Local job recruiters turn to artificial intelligence

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 18 Mar 2019
Rhett Davies, partner at MCI Consultants.
Rhett Davies, partner at MCI Consultants.

South African job recruiters believe artificial intelligence (AI) will become mainstream in the next few years.

In the 7th Annual HR Recruitment Trend Survey, MCI Consultants, a distributor of human resources (HR) recruitment software, polled 1 070 HR professionals from a cross-section of industries and organisation sizes in SA.

According to the survey findings, 93% of organisations believe AI will play an important role in the recruitment process within the next few years.

It also found that 80% of organisations rated diversity as being very important in their organisation; and 77% use social media to recruit candidates, up from 64% last year, with LinkedIn being by far the most successful.

Some 42% of organisations use a recruitment management system, while 46% find a shortage of skills to be their biggest obstacle to attracting the best talent, the survey found.

Matching skills

Rhett Davies, partner at MCI, comments that AI helps to reduce the volume of applications that need to be physically reviewed by recruiters, as AI is able to automatically match required job skills and experience to candidate CVs.

"AI also simulates human interaction with candidates through automated and personalised messaging capabilities. This helps HR departments that utilise AI to optimise their turnaround times in finding and hiring talent.

"AI also helps to reduce bias in the early stages of talent acquisition, as recruitment AI algorithms are geared to focus purely on matching the right skills and experience to an organisation's vacancies. This results in higher output for HR, reduced time, admin and costs, enhanced employer brand management and greater promotion of diversity and inclusion during the hiring process."

Nonetheless, Davies says organisations that are running older legacy HR systems for recruitment may battle to incorporate AI in the process, as the products they are using are not yet geared for this technology.

He adds that perceived complexity and a lack of knowledge on the subject matter is also a barrier in preventing HR from exploring the inclusion of AI in their processes.

"As a trend, some South African organisations are also not yet including AI into their operational or executive strategies as a priority. As a result of this, HR is not effectively able to illustrate and communicate the benefits to the executive.

"This results in budgets not being allocated to the inclusion or implementation of AI tech into the organisation."

Commenting on the popularity of social media as a recruitment tool, Davies says the advantages of social media are now becoming evident across all aspects of organisational talent management processes.

"An ever-increasing number of HR managers and recruiters have awoken to the enormous possibilities offered by online recruitment tools and social networks in their quest to engage with the correct people and locate top talent, for virtually zero cost."

People analytics

Professional services firm Ernst & Young says AI technologies offer significant opportunities to improve HR functions, such as self-service transactions, recruiting and talent acquisition, payroll, reporting, access policies and procedures.

"We are living in an era in which AI capabilities are reaching new heights and have a major impact on how we operate our business. Human resources executives have faith that merging AI into HR administration functions will benefit and improve the overall employee experience. This will provide more capacity, more time and budget, and more accurate information for decisive people management," says Ernst & Young.

It points out that for years, organisations have been collecting data to gain insights to predict future behaviour.

"HR teams have a lot of catching up to do in leveraging these people analytics - what data to track, analyse, manage and protect. AI will play a larger role within HR to support smart people analytics in innovative ways to attract top talent."

The firm believes technologies that enhance the candidate experience and meet expectations will help distinguish an organisation from all the others.

According to Ernst & Young, AI-based HR applications have strong potential to raise employee productivity and help HR professionals become knowledgeable consultants that boost employee performance.

It adds that HR applications empowered by AI have an ability to analyse, predict, diagnose and become more powerful and capable resources.