How to reignite your talent acquisition team for a GenAI future

Talent acquisition will be augmented - not replaced - by Generative AI. As such, Chris Galy says all CHROs to consider what they need to do to excite their talent teams about what this tech can bring:

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Feb 19, 2024

The arrival of Generative Artificial Intelligence (or GenAI) is – without doubt – one of the biggest disruptions to business since the internet.

GenAI’s meteoric-level impact is only rivaled by its lightning-fast growth.

MarketResearch forecasts the global GenAI HR market will experience a 15.4% compound annual growth rate and spending will double from $477 million in 2023 to $941 million by 2028.

In fact, it’s no understatement to say GenAI is destined to revolutionize the entire talent lifecycle in ways we can’t even fully imagine right now. Already, it influences several key areas of the talent lifecycle and, by this time next year, we’ll probably find it permeating nearly all aspects of talent acquisition as we know it.

But does al this mean GenAI will ultimately take the human out of human resources and talent acquisition in particular? After all, talent acquisition is a people business at its core.

Well, here’s my take on it – Not by a long shot.

In fact, I believe GenAI’s adoption is actually going to open a lot of new doors for talent professionals, both by freeing them up from repetitive, transactional work and by presenting radically new career opportunities.

Here’s why:

What GenAI can and can’t do for talent acquisition

The first use-cases for GenAI today include coaching hiring managers, building balanced slates of candidates, screening and delivering assessments, scheduling interviews, finding hidden talent, personalizing the candidate experience, recommending next steps, flagging errors and non-compliance, reducing bias and predicting trends. GenAI-enabled background screening is also not far around the corner.

But GenAI can’t do everything.

For example, it can’t manage itself.

It will need to have guardrails, context and be auditable and explainable.

It also won’t eliminate human bias, although it will be able to mitigate it when it’s properly trained.

It also can’t replace the art of recruiting.

While it can personalize many aspects of hiring, humans will continue to play a leading role in the candidate experience.

AI-based automation reduces bloat and makes talent acquisition smarter

AI and automation present a major opportunity to propel talent acquisition forward – innovation which has woefully lagged behind in digitization compared to other functions, such as sales, operations and marketing.

Talent teams have historically been hindered by rapid hiring swings where we’re either hiring, not hiring, letting people go and hiring again.

As such, any previous digital tools have tended to get added ad-hoc during these cycles and then go unused down the road as priorities shift.

This wastes a lot of energy and results in a slew of systems that aren’t interconnected.

It’s all too commonplace to find HR teams stuck with 15, 20 or more single-use SaaS apps that frequently go unused and aren’t connected.

As a result, our teams are wasting precious recruiting time maneuvering around these technical inefficiencies.

AI-driven automation, however, is going to allow talent teams to achieve scale and efficiency, build more consistency and predictability into their teams, automate manual tasks that are high volume with low complexity and personalize everything to the highest degree.

GenAI will also give talent professionals new insights that they can bring to conversations with their company’s leaders and allot more time to focus on marketing their company’s value proposition to candidates.

People and leadership needs to be at the core of GenAI shift

The volatile hiring market over the past few years has led to widespread burnout.

Case in point: In our 2023 State of Hiring and Recruiting Study, 73% of talent leaders said they’re burnt out, with many attributing the burnout to unmet goals and inefficient processes.

In the face of these pressures and team members at the cusp of quitting, how can you reignite your talent acquisition team?

Well, GenAI can help pave that path by automating repetitive, manual tasks and giving people more time to do what they love.

As a talent leader, this burgeoning technology gives CHROs the opportunity to rethink and reset what their people teams are doing.

For leaders, this is an opportunity not to be missed.

For leaders and their team members alike, GenAI is a massive career accelerant.

Those possessing GenAI skills or who have completed GenAI projects are in exceedingly high demand and advancing quicker to executive-level positions.

Because of this, it’s critical to keep these early adopters thriving within your organization where you can reap the benefits of their knowledge and enthusiasm.

Paul Baier, CEO and co-founder of GAI Insights and an authority on GenAI, recommends implementing these seven strategies to keep team members interested in GenAI engaged, provide room for them to experiment and learn from their efforts:

–       Acknowledge the reality of GenAI
–       Create space on your team for early adopters
–       Support cross functional GenAI “learning labs”
–       Create multiple levels of ways team members can contribute
–       Define mini GenAI milestones
–       Channel the excitement and energy of GenAI adopters
–       Personally spend five hours using GenAI

This advice is well worth taking notice off, because in addition to augmenting current roles, GenAI will make way for roles of the future, such as prompt engineers, talent acquisition scrum masters, data privacy and ethics managers, data and trend analysts, and candidate experience specialists.

Starting and applying design thinking

According to Traci Wicks, senior VP of talent and HR consulting at Discover Financial Services, it’s important for leaders to get some quick wins under their belts when launching a major initiative involving automation, AI and/or GenAI.

Wicks recommends starting small by picking just one task to automate – it could be candidate searches, job descriptions, candidate chatbots or compensation analysis.

Look for tasks that are most feasible and will have the highest impact on your organization.

This makes the transformation less daunting and provides near-term ROI to drive the next initiative.

After internal discussions, Wicks’ own team decided on interview scheduling as the initial task it would automate because they found it overwhelmingly painful and time consuming to schedule and reschedule time with candidates.

Once an area of focus has been selected, a design-thinking process can help assess the problem and determine the best approach and tools to solve it.

Design thinking starts by completing a problem statement that pinpoints what you’re solving for, who you’re solving for and what you hypothesize you are going to accomplish.

Once this is in place, it’s time to rapidly experiment by prototyping and testing, and continuously improving upon your test.

The insights gained through rapid experimentation are exceedingly helpful when building a business case for your first automations and future GenAI implementations.

GenAI is going to leapfrog current HR technology and shape the future of talent in ways we can only begin to imagine.

Talent teams that transform will thrive, not just survive, and it will have rippling effects throughout the future of their organizations.

Now the time is to consider if you’re ready for an AI-first future.

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