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outsourced recruiting

How AI Complements (Not Replaces) Sourcers

June 25, 2018

Worried about being replaced by AI in recruiting and sourcing? With the way current media and AI hopefuls are directing the AI narrative, I would be too. Artificial Intelligence has become a looming presence in many job markets, especially talent acquisition because it can outperform humans in practically every field without the hindrance of human error. Many fear the advent of AI is the herald of impending layoffs and company downsizing as new advances in technology worm their way into businesses, replacing the hard-earned positions of many a recruiter and sourcer.

It’s ironic, however, that countless job positions remain vacant and employers still have a hard time reaching out to applicants and maintaining communication with them. Amidst all the doubt and uncertainty regarding the future of human labor as AI continues to grow, employers still have major problems creating and maintaining solid talent acquisition strategies. That’s why we think AI recruitment tools will never fully take the place of the physical human workforce.

Where AI technology is now, it can’t fully replace people. Instead, AI compliments sourcers, recruiters, and talent acquisition positions, and here are the reasons why:

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1. AI automates tasks, not relationship-building.

The best feature about most AI technology associated with talent acquisition is that it can automate the redundant tasks in the recruitment process. For example, some AI software can source quality candidates across social media platforms in a matter of minutes with their high-powered search algorithms. They match experience with interactions to determine the candidate’s fit with the position – a task that would normally take an entire team to complete. With natural language processing, AI-powered chatbots can easily analyze questions and generate accurate responses to questions and queries candidates have. It also allows some chatbots to conduct basic interviews to help weed through large-scale applicant pools.

But does successful automation qualify human sourcers as “obsolete?”

Not in the slightest – it just makes their job easier to manage so they can focus on more difficult tasks like building relationships with candidates and answering in-depth questions from applicants. In a survey conducted by Oracle, 42% of the participants embrace the idea of automation technologies, 48% are already using automation technologies and 40% are planning to implement automation by 2020. However, 43% of adult Americans say they prefer to deal with a real-life assistant, rather than automated software like chatbots. Additionally, in another study, 34% of survey respondents say they would use a chatbot to find a human customer service assistant.

So, in other words, while people are excited to see what AI automation can do for their business, customers and candidates prefer to talk to real people. Human interaction is part of the value of having human capital in your workforce, and it’s something AI can’t replace.


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2. AI integrates easily but isn’t equipped to handle every outcome.

AI technology like CRM software, AI chatbots, and augmented writing software give sourcers the ability to increase their job productivity tenfold. CRM software helps manage candidate relationship-building, AI chatbots answer basic questions and direct candidates along the application path and augmented writing software helps establish accurate candidate pools. While these all sound extremely useful and helpful, they’re not programmed to handle every possible situation and can’t adapt as quickly or as easily as people can.


Say a candidate asks a chatbot a complex question about the company’s position with diversity and inclusion. To be more specific, let’s say the candidate asked the bot where the company stands on workplace equality among gender, religion, cultural background, sexual orientation, etc. and asks for specific examples where the company displayed their values. Since the chatbot cannot answer the specificity of the question (because it wasn’t pre-programmed to register it), it directs the candidate to a physical human representative, AKA the sourcer. The representative can then address the situation properly and provide the necessary information. The chatbot and the sourcer work in unison to complete the task, but the menial tasks along the way are managed by the chatbot’s AI.


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3. AI automates certain jobs and tasks more than others.

Looking deeper into the types of jobs and tasks that AI would automate, we can have a better understanding of where AI affects the workforce. In 2003, Autor et al. looked at the types of tasks AI could automate. They found routine tasks such as calculations, sorting, record-keeping, and finding, etc. were more likely to be automated compared to non-routine tasks, which are less likely to be automated such as medical diagnosis, legal writing, persuading, management, etc.


