News that robots have learned to mimic humans, indicating they are not robots by beating online CAPTCHA tests (designed to differentiate man from machine) is the latest indicator that the gap between the capabilities of humans and artificial intelligence (AI) is narrowing.
Meanwhile, in a modern day realisation of the movie Splash, where mermaid, Madison, learns to speak after watching television programmes in a shop window, Google is training robots to understand and predict human behaviour by having said robots binge-watch YouTube videos. It is hoped that, by consuming a database of more than 57,000 tiny film clips, the machines will become more socially aware.
Against this backdrop, it is no wonder the effect that AI will have on the future of work is currently a hotly debated topic. However, the impact that technology will have on attracting the talent required for tomorrow’s workforces is a less discussed theme.
The idea of what it is to ‘work’ is changing. The rise of the flexible workforce and the ‘gig-economy’, facilitated by rapid technological advancements and an increasingly global outlook, means that employers are now expected to accommodate the individual needs of employees if they are to attract, engage and retain top talent. And they’re using technology to make it happen.
The talent management sector has historically been somewhat behind the curve when it comes to user experience. A traditional careers website, for example, will offer visitors the opportunity to apply for a full time vacancy (where the flexibility of that role is not specified), or join a graduate scheme. But this is not the experience that today’s consumers expect or deserve. If that same jobseeker is looking to buy a car, they can go to BMW’s website, choose a model, in their favourite colour, pick and mix from a variety of wheels, interior upholstery options and other miscellaneous extras – and then review the finished the article. Shouldn’t picking the perfect job follow a similar process?
Some companies talk about being an ‘employer of choice’, and about ‘flexibility’ – but they do not give candidates options. Other organisations are on that journey – displaying temporary and contractor roles alongside full-time roles; the Washington Post Talent Network and the ‘big four’ accountancy firms and their respective talent networks are taking steps in that direction – but no one is doing it fully. Most companies have these opportunities; they’re just not making them visible to the audience of increasingly discerning jobseekers they’re so keen to engage with.
In order to convert these sophisticated, tuned-in web audiences into talent, business leaders must reconsider how their website’s functionality affects their brand’s entire internet presence. Success lies in personalisation – the careers website of the future does not take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to engagement. Big data, for example, can be made available for all websites through close integration of analytics, advertising and search preferences as well as feedback from hiring managers on the ground. This, in turn, brings about the possibility to use AI to customise the website’s look and performance for particular user personas, by directing them into different ‘lanes’.
The talent your brand would like to attract will not all respond well to the same approach. Engineering and sales professionals, for example, are likely to seek a very different candidate experience. It is key, therefore, that your site has the functionality to create journeys which allow candidates to say what they want and what they’re looking for so that you can feed them tailored information.
The rise of the ‘gig-economy’ is encouraging a more ‘Uber-esque’ approach to recruitment – and careers sites must respond accordingly, by promoting assignment based, and jobshare options, as examples. For candidates unsure of what they are seeking, we need to reposition the way we engage by deploying bots to ask what users are looking for and then direct them accordingly.
In the future, searching for a job will be like building a holiday on Expedia. A candidate will be offered options based on past behaviours and other data, yet they will ultimately be offered the option to ‘build’ their own role based on their skills and availability, rather than picking from set options with rigid geographical or role requirements.
By taking this approach to candidate engagement, companies can forge workforces which blend the capabilities of their human and robot colleagues to ensure there are no skills gaps or skills wastage – workforces which can adapt and morph as we speed towards the future of work.
The way we gather information, communicate and work is shifting in response to technological innovation – and the way that HR engages with both jobseekers and existing employees must respond in line with user expectations.