Will intelligent robots replace recruiters?

It seems a fanciful thought but the idea that rapidly advancing computer algorithms could one day make better recruitment choices than people is gathering some serious pace. In this post, I shed my two cents on the idea, and for those who fail to grasp the obvious, I’m not a believer.

Firstly, as recruiters, we are brought into the recruitment process of our clients not just for our expertise in finding the right calibre of candidate, but also for the time our ‘process’ saves them. It’s no secret that many clients could likely do just a good a job as we do at finding people for their organisation – they just don’t have the time. Call us what you will; ‘cowboys’, ‘a necessary evil’, ‘legal human traffickers’ (I’ve heard them all), but the reality is, there’s a lot of us out there doing a very good job indeed. Sure, a machine could also save you a wealth of man hours just as we do, but at a similar cost? I doubt that.. not yet anyway.

Secondly, we’re often told that culture is of equal importance when looking to hire staff. While the creators of this new revolutionary tech will wax lyrical about the complex algorithms developed to consider such things as professional background and education, would you really trust a computer to understand the cultural requirements of your organisation over a trusted recruitment partner? Having a person experience your environment, your work force and your history first hand and not through a digital interface gives you, the client, a partner that will appreciate your organisation more than a computer will ever be able to.

Thirdly, find me a computer that can think ‘outside of the box’ like a human, and I’ll discount everything I’ve just said. On numerous occasions throughout my career, I’ve been given a brief not just to find someone for a specific role, but to look for individuals who can add a broader value to my client’s team. Sure, this individual might not have a data centre background, but they understand the public sector and how different departments  within it operate. Sure, this individual might not sell professional services, but their network of contacts in document management could open up a new revenue stream for the client. Thoughts and ideas like these can only be made humans. Machines run on specifics, whereas we as individual minds and collective teams, can speculate and deliberate.

The theory that computers can make these kind of choices for your business is an interesting debate, but it’s too linear. Recruitment is not a simple stage by stage process. There are variables and back and forth discussions, it can be trial and error, flexibility and rigidity are needed in equal measure, one hiring manager may want something completely different to another in the same company hiring for the same role. It would make the programmable.. unprogrammable.

I’m all for advancing technology; for one thing, it has given me a career that I love, so I’m not tech sceptic as a whole (far from it), but there are rights and wrongs for incorporating technology and computers into our lives. Recruitment is a people business, and it should remain in the hands of people. In the same way that robots are far and away a better choice to build your Toyota on an assembly line or fight Will Smith in a dystopian future than I am, I, others like me and the hiring managers themselves are far and away those who should remain in control of recruitment processes……for now….