[Podcast] AI Shouldn’t Be Your Silver Bullet: What Talent Businesses Need To Consider When Evaluating Technology with Chris Hesson

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Artificial Intelligence for talent businesses is a hot trend right now. Everyone seems to be looking for that silver bullet. But what is AI, how can it help or hinder talent businesses, how is it the same or different from automations?

Kortney Harmon:

It’s happening a lot because maybe these point solutions or even core vendors are trying to sell you that silver bullet that we talked about. I hate to say it, it’s an appeal to the lazy. I know, Don’t come at me. People think that you don’t have to do the hard operations, the enablement work to get better. Just slap some AI on it. Why not?

Hi, I’m Kortney Harmon, staffing and recruiting industry principal at Crelate. Over the past decade, I’ve trained thousands of frontline recruiters and I’ve worked with hundreds of business owners and executives to help their firms and agencies grow. This is the Full Desk Experience where we will be talking about growth blockers across your people, processes, and technologies.

On today’s episode, we’re actually going to be talking about AI and truly understand how it’s best suited to help your staff and in recruiting businesses and as well as understand the implications of what’s going to be happening in the future of our industry when it comes to artificial intelligence.

So I love that you guys are writing in the chat already, so keep that up.

You’ve probably heard as well as I have so many staffing and recruiting organizations chomping at the bit to find that new shiny technology or tool. Now, I want to say that conversation’s still happening, but the messaging has morphed a little bit, Chris, and you can kind of correct me to what you see. But from tools and technology to how firms and agencies use AI to solve problems in our industry, they truly think it’s the silver bullet to the future of our business. But is it?

So I’m going to pass it over to my well-dressed friend. Chris, thank you so much for joining us. Do me a favor, tell me why you’re excited about this topic. So are you excited to be here today?

Chris Hesson:

Absolutely. I wore a blazer just for you. So super excited to be here.

Kortney Harmon:

You’re so sweet.

Chris Hesson:

Artificial intelligence is absolutely a passion. I come from running a desk. I’ve worked with hundreds and thousands of different recruiters on looking at operational efficiency on how they run their desk as well how they run their business. This takes me back to a very small firm that I had worked with and I remember the woman who owned it coming to me and said, “I just wish I could find a tool where when I brought in a job it would look through the job description, go out into the interwebs, locate all of the right people, add them into my database, manage them through sequence automatically, run them through a chat bot to assess all of the people who were qualified, get their consent to send them over to the hiring authority, manage the automatic sending of them to the client, manage the feedback, and at the end I collect my placement.” My response to her was, “If you find that solution why would a company ever need to hire you as a recruiter? They would just buy the tool.”

Now, if you look at recruiting in our industry, one of the things that AI is going to have a major implication on is the automatic versus the personal. I think we’re going to be able to delve really deeply into this. That really goes a long way. I see a couple messages in chat that for companies, those are the tools they want.

AI is getting better and better. One thing AI has not shown it’s quite ready to replicate yet is a human relationship. I think we need to differentiate some of those. But AI is always improving. I mean, look around your house. My guess is every single one of you uses AI on a daily basis one way or another. I know I heard your Alexa go off earlier today, Kortney. They’re everywhere.

Kortney Harmon:

Yeah, they honestly are and I am so super excited to talk about this. When we get into this, I think the running joke for me is it’s like it’s almost that necessary evil for you. I joked with Chris earlier, my husband told me I’m not allowed to die because if I die then he’s not going to know how to turn on the lights, run the vacuum, or anything else in our house. I’m glad that’s the only reason he appreciates me not passing. But there is a good, a bad to this process.

So what does that mean? As leaders, you need to approach this topic with a very level head. See the big picture. There are so many facets of this conversation of AI and I don’t want you to be instinctively thinking it’s the magic button that will connect my job orders like Chris was saying. Okay, connect my job orders with my candidates in my system. Let’s face it, AI is only as good as the data that your teams are putting into the system. If you’re not teaching your teams what it needs to be in the system, how do you expect magic AI button to find them? It can’t read your minds. It’s not going to do your job for you.

Or the idea that maybe it’s going to allow you to find more qualified talent. Because finding those qualified candidates is only part of our process here. You have to still have the conversation. I saw human element somewhere flying in the chat. I try not to pay too much attention. But finding that is only half the battle and we have to sell that candidate on the job to ensure that they’re truly interested.