This affects both unskilled labor and skilled labor in certain areas. Analytics and interactive tasks could be considered semiskilled and skilled labor and manual tasks could be considered as unskilled labor. With analytical and interactive tasks, there are routine tasks which could be automated by AI and non-routine tasks which could be improved with AI. With manual tasks, there are routine tasks which could be automated with AI and non-routine tasks that may be improved or be replaced with AI.

In sum, skilled labor jobs have a better chance of automating their tasks to focus on improving the tasks which can only be done by them. Unskilled labor jobs have a higher chance of being replaced with certain jobs/industries allowing their non-routine functions. However, there is still a barrier for companies to shift from paying workers a lower wage/salary to paying for expensive long-term investment in AI. We don’t expect to see immediate shifts in every industry. Many industries will slowly implement AI.

4. AI provides an opportunity for innovation and advancement.

Since many routine tasks can be automated and many non-routine tasks can be completed more efficiently with the help of AI, this allows fields to progress faster

Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne of Oxford University predicted this will affect the workforce. Time spent completing routine work can now be spent focusing on things like research and development. Skilled workers could focus on building new solutions which, in turn, may create new industries and job opportunities for both unskilled and skilled workers.

A primary example of this is driverless vehicles. While it may never come to fruition, it may affect taxi drivers and even contract workers working for Uber or Lyft. Nonetheless, we still don't know how this will affect these workers and where these jobs would be reallocated.

Another example includes augmented analytics saving data scientists the majority of their work extracting, transforming, and loading data. With AI automating the busywork of data collection and manipulation, workers can interpret the data to make tactical and strategic decisions much faster. This could significantly improve company performance and how quickly companies respond to the market. Company decisions made faster and more accurately, due to AI, could be a catalyst for company performance. Regarding sourcing, it would automate recruiters’ market research and qualification busywork. This would allow them to focus on tasks that can’t be automated, such as in-person interviews.

5. Not all unskilled labor may be worth replacing.

AI either replaces or improves certain jobs and tasks. AI built by developers either focus on certain problems or generalize functions without a deeper solution. For certain unskilled jobs, there are many that may not be worth replacing, unless the machinery is created. A prime example would be trash-services. While driverless vehicles are still a hot topic, automated vehicles to replace waste management workers may not happen for a long time. This is a comprehensive process AI wouldn’t necessarily be able to replace at first. While there still may be future substitutions for jobs like this, we don’t expect to see this anytime soon - at least not in the direct form of AI.

Other jobs that we don’t expect to see AI to take over anytime soon include patient care, education, receptionists, engineers, chefs, landscaping, etc. These jobs are highly dependent on accuracy, personality, and creativity. Some are more comprehensive than others, such as engineers. Personality and social skills are essential for patient care. Culinary artists are known for their creativity. Landscaping holds a degree of accuracy which couldn’t be standardized with AI for multiple households. Many jobs still exist across unskilled and skilled work which people don’t have to worry about their job security anytime soon

For any company, there will always be a need for face-to-face hiring. Many variables go into making hiring decisions, which AI probably won’t ever be able to automate. Culture fit, in-person communication skills, body language, etc. help hiring managers to evaluate if a candidate is the right fit. Recruiters don't need to worry about AI replacing them as companies will always rely on real humans to make the final, most important decisions.

Bottom Line: AI can’t fill the need for human interaction.

While many speculate AI is still in the beginning stages of its developmental crescendo, it will be a long time before it can accurately “think” on its own. In the meantime, the human brain still functions as the best thought-processing mechanism at our disposal. We, as humans, are a social species, and we crave interaction with other people. While AI helps to accomplish and simplify a vast number of tasks, its current purpose is to integrate with human capital, not submerge it beneath the waves of change.

Your company isn’t quite yet ready to get AI involved in your hiring strategy…but what about humans? Your business is ready to scale, but your recruitment team doesn’t have the bandwidth to source, hire, and onboard a whole slew of sourcers. That’s where IQTalent comes in. Reach out to our team and see how we latch on to your in-house recruitment model (or help you build one) for faster, more efficient hiring turnaround.

Post updated March 27, 2019 

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