capacity planning with division leaders for future needs
  • Map out skills gaps in the organization to see where new talent might be needed
  • Work on budgeting
  • Go meet a potential future candidate for lunch/coffee (be proactive)
  • Search Twitter to find people talking about their industry and see if they’d be interested in future roles (bring on talent that already understands the world you play in!)

When you’re spending so much time on tasks like screening or other top-of-funnel, repetitive-type work … it’s hard to find time for these activities listed above. But these activities are going to move the needle on your talent pool more than just screening for open reqs will. 

Oh, and bonus — you can save more time by going back through previously-qualified applicants who just missed out on getting hired, by running candidate rediscovery on your ATS. This allows you to find candidate gold in minutes instead of days/weeks. Time saved and more high-quality hires. Win-win!

The bottom line

We have gone pretty far in one direction on a few conversations about what automation will mean to human recruiters. Do not fear. It is not about replacing people; it is about pointing people towards a more efficient and productive uses of their work week. Tech is a partner, just like any business partner. It’s designed to help you grow, not replace you.