Tag Archives: staffing software

Rise of the Staffing & Recruiting Machines: The Rush to AI-driven HR Technology

Part 1: Ever since John McCarthy coined the term “Artificial Intelligence” in 1955, we’ve been alternately fascinated (“Hello, Siri”) and dismayed (“I’ll be back”) by what AI may offer or foreshadow. How will AI impact the staffing and recruiting industry over the next twenty years?

A new “industrial-age” of AI-based business disruptions?

AI (artificial intelligence) and its impact on staffing and recruitingThe industrial-age leveraged the use of fossil-fueled mechanical power to enable more work to be done by fewer people. It also brought with it major disruptions in virtually every industry. Wherever there was an opportunity to reduce the cost of goods, or speed delivery, or improve quality, machines were invented that were better at performing those tasks and replacing people in the process.

We are now well into the information age, and the use of machines capable of being programmed to emulate even more human-like functions has led to advances that extend those industry disruptions. Intelligent automation is capable of replacing virtually any human activity comprised of repeated steps, as it has in robotized manufacturing. It seems that only in economies where the cost of labor is lower than that of the necessary automation can humans still be found on many manufacturing lines.

But there is more on the horizon. As the cost of computing power decreases, and the power of AI-based software and big-data analysis increases, more and more “human-only” jobs will be targeted for replacement to improve efficiencies and reduce costs. While we may be decades (or even centuries) from a true “Strong AI” capable of human-like thought, “Weak AI” or Applied AI is with is today. Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and IBM’s Watson are all examples of Applied AI systems.

Siri and Cortana may be pretty good “virtual assistants,” for your smartphone but they pale in comparison to what Watson is doing right now. After crushing top human Jeopardy players, Watson is now focusing on industries where its capability for analyzing unstructured data (a particularly “human” skill) can be put to good use.

Backed by billion-dollar-plus investments, Watson is the centerpiece of a new IBM business unit, Watson Health, that has partnered with Apple and major healthcare players to set the lofty goal of leveraging Watson’s cognitive capabilities to create “new health-based offerings that leverage information collected from personal health, medical and fitness devices” providing “better insights, real-time feedback and recommendations to improve everything from personal health and wellness to acute and chronic care.”

That’s all well and good – we will all be better served with lower cost and more accurate delivery of healthcare – but really, how seriously should we take AI systems?

Really seriously. That business recognizes the potential opportunities that Applied Ai represents can be seen in the investments being made in AI. “The way software is eating the world today, well, AI will do that to software,” says Amir Husain, CEO of Spark Cognition, an AI security startup in Austin, Texas. In 2014 alone, startups developing artificial intelligence systems saw a 302% increase in funding, and since then there has been a constant stream of announcements about new AI applications or investments.

For example, Elon Musk and partners are investing a billion dollars to establish an “Open AI” not-for-profit foundation whose goal is to develop AI system technology – and then give it away to anyone who wants it. And it’s not just startups who are investing. IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Intel, Facebook, Google, and Amazon are among the big players who have announced (or have rumored) big investments in AI.

Applied AI will have a big impact on staffing and recruiting

Similarly, and more relevantly to staffing, recruiting, and HR practices, massive investments in AI and related HR technologies are being made here as well. In 2014 $1.9 Billion was invested in HR technology and venture-backed investments were on track for $2.8 Billion in 2015. Who knows what 2016 will bring?

The promise of AI or similar technologies that might improve the efficiency of hiring is not lost on staffing companies. For example, Recruit Holdings, one of the top staffing enterprises in the world, is investing in technology startups through its subsidiary Recruit Strategic Partners. Its focus is on investing in innovative startups from all around the world to support their companies. HackerRank is one of these startup investments, and HackerRank is using AI to create and develop “gamified” coding challenges for software programmers as a candidate sourcing tool.

Somewhat like Watson, another startup, Connectifier, (recently acquired by LinkedIn) solves the recruiting headaches of out-of-date candidate information, using AI to build meaningful candidate profiles from unstructured data and then matching job requirements to candidates with desired skills.

As HackerRank, Connectifier and other point solutions prove, there are plenty of opportunities for AI to improve on recruiting efficiency, such as providing recruiters with AI “virtual assistants.”

In fact, it’s apparent to some that AI will be a foundation for recruiting with semantic search, people data analytics, real time monitoring of performance and behavior, augmented reality tools to assist during interviews, and decision making aided by “cultural fit” analysis.

And that’s all great to hear. Faster, more efficient, more accurate, better fitting, (and less costly) recruiting and staffing of talent.

But will AI systems replace recruiters, staffing coordinators, sales representatives, or me?

