When it comes to hiring top talent, “artificial intelligence (AI) has finally come into its own.” That’s according to Korn Ferry’s “2018 Talent Trends Predictions” report based on a survey of 28 top recruiters by the Los Angeles-based recruiting firm’s Futurestep division.

Effective application of AI in hiring makes a big difference in finding the right candidate, says Franz Gilbert, Korn Ferry's VP of product innovation. The same holds true for several other technology-related talent trends cited in the firm’s report. Among them:

1. AI. A lot of recruiters are limiting their approach to AI to “semantic analysis”—simply matching key words in job requirements to those in resumes, says Gilbert. But it can be used for much more. For instance, Korn Ferry’s own talent acquisition system, which it markets as well as uses internally, has “two layers of AI,” he says. First it studies a wide swath of current job holders—such as software engineers in New York—and “builds a neural network around what it is learning.” The system then examines variables about the position, seeking out “success factors” exemplified by effective hires, says Gilbert.

Franz Gilbert

It’s important to understand that AI won’t replace human recruiters, at least anytime soon. Instead, business is witnessing the “re-invention of the human recruiter,” where he or she can concentrate on higher level functions, such as “compensation analysis, talent assessment, behavioral information,” while AI tools handle “a large portion of the administrative tasks,” Gilbert says.

2. Social media. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter allow recruiters to “get really smart from an advertising perspective,” says Gilbert. A recruiting strategy called “geo-fencing” involves using social media to target potential talent in a specific geographic area. For instance, a recruiter looking for a SuccessFactors expert might run banner ads on Facebook specifically in the Orlando area during an SAP developers’ conference. “That way, I know I’m going to reach the right people,” Gilbert says. And banner ads are much cheaper than postings on job sites, he adds.

The challenge is that banner advertising requires a more visual, graphical approach to job recruitment—“a blend of employer branding and recruiter marketing,” Gilbert says, which is a different skill set than recruiters normally demonstrate.

3. Virtual office. The technology to support remote workers, such as video conferencing and collaboration software, is sophisticated and ubiquitous. It’s also a big advantage for recruiters looking to fill deep-expertise or high-demand positions—especially when relocation is a non-starter. For instance, a manufacturer in rural Georgia looking to hire a SuccessFactors expert is going to find a pretty small pool of local talent. “But if you go virtual,” Gilbert says, the advantages include not only an expansive talent pool but also the ability to “optimize salary ranges.”

Similarly, remote-office tools and technology bolster the so-called “gig economy,” which may help address “massive changes in companies and the skills they need,” Gilbert says. For example, manufacturers are beginning to embrace the competitive advantages offered by the Internet of Things. “Now they have to get firmware programmers,” he says. Remote contracting may make sense in those circumstances, and hiring managers need to understand and support the requirements.

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4. Instant interaction. Mobile technology has made social interactions easy and instantaneous, and job candidates expect the same of their potential employers. Natural language processing is a branch of AI that recruiters can leverage to their advantage, particularly in the form of chatbots. The messaging devices are not only well known and widely used, “they’re persistent,” Gilbert says. Which means, having interacted with a strong candidate, “you don’t lose access to that person—I can reach back out and restart that conversation and [the chatbot] will get ahold of you,” he says.

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