How the Rise of AI has Made Your Human-Centric Skills all the More Valuable

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Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Brett Farmiloe – Cofounder of executive search firm, Y Scouts. His opinions are his own.

Artificial intelligence often conjures images from science fiction movies in which robots take over the world or of job-pocolypses where all jobs are one day taken by machines. While these doomsday scenarios are far from our currently reality, AI has risen valid concerns over the future of work.

In the recruiting world, AI has made waves in the day-to-day of hiring managers in both small companies and large, multinational corporations. It’s automated monotonous, time-consuming tasks like leafing through hundreds of resumes a day and taken over even some more human activities like answering help inquiries.

While hiring processes had been standard for possibly centuries, the internet brought sweeping changes over a few decades with email and online job portals changing the way we screen candidates. Artificial intelligence on the other hand, only took a few short years to gain a foothold and continues to quickly turn traditional hiring practices upside down. Yet despite all these changes, the need for human-centric skills hasn’t gone away. Ultimately, the best judge of a candidate’s qualifications is another human, because the candidate will most likely be working directly with other humans.

Despite company savings in time and money, artificial intelligence has its strengths limited to certain areas. Humans remain the best and most powerful tool for certain areas that technology simply can’t replace. Here are a number of aspects that are better off left for the humans of a company to judge.

When a human trumps AI in the hiring game

Companies still have much to gain from relying on their human hiring workforce. In addition, advantages from hiring don’t just affect the company’s bottom line. Candidate experience through the hiring process impacts an employers’ brand and the type of talent the company attracts in the future.

Candidates are multifaceted human beings

Overall, a candidate’s fit boils down to several aspects, including work experience, personality, goals, strengths and weakness. Any recruiter would agree that their biggest strength, before and after the current technological advancements, has been their ability to network and connect. Hiring isn’t as transactional as it seems from the outside. There’s more to a hiring process than checking off boxes for work qualifications and handing over an offer letter. The candidate’s long-term goals, wellbeing, perception of the company, and impact on company goals and other team members come into play.

Can AI predict how well an employee will get along with other coworkers? Perhaps one day, but for now, the decision makers should still be humans.

Good leaders are empathetic

Candidates applying for leadership and managerial positions should possess a high level of empathy and emotional intelligence. Why? A study on workplace empathy revealed that 87% of CEOs believe a company’s financial success relies partially on workplace empathy. A similar number of HR professionals thought the same. Clearly, there’s a need for empathetic leaders in the workplace, and humans are just the ones to pick up on this nuanced trait. AI picking up on resume keywords and words in conversation will only probe so far. In an executive search, “soft skills” like leadership style and people-skills often hold equal weight to industry knowledge and tenure.

Culture fit matters

One essential pillar of recruiting is screening for culture fit to ensure a candidate will be able to vibe well with the rest of the team and effectively communicate. This idea isn’t just important for company productivity, it matters for employee retention and satisfaction. In fact, 47 percent of active job seekers state that company culture is their main motivator for looking elsewhere.

It’s important to note, however, that even with all the recent awareness of the benefits of hiring for diversity, culture fit still takes diverse traits into account. Culture fit doesn’t necessarily mean that every employee must have the same thought process and values. Instead it means that individual employees should compliment each other to strengthen the company’s overall processes and goals.

If, for example, one of your company values is accountability, recruiters and managers can hand pick the candidates who exhibit that trait in past roles and scenarios. Because these values are so hard to nail down and dependent on the company’s needs at a specific point in time, hiring managers will know how to best identify them on a case-by-case basis.

Data isn’t always quantitative

Certainly, one of artificial intelligence’s main strengths in the recruiting space is its ability to sift through and process big data within seconds. But some traits, like potential, drive, and other soft skills, are difficult, if not impossible, to quantify. Interviews with human recruiters are the prime time to screen for these traits, as well as weaknesses. How you assess these soft skills is left to behavioral interview questions and the expertise of the hiring managers.

Detecting human nuances

One of recruiting’s biggest challenges is navigating around human bias. This bias can involve (not always consciously) choosing a candidate based on personal connection to a name, gender preference, alma mater, or previous work experience. Not every qualified candidate will hold the perfect university degree and number of years in a specific position. Humans can catch those with untraditional backgrounds that still have transferable skills and an excellent ability to grow.

How AI is a good compliment to human screening

Just because artificial intelligence has rapidly been evolving to replace more “human” functions, doesn’t mean that AI will be set to replace human recruiters any time soon.

Recruiting is a people job, not an admin job. It has provided recruiters with assistance in executing administrative talent acquisition tasks like automating resume screening, scheduling interviews, and processing high volumes of applications.

Rather than replace humans, AI has instead freed up time for hiring managers to pursue relationship building. Those hours spent scouring the internet for potential candidates are much better spent doing what humans are best at: making connections. Simply put, AI in hiring speeds up the hiring process, which is a win for all parties involved.

Another benefit of AI is its ability to go deep back into your repertoire of unselected, yet qualified candidates and pull one out for future interviews. This again saves times and helps select qualified candidates quickly and effectively with powerful technology. Similarly, picking out passive candidates from large databases and the internet based on desired traits helps hiring managers cut straight to the interview and human screening portion of the application process.

For the candidate, having automated recruiting processes speeds up the hiring timeline and delivers answers much sooner. Automated assistants or chatbots, for example, can reduce the time it takes for candidates to hear back about troubleshooting on their applications or other general questions.

As we’ve seen in positions across almost all industries, technology advancements and artificial intelligence has had sweeping effects on workers’ day-to-day activities. Despite the automation of many recruiters’ activities, the marriage of AI and recruiters’ human-centric hasn’t displaced humans from the equation. If anything, AI has highlighted humans’ strength in connecting with other humans and the need to approach candidates like living breathing people, not just resumes. By working together, recruiters can continue to leverage AI’s developments to strengthen their recruiting processes.