Today’s operating environment demands that companies turn talent acquisition into a competitive advantage, and artificial intelligence is key a stepping stone toward this goal. In this article, I draw on my more than two decades in HR tech as well as the expertise of other leaders to explain:
In this article:
HR pros often use the terms recruitment and talent acquisition (TA) interchangeably, but there are crucial differences. Recruitment focuses on filling current vacancies while TA is strategic, cyclical, and long-term. Long-range workforce planning and finding specialists, top executives, and strategically important talent are critical pieces of talent acquisition.
Differences between Recruitment and Talent Acquisition
Keep Operations Running
Fuel Growth, Innovation
Fill Current Vacancies
Find Specialists, Senior Executives, Future Leaders, Strategically Important Talent
AI talent acquisition harnesses the ability of artificial intelligence to derive insights from large amounts of data and automate much of the labor-intensive, repetitive work that goes into hiring talent. The result is a more intelligence-driven process that empowers recruiters to foster stronger relationships with candidates.
“We are seeing more usage of AI tools that make recruiters smarter. It’s not just about automating the work,” says Ben Eubanks of Lighthouse Research & Advisory. “AI helps us be more targeted and engage more of the right people.”
AI-powered computers can apply human-like reasoning to problems, and these systems get progressively better because they “learn” through exposure to data without human intervention. For details on key aspects of artificial intelligence such as neural networks, data mining, machine learning, and deep learning, read our guide to AI recruitment.
TA comprises eight key dimensions. Artificial intelligence is helping HR departments perform better in all of them, though rollout is at varying stages depending on the process. Talent acquisition AI automates manual work, helps HR staff cultivate relationships, personalizes the candidate and employee experience, spots trends in data, and provides insights and predictions that drive better decisions.
AI proponents liken the power to apply machine learning to talent management to Moneyball for HR, referring to the best-selling book about how Oakland Athletics manager Billy Beane used statistical modeling to build a winning roster that didn’t cost much. Machine learning underpins data analytics that drives better decision-making and stronger talent acquisition.
Here are the eight primary aspects of the full talent acquisition process and how AI comes into play.
AI applications are improving workforce planning by helping companies analyze and make better decisions about the following:
You can model various scenarios with changing variables.
Effective talent acquisition requires a firm grasp on the different groups or segments that make up your workforce. You can look at your staff in various ways such as age, years of experience, skillset, education, geographic location, diversity factors, generation, job role, or performance level. Artificial intelligence strengthens segmentation by automating the process and removing human bias. These powerful applications can view your workforce according to an unlimited number of segments of any size and find hidden patterns. Understanding the make-up of your staff is useful for personalizing training and messaging to your various categories of people. This knowledge can also help you achieve progress on goals such as reducing turnover among minority staff or developing compensation and incentive programs that appeal to different generational attitudes toward work.
AI supports employer branding in several ways. AI-powered engagement scales and delivers a consistent message, making sure your brand resonates. AI-driven systems offer career hubs that elevate your brand and provide features that build connections with potential applicants such as custom landing pages and networking sites.
AI also backs targeted social media campaigns to reinforce your brand with analytics that help you see which messaging is effective. Similarly, AI can help you personalize email marketing and make sure it’s a powerful branding vehicle. AI chatbots answer questions 24/7, help potential candidates get to know your company and reduce friction in the recruiting process.
Talent acquisition differs from broader recruiting in that the roles being filled are generally strategic to the organization, and the volume of hiring is usually smaller. High-volume recruiting of individual contributors, such as cashiers in a retail operation or tellers at banks, does not fall within the narrow definition of talent acquisition; though many HR people apply the term to all kinds of hiring.
Artificial intelligence has reshaped recruitment more than any other aspect of talent acquisition. AI-driven tools automate much of the repetitive work involved in recruiting, such as scheduling interviews. These solutions increase recruiters’ effectiveness by sourcing “hidden” and passive candidates, analyzing facial expressions and sentiment during interviews, removing bias from job ads, predicting best fit, and more.
AI streamlines the onboarding process and helps the new hire build rapport with managers, coworkers, and the organization. According to research by Brandon Hall Group, a robust onboarding process improves new hire retention by 82 percent and productivity by 70 percent.
Specifically, AI-powered tools can automate the onboarding workflow by performing background checks, generating offer documents, circulating documents such an employee handbook, and providing information on benefits and vacation and sick time policies.
