There’s no question that various forms of artificial intelligence (AI), such as machine learning and robotic process automation (RPA), are having an impact on the field of recruiting. But will they ever make a human executive recruiter obsolete? The answer is an emphatic, “No!” The reason why AI can’t replace recruitment is simple: While AI offers great potential in some areas, it will never deliver the same deep expertise, empathy, and humanity of the human recruiter.
It’s true that since I started as an executive recruiter, advancements in technology have transformed recruiting. Manual filing systems have been replaced by an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), making the process of sorting through applications to select potential candidates much faster and more efficient. Online networking tools such as LinkedIn facilitate executive searches by enabling recruiters to connect with candidates online. More recently, new AI-driven tools such as chatbots and RPA bots are streamlining a range of repetitive tasks within the recruitment process.
While the Kirby Partners team leverages technology for many aspects of our work, we find that successful executive recruiting is relationship driven and dependent on several factors — things that AI cannot do:
- Establish relationships with candidates. Executive job placements don’t happen overnight. They’re the result of carefully nurtured relationships with quality candidates — usually passive job seekers who aren’t actively looking to move elsewhere. Convincing them to even consider another role requires time, patience, and an ability to speak to what matters most to them. I often develop relationships with candidates and start a dialogue with them about their career goals years before I actually successfully place them at a new organization. When someone approaches me about a position I represent, I spend time with them understanding their motivation and figuring out what’s important to them.
- Assess interpersonal skills and cultural fit. Unlike technical skills, interpersonal skills and cultural fit are not simple “check the box” items that a computer can assess. They require human interaction to gain the level of insight needed to evaluate whether a candidate will be able to interact effectively with peers, employees, and clients, as well as fit into the organizational culture.
- Build relationships with client organizations. As executive recruiters, my team and I strive to get a clear understanding of our client’s needs in order to present the best candidates for the role. We invest time and effort into understanding each client’s culture, as well as the mission, vision and strategy, and makeup of its executive team. Only by doing so can we provide advice as to what type of candidate would be a good fit, as well as serve as a strategic partner throughout the interview and selection process.
- Provide a customized, personalized approach. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach in executive recruiting, since candidates and client companies are all unique and all have their own specific needs. For this reason, our team of executive recruiters has to be agile and tailor their approach to each specific search, something that hinges on both experience and the ability to connect at a deeper level with candidates.
In the coming years, corporate and executive recruiters will undoubtedly see the rise of more powerful AI-driven tools. We envision using these tools not to replace humans, but to help streamline the executive search process so that we can focus on establishing meaningful, long-lasting relationships with candidates and organizations that result in matches.