What about all the jobs in a typical recruiting or staffing office? How will AI impact those jobs in recruiting, sales, or even management? Jobs that presumably require more thoughtfulness, creativity, intuition, or people-skills?

AI Disruption AheadFrankly, recruiters and many other recruiting and staffing agency jobs are not safe from the efficiencies that may be delivered by Applied AI systems.

Of course, staffing and recruiting agency personnel aren’t alone as targets for AI replacement. Almost half of all jobs in the Western world (47%) could be automated by computers within the next two decades according to research by The Economist and researchers from the University of Oxford’s Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology. Even management positions are a target for AI-based systems. In just five to 10 years, AI-based systems will likely be able to do many managerial tasks more effectively than humans, says Bob Thomas, the managing director of Accenture Strategy. “We are entering a different kind of technological era,” he says — one in which robots play a much bigger role at work.

But there are caveats. The “low-hanging fruit” for AI systems are jobs that are by their nature repetitive and analytical. As the research points out, human social intelligence is important in a wide range of work tasks, such as those involving negotiation, persuasion and care. These are areas of human capability that are very relevant, but not critical, to staffing and recruiting – as they center on person-to-person communication and relationships. Yet these, too, are valid targets for Applied AI. To aid the computerization of such tasks, active research is being undertaken within the fields.

In analyzing the AI-based job replacement potential, the research indicates that service, sales, and administrative support are most likely to be replaced by AI systems in the next two decades. Not surprisingly, those coincide with the job titles and roles for most of the internal staff at staffing and recruiting agencies.

So, yeah. If you’re working for a staffing and recruiting agency, you may be replaceable (or at least significantly augmented) by an AI system in the future. But there’s a lot more to it. Stay tuned.


Part two: “Rise of the Staffing & Recruiting Machines: No (Human) Recruiters Needed” explores how AI-based systems might change today’s staffing and recruiting industry model.

Phil McCutchen is a B2B software marketing professional with 25-years of experience in the staffing and recruiting industry. The observations and predictions presented here are based on his own research and future thinking and represent his own opinions.

15 Signs You’re Working With a Staffing Software Leader

Think about the very best staffing software you’ve ever used.

15 attributes of a staffing software leaderMaybe (hopefully) it’s what you’re using today. Maybe you’re a bit wistful about some software you used previously. (I’ll admit that I sometimes miss the simplicity and ease-of-use of MacDraw.) Or maybe you’re fantasizing about (or actively working toward) the NEXT staffing software you’ll buy.

Regardless of what that software was/is/will-be, the very best staffing and recruiting software vendor for your agency will probably have these 15 key attributes.

1. They Share Their Vision

The most important thing a software vendor can do is share with you their goal – vision – for what the software will do for your business now. And in the future. A great software vendor will advocate for something worthy that you, too, can enthusiastically embrace. They will ensure that they communicate that vision effectively and often.

2. They Develop – and Extend – Their Expertise

Nothing is more detrimental to the continuing success of your agency than being chained to a software vendor who doesn’t truly understand your changing agency needs. They have to demonstrate exceptional competency at all levels of staffing, recruiting, agency practices, and how all of that is impacted by technology if you expect them to provide leadership and vision.

3. They Respect Your Time

Great staffing software vendors understand that software exists to solve problems. And the single most important problem to be solved in any staffing and recruiting agency is time management. Every second counts. And how their software works should reflect that thinking.

4. They Set Priorities

When your staffing and recruiting software vendor tries to focus on everything, they’re probably not focusing on your business. Just as your own staffing agency can achieve higher profit margins with a focus on niche staffing, so too will you benefit from a staffing and recruiting software vendor who is focused completely on your industry.

5. They Share Information

With some staffing and recruiting software vendors, it seems that the only time you hear from them is when they bill you. Or when you call for support. It seems like they’re keeping you in the dark about their business and how it might impact yours. There are legitimate reasons to control the timing of information sharing, but overall the more transparent a staffing software vendor is, the better it is for the partnership and relationship.

6. They Make Decisions

Frequently, staffing and recruiting software vendors may explore new technologies that seem appropriate for your agency, yet be slow in the development of the new tech. Regardless of the reasons (and there are many that can impact development), a great staffing software vendor will recognize when it’s time to act and go all-in or fold ‘em on some new tech.

7. They Demonstrate Empathy

Great staffing and recruiting software vendors are able to see things through your eyes. They will seek to truly understand the things that keep you up at night. And will want to fix it. ASAP.

8. They Offer Thanks

Building a culture of gratitude starts at the top. If your staffing and recruiting software vendor doesn’t take time to offer thanks to you for your ongoing business, why should you continue to do business with them?

9. They Pull Everyone Together

A great staffing and recruiting software vendor recognizes the talents, skills, and expertise of customers like you, and strives to work with you in a way that maximizes your combined effectiveness and ultimate success.