AI solutions can set up the new hire’s system credentials, verify their permissions are correct for their role, assign a computer, create an email address, and task facilities with preparing a workspace. Orientation meetings and relationship building flow from the solution by identifying the people whom the new employee needs to talk to, setting up welcome coffee dates with colleagues, and scheduling time with senior executives.
AI-driven applications greatly simplify the talent acquisition training process and augment the in-person orientation provided by the employee’s manager and colleagues. These solutions make it easy to personalize training for each individual, and the system can deliver video or other online learning, freeing HR staff time.
AI-customized modules can cover seniority-related company policies on remote working, performance review, confidentiality requirements, benefits including stock options and wellness programs, and role-specific training such as objectives, KPIs, and resources. AI chatbots can answer routine questions.
AI excels at several functions related to staff retention and talent development, starting with its role of ensuring the candidate was a good fit for the job in the recruitment phase. AI solutions improve performance management and other aspects of the EVP.
AI-powered solutions can frequently and seamlessly gather feedback on a staff member’s performance so that reviews do not have to wait for a quarterly or annual cycle. This enables mid-course correction and more regular recognition of superior performance. Data analytics can pinpoint patterns such as the occurrence of missed deadlines when Bill and Sam collaborate on projects but not when Bill works with Jillian.
AI solutions for talent development offer personalized modules for career guidance, outreach when new work opportunities match their interests and career goals, customized learning, and help define a career path. IBM says its Watson Career Coach, using a natural language chatbot, reduces turnover and hiring costs, increases employee engagement, and aligns business goals and staff career goals.
Artificial intelligence also assists by confirming that pay, promotions, and raises are equitable and consistent across teams and departments, and not subject to bias or an executive’s personal preferences. Compensation analytics enable you to keep salaries in line with the market, so that an employee does not leave because she is underpaid.
AI solutions can also look for signals of poor employee engagement or job hunting. A sudden pattern of late arrivals or negative sentiment word choice in email give you an opportunity to intervene. IBM says its artificial intelligence can predict with 95 percent accuracy when workers are planning to leave and prescribes action to prevent attrition. AI can also remind managers when a staff member is ready for a new challenge or upskilling.
AI has revolutionized analytics in talent acquisition. Data collection and analysis once required cumbersome data entry and manual spreadsheets. Now, AI systems make it extremely easy to gather information and apply modeling, algorithms, and analysis though you need staff with the skills to execute and interpret the information.
According to a study by LinkedIn, the top three ways that companies are using their data are: 56 percent to increase retention, 50 percent to evaluate skills gaps, and 50 percent to build better offers.
AI solutions can empower you to make data-driven talent decisions based on employee pulse surveys, demographic information, recruitment benchmarks, staff aptitude and assessment data, salary, incentive and promotion trends, performance reviews, retention rates, workforce planning, and more. For example, analytics can help identify causes for attrition, the attributes of the highest-performing employees, which departments will need more staff for a new product launch, and where the biggest skills gaps lie.
Talent management refers to your organization’s overarching strategy for recruiting, developing, and retaining top team members. AI in talent management helps companies be more effective by reducing the time spent on low-value administrative work, making recruitment a competitive advantage, and increasing retention.
Talent management reflects a mindset shift from traditional HR in which the focus is on matching candidates to current vacancies and the administrative aspects of pay and benefits. Fifty-six percent of CEOs and chief human resources officers said in a survey by Harris Interactive that their current talent programs are ineffective. AI has a strong potential to improve those results.
AI enables HR to make smarter decisions and gives staff more time to pay attention to strategic priorities that call for emotional intelligence, such as building culture, employer branding, and aligning hiring with values. Artificial intelligence supports this work by providing actionable data insights.
AI talent assessments evaluate a candidate’s skills, personality, and attributes better, faster, and more inexpensively than traditional surveys and questionnaires. AI assessments include work simulations, video analysis, psychometric evaluations, and tests of situational judgment.
AI tools can adapt their content mid-assessment based on candidate behavior and can be customized for the hiring parameters of a particular role. AI also automates scoring assessments and seamlessly integrates the results into candidate profiles.
AI assessments can promote diversity efforts because results are more objective and free from bias. Companies that use AI assessments say they increase performance and retention while reducing time and cost to hire.
