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GenAI Ain’t Smart Enough to Democratize Recruiting

By Peter Weddle, Founder & CEO TAtech

Read the commentary on social media these days (or at least a lot of it) and you’ll find AI described as the great democratizer. According to this view, the technology is a magic wand that can transform each and all of us into recruiting superstars. As wonderful as that would be, it’s simply not true. What AI can do – at least at this stage of its development – is something more modest but no less important to day-to-day recruiting operations. Today’s GenAI is a magnifying glass. It can enhance the capabilities of expert recruiters, but it cannot turn less able recruiters into experts.

Thinking of GenAI as some sort of magic wand capable of eliminating all of the differences among those on a recruiting team is a short cut to disappointment and even a decline in on-the-job performance. In truth, the technology is only as good as each of the individuals who are using it. Prompt it expertly, and the support it provides will be equally as expert. Prompt it with less knowledge and expertise, and you’ll get back a whole lot of verbiage but not nearly as much capability.

That said, it’s easy to see what’s driving this democratization theme. As tech guru Shelly Palmer put it in a recent essay:

“If you don’t know anything about building campfires, a quick prompt such as: “What’s the best way to build a campfire?” will get you a perfectly workable answer. This does, in some minimalistic way, democratize the skill of campfire-building. However, so would a quick Google search. To better illustrate the point, enter a prompt like, ‘What are the musical rules for creating a bebop arrangement?’ You need a fair amount of musical education to understand the answer, let alone follow the instructions.”

Or, to put it another way, GenAI can magnify human capabilities, not create them.

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The Magnifying Glass Approach to GenAI Application

The best way to optimize the return on an investment in GenAI (or a solution that applies it) is to first maximize the expertise of the humans who will use it. The greater their skills and knowledge, the more proficient they will be in:
• directing the technology to outcomes that are actually beneficial and
• using those results to achieve the desired performance improvements.

What does that mean for recruiting teams?

First, GenAI can’t correct bad staffing. Not too long ago, a major HR association did a survey of its membership and found that the largest single cohort was recruiters. When the association dug into the data, they found that a significant number of employers were assigning their new hires in the HR Department to recruiting teams. I’m not sure why they thought that was a good use of their talent, but I am sure that GenAI wouldn’t transform those recent graduates into high performing recruiters. It takes relevant, in-depth experience to put GenAI to work effectively.

And second, GenAI won’t cure bad leadership. Recruiters who are working in poorly designed processes or who are burned out from “doing more with less” will not be able to use GenAI to best advantage. Neither will those recruiters who are allowed to remain on the team even though they lack the skills or the motivation to be full contributors. Or those – both currently on staff when a solution arrives and new additions to the team – who are denied adequate initial and refresher training. It takes organizational competence and commitment to put GenAI to work effectively.

So, if you’re gonna’ invest in GenAI be smart about it. Give it to recruiters where it can magnify the experience, competence and commitment they are ready and able to bring to work each day.

Foor for Thought,

Peter Weddle has authored or edited over two dozen books and been a columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions.