AI and Automated Technologies Transforming the Search for People

AI is enabling search firms to find and evaluate talent with greater accuracy and speed. Rick DeRose, co-founder and managing partner of Acertitude, gives an update on how to balance data tools with people skills.

October 24, 2018 – Artificial intelligence is transforming the face of workforces around the world. For executive recruiters and human resources departments, it has meant a growing number of new, specialized roles to fill and untapped talent to discover.

Gartner, the information technology research firm, says that on one hand, AI will cause millions of jobs to fall by the wayside, especially low-to-mid-level positions. But other experts in the field take the opposite view, saying AI will create jobs at every level, including highly skilled management positions. By 2020, says Gartner, AI will produce more jobs than it eliminates, with a net gain of two million new jobs in 2025.

AI is also enabling search firms to find and evaluate talent with greater accuracy and speed. New recruitment technology can sift through tremendous amounts of data to identify top prospects exponentially faster than any individual, or team for that matter. Some AI applications, meanwhile, allow companies to predict how candidates will perform in a role. Others can assess a prospect’s character, or even the person’s honesty. And it can all be tailored for the nuances of any given organization.

AI and the Human Touch

Rick DeRose, co-founder and managing partner of executive search firm Acertitude, has studied the analytics and big data trends affecting the business world, including the search industry and his firm. And while these are thrilling days for technology, Mr. DeRose is quick to point out the value of the human touch in executive recruitment and the need to balance data tools with people skills.

“As business strategy conversations have turned from data to analytics to AI, our people strategy conversations have, too,” said Mr. DeRose. “We first saw these trends garner attention from CEOs in the early 21st century. Today, they’re at the forefront of board agendas everywhere. The evolution started with clients adding individuals with these skill-sets to a department. Now, we’re helping clients build out entire digital, data or analytics divisions with an executive leader. We also see private equity driving significant investments in this change. With growing demand, this has been a natural extension for our technology practice and my 25-year career in tech and digital recruitment.”

Related: For Executive Search Firms, Analytics Can be a Game Changer

The massive rise in people analytics has opened new opportunities for dedicated leaders in HR analytics. “While there’s a growing pool of talented executives in analytics, we nearly always complement our slate with a ‘challenger profile’ – that is, an A player from a concentric circle who fits the key criteria but brings an outside function or industry perspective,” Mr. DeRose said. “We’ve found that including a challenger profile sparks some of the best dialogue around fit. Clients are looking for breadth and depth in the slate, especially as analytics becomes a priority for the entire business, not exclusively HR.”


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Companies have started looking at the impact of analytics through two strategic lenses: front-end capabilities and back-office capabilities. The impact on HR falls into the latter category, said Mr. DeRose. Back-office analytics are fundamentally changing how HR leaders source and qualify candidates; engage, develop and retain employees; and shape company culture.

Related: How Predictive Analytics Promotes Better Decision Making and Efficiency

“For example, the head of analytics we’re recruiting for a multibillion-dollar consumer products brand will deploy analytics to identify patterns around top-performing salespeople,” Mr. DeRose said. “On the back end, that data can help talent acquisition predict the future performance and fit of candidates. On the front end, it can help in the research and development of new products for top salespeople, optimizing their revenue generation and providing insights to deepen customer engagement,” he said. “The market will continue to see more consulting opportunities as firms like Acertitude bring best practices to employers around discovering, connecting, and empowering brilliant people at work.”

A Hot Topic

While digital transformation has been – and continues to be – a hot topic, it presents one of the biggest opportunities for businesses to reimagine how they organize, recruit, develop, manage, engage and retain talent. “Leveraging big data to compute descriptive, predictive or prescriptive analytics helps leaders better understand their companies and make competitive moves,” said Mr. DeRose. “We’re seeing an explosion of recruitment technology capabilities built on these algorithms, from identifying people based on specific requirements to determining how open someone is to a career change to using video to analyze honesty and character.”

“At Acertitude, we continue to balance a hands-on, ‘human’ approach with data-driven tools and assessments,” Mr. DeRose said. “We use technology to empower our team to advise companies on their unique business and cultural aspects and better assess candidates for competency and cultural fit. However, they will never replace the trusted, personal connections that are at the heart of our business.”

Related: Analytic and Assessment Tools Gain Traction Among Headhunters 

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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