While the promise of AI-driven talent acquisition is high, HR leaders are under pressure to show that these solutions can positively impact key performance indicators. Let’s look at some specific examples.
Hilton seamlessly integrated an AI recruiting solution with its applicant tracking system (ATS), so that the hiring process became completely automated with the ATS updated in real time in one workflow. This application increased the offers extended per recruiter each week by 83 percent. Recruiting Director Amber Weaver shares that automated scheduling of offer calls saves 15 minutes of manual work per applicant.
Similarly, convenience store chain Speedway uses AllyO to automate the process of qualifying and scheduling candidates with hiring managers, which previously took six to seven hours a week per manager. Candidate interviews are scheduled in less than five minutes.
Restaurant chain Maggiano’s Little Italy struggled to fill vacant positions in a vibrant job market. When they implemented the AI-powered tool from AllyO the company was able to broaden its audience, automate screening and scheduling, and reduce its time to interview.
AI’s Impact on Talent Acquisition KPIs
According to LinkedIn’s survey of recruiters and hiring managers, 67 percent say AI is helping them save time, and 43 percent say it is removing human bias. Fifty-eight percent found AI most helpful when sourcing candidates, 56 percent in screening, and 55 percent in nurturing candidates. Seventy-eight percent of companies are prioritizing diversity to improve culture, LinkedIn found.
AI driven communication, scheduling with candidates, including via mobile
Better candidate experience, more interviews scheduled in less time
Improved cost, time to hire, higher candidate conversion rate, shorter ramp-up time for new hires
Better match of candidates to roles, improved diversity
Demographic data, higher ratio of interview to hire, quality of hire metrics
Improved employee experience
Reduced turnover, employee satisfaction survey outcomes
More efficient use of resources, improved tracking of market forces
Employee satisfaction, fewer over- or under-paid staff
Chatbots for employee support
Answers available 24/7 with fewer staff
Higher employee satisfaction scores, lower support costs
Staff skills align more closely with business needs, better learning outcomes
Higher productivity, more training completed, higher satisfaction ratings for training
Streamline new employee orientation
Reduced turnover, lower labor costs for onboarding, higher productivity and satisfaction among new hires
When tasked with recruiting strategic talent and senior executives, talent acquisition leaders seek every possible edge, so they are turning to AI. Strategic talent usually refers to executives, staff with unique, pivotal, or in-demand skillsets, and team members tracked for growth into top leadership roles. These people are inundated by recruiters.
AI helps you cultivate, attract, and connect with these individuals as well as develop an enticing opportunity that wins them over. Here are some of the ways that you can apply AI to the challenge of recruiting executives and other key talent:
As artificial intelligence is rapidly evolving, companies and researchers are seeking to understand its role, limitations, and impact. Research done so far has illuminated some key findings:
Companies and their recruiters face many challenges in acquiring the talent they need to thrive. Organizations that embrace AI-powered technology can distinguish themselves from their competitors.
Top-of-mind hurdles for talent acquisition and how AI addresses:
It’s clear that artificial intelligence can make your talent acquisition process smarter. Many tools are plug and play, so implementation is straightforward. Before diving in, understand some limitations and best practices, so your AI launch goes smoothly.
Recruiting is a popular starting point for artificial intelligence in talent acquisition because of its big potential for efficiency and improvement. To learn how you can reduce time and cost to hire while improving candidate engagement and quality of hire, check out AllyO’s AI recruitment solution. Customers including Avid Budget and Brinker International have discovered how AllyO’s conversational AI helps employers identify more qualified candidates, automate repetitive workflows, and derive actionable insights from data.
AllyO’s AI automated hiring solution enables conversational job matching across all talent acquisition channels, intelligently qualifies the candidate specifically for the best-fit role, automates interview scheduling and post-interview interactions, drives retention through post-hire check-ins, and gathers actionable insights to improve overall recruiting performance.
Backed by leading investors such as Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI fund), Randstad Innovation Fund, Sapphire Ventures, Bain Capital Ventures, Cervin Ventures, and Scale Venture Partners, and used by Fortune 500 enterprises. AllyO customers have experienced a 2-6X increase in applicant capture and conversion rate, 91 percent application completion rate, and over 50 percent reduction in cost and time to hire. Discover how to streamline your recruiting process and create a more productive HR team with AllyO.
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