How AI Helps Answer the Talent Questions That Matter Most

November 17, 2017

Human instincts have always been crucial for recruiting, managing and retaining talent. At LinkedIn, we believe they always will be. At our Talent Intelligence Summit in London last week (#talentintelsummit), the importance of honing these instincts was discussed among more than 800 people in attendance. The big question for us: how can we help talent professionals augment those instincts, in a rapidly evolving talent landscape?

Businesses face increasingly complex challenges where sourcing and retaining the right talent is concerned. To meet these challenges, recruiters don’t just need more data to work with. By itself, more data can mean more time sifting through it looking for answers, and less time engaging quality talent. What talent professionals really need are greater insights.

LinkedIn will help deliver these insights by leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) to transform every stage of recruiting and talent management. I know from conversations at the event that AI can generate mixed feelings – it can transform people’s potential through new opportunities, but it can also threaten to displace jobs. But I’m convinced that the brightest future for talent professionals involves embracing the potential of AI to transform their roles – and in turn help transform the talent they hire.

There were many attendee questions which resonated with me – here are some thoughts on them today:

How will your business adapt to the rise of AI and automation?

Possibly the greatest change in the world of work and recruitment will be AI. McKinsey Global Institute estimates that 46% of the activities in Europe’s top five economies are already susceptible to automation – not in the near future, but right now. AI will undoubtedly impact white-collar jobs every bit as much as blue-collar ones.

Talent professionals will need to understand which roles will be disrupted, which can evolve to make a meaningful contribution in an AI-driven world, and how to develop the skills of the people involved to make that contribution. This involves a far greater depth of insight into employees and potential employees than recruiters have had available to them in the past.

Where will you find the skills you need?

In Amsterdam, it’s a lack of mobile development skills. In Stockholm, it’s a shortage of web programmers. In London, it’s a serious shortfall in programmers skilled in perl, python and ruby. Europe isn’t just suffering from one skills gap. It’s experiencing many different skills gaps, in specific locations, at specific points in time. These gaps result from a lack of mobility amongst professionals and an asymmetry of information. Workers, who have the right skills, don’t know where the jobs are and recruiters, who have relevant opportunities, don’t know where the talent is. Where talent itself becomes less mobile, talent strategies must become nimbler in response.

What does the nature of work now look like?

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, 90 million people worldwide would consider independent, contracted work as their primary source of employment – an alternative to a traditional, permanent role. The rise of independent working has been driven by millennials, who seek greater flexibility and autonomy in how they balance work and life. It isn’t slowing down any time soon.

Businesses will need to consider a wider range of working relationships – and they’ll need a far more nuanced understanding of what motivates the talent they are interested in. This requires going below the surface of the data to understand prospects on a deeper level.

How can you tell what potential candidates are thinking?

LinkedIn data shows us that today’s professionals aren’t just interested in new opportunities at a specific moment in time. They constantly challenge themselves as to whether they’re in the right place professionally – and they are always interested in a relevant recommendation for their next career move.

Securing the talent you need involves catering to this curiosity and appetite for exploration. The ability to make intuitive recommendations, through AI-driven analysis of behaviour patterns, is one of the most important ways in which we are evolving the jobs experience on LinkedIn.

How will you find competitive advantage?

LinkedIn’s VP of Talent Solutions, Dan Shapero, tells a great story about how his father received a promotion at work in the 1980s, and was handed the most confidential document the company possessed: its internal phone book. Businesses used to believe that such information in the wrong hands would be catastrophic: making talent visible invited the competition to poach it.

Today, being able to see talent is no longer any source of competitive advantage. Everyone has the same data available – and advantage needs to come from interpreting it faster and more intuitively. That’s why this next generation of AI-driven recruitment tools is so important.

How will you elevate the talent conversation?

The human brain is the source of our individuality. The best way to drive meaningful differentiation and competitive advantage is to give it play in the way that you develop your strategy. That means freeing recruiters and talent managers from thinking about keywords and other repetitive, search-orientated tasks – and elevating their role within organisations. That’s the best way to ensure talent professionals continue to deliver uniquely human value to their organisations – and stay ahead of the disruption that AI will inevitably bring. Ironically, the best way to do so is through enlisting the power of AI itself. We’re proud to be in a position to help talent professionals do exactly that.

Are these questions that your business is asking? How are you setting about answering them? We’d love to hear your views on bringing insight and instincts together.

It’s clear to me that AI driven insights, combined with human instincts, will make a powerful combination.

Watch this space too for more insights in our upcoming eBook, The Future of Talent Intelligence.

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