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AI in Recruitment: Lessons Learned

20 February 2024

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Dan Black Global Talent Attraction and Acquisition Leader, EY

Smart AI technology system for human resource management. concept of effective person information, audit, assessment, and qualification system in organization.

Dan Black is Global Talent Attraction and Acquisition Leader at EY. Here he examines the influence and potential of the latest technology for recruitment.

In my 25+ years working in recruiting, few topics have elicited the varying opinions among jobseekers as AI. While some candidates are skeptical; others are excited about the prospect of a more tailored job hunt, replete with bespoke options that better meet their specific needs and preferences. So, how can employers hope to address the full spectrum of concerns and expectations?

Embracing the world of AI is a continuous learning journey that brings new insights as we integrate AI into our daily lives and workplaces. The possibilities and advancements are constantly evolving. Navigating this path in recruiting isn’t just a choice; it’s a necessity for staying relevant and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

In EY’s recent Employer Brand Survey it found that emerging technology (including generative AI – GenAI) is a talent attractor for roughly 23% of people surveyed across nine countries. Right now, companies are working feverishly to implement AI at scale with a balance of speed and responsibility. This is particularly difficult for organisations that operate in multiple countries and across a wide array of talent pools. Laws and governance around AI are still in their nascent stages, and the technology itself is evolving more rapidly than anything we’ve seen.

For our part, EY has invested more than US $1.4 billion in AI, including the new EY.ai, a unifying platform to drive transformation, and EYQ: a secure, internal Gen AI tool that’s radically reducing the time it takes to seek relevant information, experiences and insights.

At EY, we want our use of AI to deliver on three things: building confidence; creating exponential value, and augmenting people potential. So, we’re working hard on building the necessary trust around bias mitigation, data quality, explainable results, transparency and optimized performance.

As we navigate this journey together, I wanted to share a few thoughts with jobseekers and employers alike, in the hopes that these ideas will inspire continued dialogue. In my view, learning from each other is one of the best ways to build an exceptional candidate experience for everyone involved in the recruitment process. These are just “starter topics” for discussion; I’d love to hear your thoughts and advance our collective understanding.

  1. One size isn’t going to fit all – and that’s okay

Whether it’s a technology solution, an application process or different ways of working, there’s no “magic bullet.” Both companies and job seekers will need to experiment and accept that getting it “right” will take time and effort. Consider this example: At any given time, the EY organisation has around one million active applicants and we believe that technology should help those applicants better navigate our complex organisation. To that end, we launched an AI-powered Candidate Assistant both internally and on external EY Careers pages in several global markets. This technology has helped tens of thousands of people find opportunities that are a potential match for their skills and interests. But there’s still more work to be done in this space, including expanding the tool’s language capabilities and further customising the content that is delivered to the talent market based on user needs and preferences.

  1. AI should make recruiting more human – not less

To reference one of the EY organisation’s Better Questions: What if harnessing technology enabled recruiters to be more inclusive while giving them additional time for personal interactions? That’s a transformation that I’m happy to welcome. Despite dystopian depictions of our tech-powered future, the best employers recognize that it’s the human element that is still most critical to enduring success in virtually every sector. As I’m fond of saying, the robots are not coming for your jobs, they are coming for your tasks – mainly those that most of us didn’t want to do in the first place. As one example, the EY Talent Attraction & Acquisition team is currently exploring how AI sourcing algorithms can help us interact with more candidates – from a wider array of backgrounds – without having to manually sort through thousands of additional resumes/CVs. The key is ensuring AI-enabled decision making is always balanced with real human experience for the best possible outcomes.

  1. Be bold … but build responsibly

With its unlimited potential, AI also brings the risk of algorithmic bias. To mitigate that bias, companies need testing and guardrails for designing and implementing AI, while asking bigger questions like, “who is this technology going to benefit?” We’ve formalized EY AI principles that include accountability, security, transparency, fairness and sustainability. Part of this commitment means not pursuing technology in areas where bias may be associated with the outcome of the technology used. For example, the Candidate Assistant mentioned above can help job seekers find the open roles at EY that are best suited to their background and preferences, but it won’t preclude them from applying to any other job that they may be interested in.

At EY, we say the exceptional career experience, augmented and empowered by AI, is yours to build.

What has been your experience with AI thus far? Has it helped you access a wider talent pool or find new career opportunities you hadn’t previously considered? I’d love to hear in the comments – so please drop your thoughts on LinkedIn or mail to: [email protected]

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