We’ve all seen that AI-generated picture of the salmon in the river. The one with the fillet floating downstream regularly used as a depiction of AI’s shortcomings, the kind of gotcha moment for anyone who says the computers are taking over.
Now I don’t think AI is going to steal all our jobs, but the topic of AI’s usage in recruitment is an interesting one.
Automating manual tasks, covering admin, and even writing content, there’s clear value when it comes to making us all more efficient. And on that content point… this is all my own work, promise.
But I do think the premise of using a computer’s intelligence to improve your own, is well, intelligent.
I was listening to ‘How I Built This’ the other day, with Guy Raz, which as an aside I’d very much recommend to anyone interested in start-ups.
In the episode from February this year, he was speaking to Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, whose technology has built – among other things – the much-lauded ChatGPT technology.
Let’s be honest, we all played with it to write funny stories about our mates (or ourselves, case in point: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/nickcaley_technology-artificialintelligence-christmasparty-activity-7005482264226615297-_TTq/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop) but the power and intelligence of the thing is pretty mind-blowing.
Something that struck me about the podcast was Sam’s views, particularly around the influence AI technology can have on everyday people. He described it as akin to your personal AI assistant. “You'll chat back and forth with this like super intelligent assistant that'll help you with everything”. It could draft and send replies to all your unread emails. Even make your coffee in the morning, although Altman interjects, “but it doesn't say hi to you or … smile at you… (to) give you that minute of human connection.”
Does anyone else see the irony there?
We want AI to be our shoulder-based angel and devil, but we might miss the smile from an unknown Pret barista. Feels to me like he’s looking to AI to replace human connection, not supplement it.
And that brings me to – tedious link I know – but the world of recruitment.
The number of emails I get about AI recruitment tools is inordinate, they all go straight in the bin. Perhaps it’s just my nature but the only one I have ever responded to was from a guy at SourceWhale, and that was because he quoted something I had written back to me.
I enjoyed the personal touch and told him so.
And ironically, I think the world of technology recruitment is currently pretty AI-proof. Especially when it comes to interviewing. That ability to connect with someone, understand what they have achieved, poke at how they did it, and get a feel for why they used the method they did, can only be done from human to human.
We’re lucky enough to have several long-standing clients, who trust us to be able to interview a (on paper) seemingly left-field candidate but posit that they’re a perfect fit. And often we’re right.
I don’t think the ability to understand what someone has done, and the technical complexity attached to it can be ascertained by a computer. I also don’t see how it can grasp a company’s culture, and values, and why the person you’ve just spent twenty minutes chatting to would slot right in.
All I can find are tools that – while useful – focus on using what I would call parameters to create value.
We see more and more competition in the recruitment world, but less and less who seem to focus on spending quality time with people. They instead offer a shiny new tool – from video clips to AI-powered candidate outreach – in the hope all of that will encourage clients to work with them. And the sad thing is, it often does.
But when all is said and done, those tough technology roles are still not filled, and the frustration of what it says on a candidate’s CV not matching up with what they have actually done, yep that’s still there too.
Not using AI at all is also not smart, I just wish there was less of a rush to assume it’ll solve all recruitment challenges.
And call me old fashioned, but that’s kind of how I feel about life as well. Why do we need an AI assistant, why can’t we talk to other people about our problems?
To be fair to Sam (as if he needs my blessing), the use of AI in healthcare, or the arts, or indeed to facilitate communication, is unbelievable, I just hope he leaves my world alone for a little longer.
And if you’re hiring technologists, then I think you should too.