(Not So Artificial) Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a revolutionary technology tool that has started to change the way that many of us search for and find candidates. If you have an applicant tracking system that does something called “concept searching” or allows you to easily find candidates that have similar levels of experience, you have likely used AI technology. Now get ready for it to change the way that candidates search for and find our openings. AI is poised to create an adaptive, dynamic candidate experience that will have a profound impact on how candidates experience employment websites. Artificial Intelligence: What It Is and How It Works Put simply, artificial intelligence is the science of defining and simulating logic. It is a way of automating the evaluation of information and making decisions based on that evaluation. A great example of AI in action is the Mars Rover project that has been trolling all over the red planet. Thirty-five million miles is a bit too far of a distance for even the best radio-controlled cars to operate, so how do Spirit and Opportunity know to avoid large objects or potholes and how to get around them? Through AI technology. This AI technology starts from ground zero by teaching the Rovers what an obstacle is and then the list of possible techniques to avoid them. The next time it encounters such an obstacle, it has “learned” what to do in that situation. Within today’s applicant tracking systems, AI technology serves a somewhat related purpose. Recruiters who wish to avoid and steer around the unqualified candidates may use AI in their ATS to do so through technology provided by companies like Burning Glass and Engenium. These recruiter-facing AI tools can analyze the content and structure of thousands of resumes (this is called natural language processing), compare them to the resumes of candidates deemed qualified for that position or those that were hired, and return search results of resumes that are ranked, despite not having gone through a pre-screening process. On the surface, this sounds like the ultimate tool for the recruiter who is too busy to create job-specific pre-screening questions or who is not adept at Boolean searches. I would caution, though, that AI is not a substitute for human logic, and that given the diversity of human nature, not all of the best candidates fit into the norm of what you would expect. Always keep in mind that Einstein was a patent clerk and Bill Gates never graduated from college ó yet these are the types of individuals that most companies would love to have working for them. That said, AI can be and is a very helpful tool to weed through large numbers of resumes or to find individuals with similar experiences. Using Artificial Intelligence To Create an Adaptive Experience Just the other day, something absolutely amazing happened. As I was thinking about the crown molding I have to put up in one of the bedrooms of my house, I visited Amazon.com. On the front page of Amazon.com, in my Recommendations section, I saw an advertisement for a miter saw that was perfect for cutting crown molding. Of the hundreds of thousands of products Amazon sells, from books and CDs to household appliances and toys, Amazon was recommending the exact product I was interested in at that exact moment. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw it. After a thorough search, I decided that no listening devices had been planted in my office and no chip had been implanted in my brain to read my thoughts. So how did Amazon know that I might be looking for a miter saw? At Amazon, AI is used to analyze a combination of my past purchase data, what items I’ve looked at in the past, and the types of offers to which I’ve responded. This is cross-referenced with customers who have bought similar items own purchasing habits to determine what I am likely to buy and when I am likely to buy it. They use this information to create a highly customized, relevant experience, one that adapts to my individual tastes ó an experience that is so customized that it’s almost scary. Future Applications for Recruiting On a smaller scale, AI has the potential to be used to make candidates’ experiences much more relevant while providing very tangible benefits for the recruiting team. Just as recruiters have a difficult time sorting through hundreds or thousands of resumes, candidates have just as difficult a time sorting through hundreds or thousands of jobs to find the ones for which they are most qualified. Given the diversity of job titles, descriptions and words used to describe them from company to company, keyword and category searching are truly hit or miss. This is part of the reason why so many unqualified candidates apply in the first place ó they can’t find the right position for them. So where does AI fit in to the candidate experience? We can use the same AI technology that we provide to recruiters to allow candidates to perform their own concept searches. We can serve up related jobs to users so they don’t miss other opportunities that they might not have found on their own. We can give candidates a ranked listing of job titles based on their qualifications and experience. We can even adapt the content on our employment sites to match up to individual users’ tastes, experience levels, past application behavior and even where they are in the hiring process. The examples above are only scratching the surface. The potential for candidate-facing AI is only limited by our imagination and initiative.

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Dave Lefkow is currently the CEO of talentspark (www.talentsparkconsulting.com), a consulting firm that helps companies use technology to gain a competitive advantage for talent, and a regular contributor to ERE on human capital, technology, and branding related subjects. He is also an international speaker on human capital trends and best practices, having spoken in countries as close as Canada and as far away as Malaysia and Australia. His consulting work has spanned a wide variety of industries and recruiting challenges with companies like Starbucks, Boeing, HP, Microsoft, Expedia, Washington Mutual, Nike and Swedish Medical Center.

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