In fact, the industry stands to change more in the next five years than it has in the last 20 due to innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, cloud computing and blockchain, notes Ken Krieger, CIO for The Judge Group.
For instance, recruiters may eventually go the way of travel agents, who have lost jobs to self-service platforms, according to Maurice Fuller, founder of StaffingTec.
“At some point, most staffing transactions will be totally automated, leaving humans to handle the exceptions,” he predicts.
A recent survey by Bullhorn confirms the importance and future impact of technology, with 52% of staffing firms boosting investments in 2018 and 23% of execs ranking automation as a top priority and 36% as a top challenge.
Here’s some insight into how staffing leaders are prioritizing investments in technology and the trends that will have a huge impact on the industry today and tomorrow.
Sourcing and Matching Powered by AI
Many execs are counting on AI to provide a much-needed productivity boost with demand for talent exceeding supply and margins remaining relatively flat.
“We want to be as fast and efficient as possible in identifying candidates, matching them to jobs and getting them on the phone,” explains Russ Danford, VP of strategic technology and marketing for MATRIX Resources.
“Effective resource allocation is more important than ever when you receive 5,000 requisitions a week,” he points out.
To that end, many executives are replacing inconsistent and hard-to-scale Boolean keyword searches and time-consuming résumé reviews with predictive algorithms and machine learning tools to identify the best candidates. According to the Deloitte Human Capital Trends report, 38% of companies are using AI for recruitment and 62% expect to do so by the end of this year. AI tools use data analytics to synthesize information from diverse internal and/or external sources, rank and shortlist the strongest candidates for a given position.
For example, some tools identify passive candidates and untapped talent pools by monitoring social signals and the clues that soon-to-be job seekers leave online. Others compare the skills, experience and attributes of thousands of candidates stored in an in-house ATS or cloud-based system against a job requirement in a matter of seconds.
“We’re hoping that using AI at the very front of the process will help us redeploy active workers before they accept another assignment,” explains Angie College, VP of operations for The Adecco Group. “It definitely lets our recruiters spend more time building relationships and communicating one-on-one.”
AI-enabled sourcing is generally more precise than keyworddriven searches conducted by human recruiters. As a result, it improves the candidate experience and may actually increase supply by helping to eliminate unconscious biases in the selection and matching process.
Engagement Using AI
Staffing firms are increasingly using AI-powered recruiting assistants — also known as chatbots — to screen and engage candidates with the highest matching scores. The bots pose job-related questions and hold human-like conversations to determine if a prospect should be connected to a recruiter or advance to a client interview.
Some firms are also using bots to engage with visitors on their website or Facebook page. The bots, which grow smarter with each conversation, determine availability, book interviews, send directions and even offer tips on what to say or wear. Staffing execs should be aware however, that replacing human interactions with bots is not an exact science.
“It takes some time to find the right place in the workflow to integrate a bot,” Danford admits.
For instance, The Adecco Group is measuring candidate engagement and sentiment throughout the hiring and placement journey, College explains.
“We are looking to see when candidates engage with us and how the information we provide via a chatbot helps them prepare for a role and influences their decision to keep an assignment,” she says.
Down the road, staffing firms may venture into more sophisticated software that predicts on-the-job performance by evaluating a prospect’s emotions and facial expressions during video interviews along with performance data, references and social media posts.
Chatbots aren’t limited to candidate interactions.
“Staffing firms that are interested in garnering more clients and job orders are investing in integrated marketing and sales platforms that use AI to identify prospects and engage with them,” Fuller notes.
Forget power dialers and guessing what matters to staffing buyers. This sophisticated software assists salespeople in choosing the most likely-to-buy customers, creates an outreach roadmap and uses AI-powered virtual assistants to execute a series of strategic sales and marketing activities that are designed to add value with every interaction.
“Instead of making 50 contacts per day, salespeople are conducting hundreds of outreaches via text message, social media, email and phone,” Fuller says.
The movement will probably accelerate once Google launches its Duplex technology, which can make calls, hold conversations with prospects and set up appointments without charging a commission.
Intelligent Process Optimization
Speaking of bots, many staffing firms are working to identify and assign non-value-added, repetitive business and recruiting tasks to automated assistants, so staff members can spend more time generating revenue and less time on administration.
For example, historically when recruiters at The Judge Group performed some type of activity — such as calling candidates to pitch a job, check availability or update their résumés — they’ve had to stop and log their actions in an ATS/CRM system, Krieger explained.
“We wanted to make them more productive by removing the friction,” he adds. “A lot of those touchpoints can be captured automatically.”
Indeed, some CRM systems and add-on tools automatically capture and log emails, video chats, phone calls and appointments on candidate records, reducing redundant data entry.
That’s no longer a problem at MATRIX Resources, which is using predictive analytics to decipher which jobs are most — and least — fillable, based on an analysis of previous history and external factors such as the size of the talent pool within a specific geography, skills shortages and so forth.
“The tool accesses internal data as well as the external data collected by our MSP partners to predict the opportunities that give us the best chance to win,” Danford says.
The firm has also started using robotic process automation to audit VMS data, a back-office task previously done by humans.
And like other firms, Adecco has invested in automated appointment scheduling and onboarding tools. Although onboarding software debuted a few years ago, only 24% of firms currently use automation to a great extent, according to Bullhorn.
Business Intelligence in the Cloud
Krieger is on a mission to get to one version of the truth. Essentially, he wants to meet the reporting requirements of global clients and glean real-time performance insights by viewing and analyzing data residing in CRMs, finance, enterprise resource planning and other systems without jumping through digital hoops. His solution is part of a larger trend: Implementing business intelligence and analytics technologies within a cloud computing environment.
“Moving all your data to the cloud makes it easier to comply with new personally identifiable information regulations and ensure data security,” he adds.