Using ChatGPT for Executive Search

Artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT are making significant inroads into executive search processes, including helping to craft persuasive job descriptions. Gertjan Van de Groep, global president of International Executive Search Federation (IESF), recently addressed how AI can enhance one’s capabilities as a recruiter.

June 8, 2023 – As technology continues to disrupt traditional ways of doing business, artificial intelligence is playing a significant role in a variety of sectors, including the executive recruitment industry. One of these AI tools is ChatGPT, an advanced language model developed by OpenAI. With its ability to read, comprehend, generate, and respond to human language accurately, this tool offers recruiters unique ways to augment executive search processes. A new article from Gertjan Van de Groep, global president of International Executive Search Federation (IESF) and country manager Netherlands, shares some of those possibilities.

“Remember, the goal of using AI in this capacity is not to fully automate the process, but to enhance your capabilities as a recruiter,” Mr. Van de Groep said. “You still bring valuable human judgement to the table, but with AI tools like ChatGPT, you can streamline the process and focus your energy on what truly matters: finding and attracting the best talent.”

Crafting a Job Description

Crafting a persuasive job description is an art that can significantly impact your ability to attract top talent, according to Mr. Van de Groep. “Fortunately, with the assistance of ChatGPT, this process can be made more straightforward and effective,” he said. “With ChatGPT’s ability to process vast amounts of information, it can help ensure that your job description is comprehensive. You can ask the AI to list the details you need to include, such as the role’s responsibilities, necessary qualifications, and skills, benefits, company culture, and more.”

Different industries and companies have their unique language and tone when communicating. Mr. Van de Groep explains that you can leverage ChatGPT to generate job descriptions that fit the specific language style, tone, and vernacular your target candidates are familiar with. “To ensure inclusivity, it is crucial to avoid biased or discriminatory language in your job descriptions,” he said. “ChatGPT can review your job descriptions and suggest edits to replace or remove potentially biased language, promoting fairness and inclusivity. In the digital age, keyword optimization is crucial for job descriptions to be discoverable by the right candidates. ChatGPT can help you identify the most relevant and commonly searched keywords that should be included in your job description, increasing its visibility to potential candidates.”

First Screening

The second stage of recruitment usually involves sifting through numerous applications, Mr. Van de Groep says. “ChatGPT can expedite this process by automating initial anonymous candidate screening. ChatGPT can also be integrated within your current database/system,” he said. “It seems you can teach the model to recognize essential qualifications, experiences, and skills from candidate resumes. Not only does this allow for swift filtering of relevant applications, but it also lets recruiters focus on more strategic tasks.”

Gertjan Van de Groep is managing director at Van de Groep & Olsthoorn. He focuses on general, commercial and technical staff and management positions in industry, technology and logistics. Mr. Van de Groep is also the global president of International Executive Search Federation (IESF) and country manager Netherlands.

Mr. Van de Groep also notes that while the incorporation of AI into recruitment processes can offer numerous advantages, it’s crucial to remember the responsibilities that come along with it. He explains that this includes adhering to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules and regulations when using tools like ChatGPT. OpenAI’s design for ChatGPT ensures that no candidate details are stored or shared, maintaining full compliance with GDPR. Additionally, it is essential to inform candidates about any AI usage in the process.

“Currently executive searchers are not using this tool for screening, but it might be a possibility in the future when regular reviews of AI outputs are integrated in your process,” Mr. Van de Groep said. “These are necessary to ensure fairness, accuracy, and compliance with all relevant laws and ethical standards. For executive search firms it’s not only about taking steps towards improving efficiency and outcomes, but also about demonstrating your commitment to privacy, fairness, and respect for personal data. These values that are increasingly important in today’s digital world.”

Candidate Communication

In today’s fast-paced world, recruiters say that candidates expect quick responses. “Fortunately, ChatGPT can provide real-time engagement by handling candidate inquiries,” said Mr. Van de Groep. “It can answer questions about the job profile, company culture, or application process. This always-on communication approach can significantly improve the candidate experience, keeping top talent engaged throughout the recruitment journey. Effective recruitment relies heavily on maintaining an organized and updated database.”

Related: How AiFlow Is Integrating ChatGPT Large Language Models Into Private Equity

Mr. Van de Groep also says that ChatGPT can help manage your candidate database, track interactions, and update candidate information based on interactions or new data. “In the ever-changing job market, staying informed and competitive is vital,” he said. “ChatGPT can aid in this by conducting market research, identifying trends, demands, and opportunities in the job market.”


Of course, with the advantages of AI also comes the responsibility of ethical use. Mr. Van de Groep notes that it is crucial to inform candidates about any AI usage in your process and avoid over-reliance on automated decision-making. Regularly reviewing AI outputs to ensure fairness and accuracy is paramount. “Remember, ChatGPT is a learning model; it continually improves over time,” he said. “Regular feedback and interaction help the AI better understand your specific needs and work more effectively on your behalf. Integrating AI, specifically ChatGPT, into your executive recruitment processes can drive efficiency, improve candidate engagement, and lead to better placements. The key is to use it intelligently and responsibly, balancing automation with human insight and judgment.”

Potential Shortcomings

A separate article from Hunt Scanlon Media took a look at some potential shortcomings of using ChatGPT for recruiting senior talent. “Right now as a recruiter, the utility of ChatGPT to identify and source potential candidates is very limited given the lack of private APIs such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and GitHub that it has access to,” said Ryan Kellner, head of the technology, data science, and quantitative analytics recruiting practice at Hudson Gate Partners. “However, if/when that happens, this could be a very powerful tool that would enhance a lot of manual screening that takes place when taking a large candidate pool and whittling it down to a recruiting campaign. It has a vast knowledge of facts and the ability to match and score those facts.  It just can’t tie that knowledge to people, experience, organizations…yet.”

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“I’d be interested to see ChatGPT’s resume screening and scoring ability in action, especially on a role that has a high amount of applicants but few qualified applicants,” he said. “It would be an interesting case study to give a few senior recruiters and ChatGPT 50 applicants for a role and see how many each person/bot thought was a good match for a specific job description.”

Other than that, ChatGPT is excellent at writing a job description, according to Mr. Kellner. “I have given it a couple very specific roles in technology to write job descriptions for and they are perfect. I was also impressed that under qualifications, it often pulls in some ‘nice to have’ related technology experience vs. exactly what I asked for.”

Mr. Kellner told Hunt Scanlon that he has used this tool a few dozen times to test what it can do. “It’s vocabulary, industry specific knowledge, and thoughtfulness of responses is advanced,” Mr. Kellner said. “It converses as well as most humans I know, if not better. If nothing else, it is very strong at it’s clarity of statements and avoids using flowery, nondescript language, and overuse of superfluous adjectives.”

Recruiters have told Hunt Scanlon that overreliance on AI may eventually cause human skills to wane. Generative AI platforms have the potential, like the internet or wireless before them, to eventually change everything. Executive search is no exception.

Related: ChatGPT’s Future in Recruitment

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

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