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History tells us that AI will cost some recruiters their jobs.

June 25, 2017

There’s a tidal wave of conference guff going around that charts the imminent demise of the recruiters world. Not quite as odiously lazy guff as the ‘millenials are all bloody needy’ generational blah blah blah merchants but give it time. It’s still relatively early and knowing that the established corporate world only designates their HR people 1 day off a year to listen to 'experts' from the outside then it feels pretty fresh to those attending another conference sucking on the kool aid.

 

Listen. Technology’s impact on automating the repetitive administrative tasks we have been waiting for the machines to come along and do, will grow in influence. But here’s the thing the the Cassandras often overlook for a cheap thrill – the distinct difference between a task and a role.

 

So, as a recap, here you go :

 

task : noun

 

a piece of work to be done or undertaken.

"the recruiter was given the task of entering the data on the ATS "

 

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role : noun

 

a job comprising a collection of tasks.

"the recruiter’s job description outlined the many tasks in the role"

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Tasks are under threat. Some of these are so tediously boring that we should go on a weekend bender to celebrate the fact that we are handing it over to Metal Mickey. But despite my obvious irritation at this lazy hyperbole there is an equally daft claim made at the other end of the spectrum that needs tackled – the shamelessly glib statement that it’s all quids in for the recruiter as they will have new and liberating tasks to perform of the more humane nature as a result of AI technology intervention.

 

So, hold your horses and let’s explore how past corporate behaviour might just dictate future performance. It will mean curtains for some existing recruiters.

 

1. Many of our established organisations are now being shown to be one trick ponys – barely delivering profitable results if it wasn’t for labour utilisation strategies (i.e outsource, offshore, contract, zero hours, etc) and endless efficiency drives (i.e redundancy schemes), sitting in a long tail of low productivity companies as a result. Capital investment in building employee-centric organisations is a proverbial conversation killer at the board table. Finding ways to trim the workforce is a major turn on for many businesses still.

 

2. Many of these organisations are led by CEOs from a finance legacy that see HR and recruitment as non-customer facing units of cost to endure. The perpetual challenge is to get to the lowest cost to serve denominator without an ethical scandal or the inability to deliver payroll each month. You think they'll pass up the chance to cut heads to pay for capital investment ?

 

3. Our cancer of corporate short-termism and risk aversion is only matched by our lack of investment. And where we manage to win the odd battle for much needed investment the associated impatience for delivering a financial return is overpowering. Thus the allure of cost per hire sits way beyond its actual usefulness is borne out in under pressure Talent departments across the land.

 

4. Finally, a legacy of personal investment means that the preparedness for a 360 degree recruiter to become an all-singing, all-dancing, digitally-savvy, data-eating, social marketer in the flick of a switch is frankly cobblers. History tells us we’re more likely to buy new skills not build. 

 

Of course there are those who will win this ideological battle as they are the organisations who just get the need to invest and reinvent. For those less sure then my advice would to storm the conference stage in protest or put a clause in the HR Technology vendors’ contract to indemnify you against the obvious loss of employment product investment will bring.

 

Until next time. It’s tasks not jobs but it’s likely finance won’t care for the difference.

 

Of course there are those who will win this ideological battle as they are the organisations who just get the need to invest and reinvent. For those less sure then my advice would to storm the conference stage in protest or put a clause in the HR Technology vendors’ contract to indemnify you against the loss of employment as a result of the investment.

 

Until next time. It’s tasks not jobs but it’s likely finance won’t care for the difference.

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