By: Kevin Wheeler, CEO and Founder, The Future of Talent Institute

Posted on 08 Jun 2017

Today’s recruiter goes through her work tied closely to a computer, smartphone or tablet.  She accesses the Internet to source candidates and to learn about them from social media sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn. Candidate resumes are received by email and she adds them to her applicant tracking system. She may send messages to the candidate from a candidate relationship management system (CRM) that will also allow her to schedule messages later. She may set up appointments for interviews with a calendar app or set up a video interview over Skype or via a dedicated video interviewing product.  In some cases, she might ask an applicant to take a test of some sort online to verify skills or to assess their cultural fit for the organization.

Nothing remarkable, yet amazing compared to 25 or even 15 years ago.

A revolution has taken place, almost unnoticed, since 1995 when the computer and the Internet were primitive.

Technology has become inextricably woven into our daily routines and very few recruiters or human resources people could imagine working without computers or Internet-based tools.

But had I predicted any of this in 1995, I would have been considered a bit looney, if not outright deranged. We were struggling to use email, had access to a most primitive browser called Mosaic, which only a few knew how to install or use, and the programs available were mostly games or very simple utilities.

So, what do the next 10 years promise us?

First of all, the future will probably look a lot stranger in hindsight than we can imagine. New services and products will emerge that are impossible to envision today – either because we do not yet have the science to develop them or because they depend on being built on something else that does not exist yet.

We are going to have our assumptions about many things challenged, changed and rethought. Here are three things that I think are most likely to happen:


1. Human Beings and Machine Beings

Computers will all but disappear into services we use. They will become as invisible as the electric motors or integrated circuits, for example, that are embedded into everything from refrigerators and washing machines to automobiles.

Instead we will speak with intelligent “beings” (I have no idea what to call them, so for now I will use “beings”) such as Siri or Alexa and they will do what we ask of them.  We will say, “Find me a mining engineer with a master’s degree who lives within 25 miles of Perth and is about to leave his current employer.”  These intelligent beings will be able to find someone like this, assess their likelihood of leaving the current employer using predictive analytics, locate them with GPS and provide you not only their names, but also a strategy for convincing them to consider a new opportunity based on an assessment of their personality.

Sound like science fiction?  Most of this can be done today, albeit by disconnected technologies that are yet to speak to each other. But this will be overcome easily within the next decade.

These “beings” will automate the majority of sourcing and even suggest the best way to find a particular type of person or profession. They will have access to data on labour markets, labour supply, salary expectations and much more so they can advise you or a hiring manager on where to look and how to approach a candidate.


2. The Rise of the Chatbot

Chatbots will replace much of our candidate conversation and engagement. These applications are embedded into websites that interact with candidates in real-time, using natural human language (in whatever language the candidate prefers).  They utilise machine learning, artificial intelligence, and algorithms to respond intelligently to a candidate. They can ask questions, interpret the responses, and provide answers or information.  They may be able to carry out the entire interview and assessment process with no human involvement.

If you have accessed a site for customer support, you may have already encountered a primitive form of chatbot. If a box has popped up with someone’s name, such as Rob or Ravi, saying they are there to answer your question, you have met a chatbot. Masquerading as people, they respond to a large percentage of commonly asked questions and solve common problems.  Most of them are not really “intelligent” but look up answers in a table and speak them back to you. Whenever they cannot find an answer, they transfer the call to a “real” human. However, each year they get better at what they do and soon will be able to learn and improve on their own.

There are a few firms offering versions of these to recruiters and there will be more in the coming year.


3. Algorithms Lead the Way

Imagine that any candidate offered a position is highly skilled, capable and motivated.  That he will stay for as long as predicted, barring health or emergencies. And that he will accept the position at a salary your firm can easily afford.
Impossible? Maybe not. The amount of data that exists about each of us online is astounding.  Our Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, as well as Twitter accounts are filled with data including things you did not actually enter but can be inferred from your profiles, posts and likes.  These include marital status, political affiliation, socio-economic status, products you like, service complaints, and so forth. Perhaps you have taken a trip and completed a Yelp or TripAdvisor review. Maybe you have a blog. All of this is fuel to assess your personality, interests, skills, and much more. A chatbot may engage you in conversation and ask you to take a test or complete a profile. And then all of this will be run through the algorithms a firm has developed for what makes someone successful in a position. From this they can determine the likelihood you will accept an offer at a particular salary and how well you will perform.

Assessment of candidates is going to not only be automated, but become far more sophisticated and complex, enabling the scenario above to become a reality. It will outstrip any recruiter’s ability to predict performance, cultural fit or length of tenure.  The economic benefits of this are enormous and a greater amount of objectivity when we remove a recruiter’s personal biases will lead to more diverse candidates getting hired and to a more creative workforce.

Assessments can be modified to allow less qualified people to be hired knowing that development will be necessary.  This may be fine in order to build a workforce and attract people who are predicted to have high motivation and high ability to learn. Happier and more competent people will reduce HR complaints, litigation, and workman’s compensation.

In the next decade, expect human resources management to be transformed – it may even not exist as it is today.


This piece was taken from the PageUp publication, CLIFFHANGER – HR on the Precipice in the Future of Work which addresses the major factors impacting the current HR and business landscape.  To learn more about the book and download a free chapter, click here.


About The Author

Kevin Wheeler
CEO and Founder, The Future of Talent Institute

Globally known as an expert on human capital acquisition and development, he is a much sought-after speaker, author, teacher and consultant. Wheeler is also the founder and Chairman of the Future of Talent Institute (FOTI) and a university professor on HR topics.

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