10. They Ask Smart Questions

Staffing software vendors that double-check their assumptions sends the positive message that they know that they don’t know everything. They aren’t willing to accept that things should be done a certain way just because that’s how they’ve been done in the past.

11. They Sell Thoughtfully

Let’s face it; your agency may not be the best fit for a particular staffing and recruiting software. After all, most can trace their development roots to a staffing and recruiting agency with a particular focus or mind-set that just might not fit your agencies’ business model. The great staffing and recruiting software vendors will let you know that before you’ve wasted much time trying to convince yourself otherwise.

12. They Accept Blame

Principled staffing and recruiting software vendors accept blame for their failings. Maybe they don’t dwell on it, but they accept it. Great staffing and recruiting software vendors look to change their software and/or business processes to fix the problem(s) and move forward.

13. They Communicate Effectively

No mumbling, no backpedaling, no long awkward silences. Great staffing and recruiting software vendors find the words to explain what they mean — and they back up what they say.

14. They Model Ethical Behavior

Trust is the single most important currency between people – and businesses. Great staffing and recruiting software vendors demonstrate an iron-clad adherence to ethical and moral business practices and processes.

15. They Strive for Excellence

Because really, who wants their staffing and recruiting software to simply be adequate?


© Phil McCutchen, 2016 | Phil McCutchen is a B2B software marketing professional with 25-years of experience in the staffing and recruiting industry.

10 Ways to Motivate Your Recruiting and Staffing Team

staffingteamEmployee turnover is historically a big problem for recruiting and staffing managers.

You finally get your dream team in place and what happens? John goes to grad school, Sarah moves across the country and Larry joins the circus – or so he said. LinkedIn shows that he’s at the agency across town. Ouch!

So what can managers do, here and now, to keep their team satisfied? Although there’s no fail-safe way to ensure your team sticks around, here are 10 ways to keep your team happy. At least until they feel drawn to become a lion tamer. Or kindergarten teacher? Same difference!

  1. Start Off Right. Managers are busy, but onboarding is crucial to making new employees at your agency feel welcome and ready to get to work. “The last statistic I read indicated [turnover] is around 53 percent,” says Amy Munroe, staffing eTrainer. “The attention span of learners is much shorter than it used to be, and eight hours in a classroom environment is not always the best use of time and money.”
  2. Make training ongoing. Promote a culture of learning at your staffing company. Amy Bingham, staffing industry sales consultant and trainer, suggests you create a list of topics that need regular reinforcement. These might include overcoming client objections, and train on those issues consistently.
  3. Give feedback of value. “Use the sandwich method in your coaching sessions: what they’re doing well, what needs more attention and wrapping up with a reinforcement of what they’re doing well again,” says Bingham. “The best way to ensure training is retained and implemented is to keep it alive through continuous learning, aka coaching.” Staffing software can give you feedback via metrics that highlight staffing activities, such as interviews completed or jobs submitted. You’re able to spot red flags early and intervene if employees are struggling.
  4. Explain the big picture. When managers share comprehensive agency goals and strategies with their team, the team has a better understanding of the importance of their roles. Setting goals for the team and tracking movement toward them can boost their feelings of accomplishment as a team.
  5. Keep meetings short. Many employees feel that meetings are a waste of time – they’d rather be out selling and recruiting. Keep your meetings short, sweet and relevant.
  6. Look at yourself. The saying goes that people join companies and leave managers. Be sure to educate yourself in an ongoing manner on how to retain top performers. Be tuned into individuals’ learning styles and personalities – if your star recruiter is an “S” on the DISC assessment, for example, don’t raise your voice or yell at her or you’ll lose your employee.
  7. Empower employees. Top performers should feel empowered to solve problems and overcome challenges without being micromanaged. As a manager, you need to determine how to balance being helpful with getting out of your employees’ way.
  8. Develop your team. Create opportunities for your team to move forward in their careers. For example, carve out time for your top salesperson to develop training for the rest of the team or pay for outside educational courses or leadership seminars. Keep your team learning and growing so they stay happy.
  9. Recognize successes. Motivate your employees by recognizing their latest achievements. Recognize individuals who improve performance in addition to the top performers so the newest members of your team feel acknowledged and happy.
  10. Provide helpful tools. Make sure your team has staffing software that makes their jobs and lives easier, not more difficult. Recruiting software that streamlines tasks, allows for mobile access anywhere and automatically synchs will help your team work faster and smarter. When they see results – higher sales and placements – which equates to higher revenue, they’ll be more likely to stay.

Don’t allow your top performer to change careers and become an official elephant dresser. Keep your best performers by keeping them happy.