Recruiting Smarter with Artificial Intelligence
The recent launch of our new AI Smart module is the result of a collaboration between SmartSearch and Acara Solutions, an Aleron company. It’s a great example of how we work in concert with our clients to stay ahead of the curve in recruiting technology.
I spoke with SmartSearch’s President & CTO, LJ Morris and Debbie Sims, our Client Success Director, and Cam Moeser, Sr. VP of Recruitment & Program Management at Acara, for insights on how we worked in partnership on the development of AI Smart.
Q: How did we start the AI matching initiative?
Cam: I initiated the conversation with LJ to learn more about Sovren’s AI Smart technology in 2019. The underlying goal of our discussion was to explore how Acara could better incorporate the use of AI in our recruiting process. It’s important to our organization and our client base that we stay on top of innovative trends and technology in the marketplace, and our tool utilization is a key part of that strategy.
LJ: SmartSearch had integrated with a couple of AI matching solutions in the last few years, which delivered mixed results for our clients. I got excited when we took a look Sovren, one of our long-time business partners that powers our resume parsing. I called Acara, and after a few demonstrations, they were as impressed as I was. Together, we committed to working on a year-long project in the development and deployment of AI Smart.
Q: How has Acara and SmartSearch leveraged other AI tools in the past?
Cam: Our organization had looked at a few other tools in the past. But until we took a closer look at AI Smart, Acara had not made heavy investments in what we saw as an emerging technology.
Debbie: SmartSearch is an early adopter of artificial intelligence. Besides integrating with a couple of third-party providers, our built-in SmartMatch capability already automatically identifies candidates in the client’s database that may be a good fit for a position based on how well the job description matches candidates’ resumes and skills. SmartMatch learns from users, so it’s a precursor to more advanced AI sourcing tools; AI Smart is a natural progression to the next level.
Q: What are some of the key goals for using AI for recruiting?
LJ: It’s all about getting more hires, that’s the number one goal — hiring people faster, more efficiently. We wanted to create a tool that finds the top candidates who applied for jobs, and with a single click, find people in the database that are exceptional matches for a position, candidates that may be otherwise overlooked.
Cam: By leveraging AI in recruiting, our goal is to reduce recruiter administrative tasks. We aim to free up time to tackle more challenging things, such as improving candidate engagement. While finding candidates is one area that can be easily automated, the candidate engagement piece will always need a human touch. That’s where AI Smart comes into play for us at Acara.
Debbie: AI helps identify top candidates more quickly, and AI ranking helps recruiter’s focus on the most qualified candidates first. The Auto-Match feature is like having a sourcing assistant who works while the rest of the recruiting team is sleeping.
LJ: It was also important to us to provide a transparent solution that users could trust. The Sovren AI matching technology makes it crystal clear why a candidate is a good fit, based on skills, experience, education, and more, going well beyond skills and keywords to biometrically rank and suggest candidates most likely to succeed.
Q: What do you think is driving the push for using AI in recruiting?
Cam: The push toward AI-based recruiting is tied to the almighty dollar; when recruiters can maximize their time on candidate engagement, that’ll ultimately result in more placements and greater revenue. As we simplify and streamline aspects of the recruiting process, such as sourcing candidates, it allows for greater candidate engagement.
LJ: To beat the competition in staffing, it’s all about speed.
Debbie: AI definitely has the potential to be the next big gee-whiz thing.
Q: What are the pitfalls to using AI tools in recruiting/staffing?
LJ: It’s important to understand the difference between AI and machine learning. There are lots of AI systems and that just means they “act” like a human, chatbots for example. On the other hand, machine learning means there’s a feedback loop to the algorithms that teach the system to become smarter.
Debbie: AI learns from the end-users and can pick up unconscious bias. One of the things that makes Sovren a better tool than other AI matching technology is that it does not base decisions on past hires, it learns from the job qualifiers and adjustments made by recruiters against a set of eight criteria to identify if a candidate is a good fit for the job, and if the job is a good fit for a candidate. The human interaction is also important because AI does not identify soft skills.
LJ: Hiring people is always a personal experience. There are all sorts of human and trust-building interactions that play the most important part in the hiring process. Computers and automation will never tell anyone exactly who to hire.
Cam: At the end of the day, there is no perfect tool out there. Organizations need to make sure that the tool they’ve invested in works to help solve their needs. If this isn’t true, then adoption among their recruiters will suffer. Maintaining a committed partnership with your AI supplier is key.
Q: What do you recommend as the keys to user adoption of AI?
Cam: Training, training, and more training. Recruiters are creatures of habit; they want to see how effective a tool really is before they invest time in it. It’s important to drive user adoption and showcase the benefits of AI in the recruiting process.
Debbie: Make the training fun! Give your AI assistant a cute name, have a contest with prizes for recognition. We recommend a weekly training meeting during the rollout phase for engagement, feedback, and sharing success stories.
Q: Got any other lessons learned to share?
LJ: There are no sacred cows. Don’t fall in love with an idea. AI Smart features reports to measure actual performance. When you’re going down the path of collaboration or investing in a new product or system, make sure you’re being objective about results.
Cam: Although Acara is still in the early stages of adoption, the key to our success with AI lies in our dedicated partnership with SmartSearch.