The other thing that I hear, Chris, and I don’t know if you do is the idea that an owner or a CEO or a leader in an organization says, “I want AI to help me eliminate a head count for the staff I have on hand.” I’m going to be honest, I have heard leaders bluntly say, “I want the magic button to help me replace my recruiting team. I want to cut down my head count to save money.” But if one button is going to replace your recruiters, what kind of recruiters are you hiring? More importantly, what expectation are you holding them to? There’s a bigger problem at hand here if that’s what you’re thinking.

Now what I do want you to be thinking is how can it help my teams be quicker, more efficient in their approaches on what they’re working on daily? How can my teams use the tools that we have in place today or in conjunction with the tools that we have today to make their jobs easier? Last but not least, do I have the processes laid out clearly for my teams to execute?

So that means two parts. It means new teams, so new people coming into your organization, as well as existing teams can ramp up quickly to do the task at hand. Do they really know what’s going on in the background whenever you have AI in the mix or is it just a bandaid. You as a leader have to communicate this.

So Katie, let’s throw our first poll up. I’m super excited. I just kind of want to get a baseline, Chris, before we dive into this of where do you guys stand. So do you use AI in your office today? Yes, you use it. No, not at the moment. You’re not sure. Maybe you need some work and that’s why you’re here. So where are you guys at today? Do you use it? Yes. Do you not use it? No. We’ll give you a minute to respond.

All right, so we have some that use it. That’s great. We have some that say no, not right now. And we do, but we need a little help, so that’s why you’re here today. So hopefully you can get some nuggets of information from Chris and I’s brain as we go into this.

As we walk into this topic today, I want you to keep one thing in mind, what is happening right now in our industry is we have an overreliance of technology and it truly can create an ineffective bandaid that frankly just covers up your broken or underdeveloped processes within your organization. It’s happening a lot, because maybe these points solutions or even core vendors are trying to sell you that silver bullet that we talked about. I hate to say it, it’s an appeal to the lazy. I know, don’t come at me. People think that you don’t have to do the hard operations, the enablement work to get better. Just slap some AI on it, why not?

So we’re here to dive into all those things today. I am descending from my soapbox. I am so sorry. But as we talk about AI, Chris is going to break down my thoughts. Or I’m going to break down my thoughts. But Chris also sent me an image earlier in the week, but that image showed a broad array of AI, what it really covers. It covers machine learning, natural language processing, vision, speech planning, robotics. Chris, I will have you chime in on that in one minute.

But before we get to that topic, what I really hear people doing on my end, Chris, and you can correct me what you think, but I hear people lumping AI and automation together. I think clarifying my thoughts will help you and the audience stay on that same brain wavelength of mine and what we’re going to talk about today. It’s a scary place to be where my brain is, so bear with me for a second.

As we talk artificial intelligence, it’s essentially that theory or development of computer systems really to help us perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as that visual perception, speech recognition, decision making, translate between languages. You may have this with predictive sourcing, Calendly, chat bots within your office.

Otherwise we have automations. Automations are really that business automation for term of use of technology that really performs repetitive tasks freeing up your employees for higher valued work. This includes the BPA, the business process automation, the robotic process automation, and other ai AI tools. I think it’s really more a part of if this, then that, kind of larger scale.

I talked about this little thing right here, this round lady that likes to chime in.

Chris Hesson:

Don’t say her name.

Kortney Harmon:

But this happens… Don’t say her name because she’ll light up and she’ll start talking whether she’s spoken to or not. But that’s the problem with technology. These automations probably happen within your office as well if you’re doing sequencing, drip campaigns, redeployment, reactivation, upon placement, prospecting, so many things.

So Chris, I’m going to hand it over to you, but we’re going to throw another poll up right now. I want you to take it one step further as we bring Chris into this topic. What does your office currently use when it comes to this topic? Are you using artificial intelligence? Are you just using automations? Do you use both or you don’t use either and you need to start?

So Chris, while they’re responding, I’m going to throw this to you. What do you think, do you think it’s two separate pieces? Give me your take on this whole automation versus AI versus all of the other things that are out here [inaudible 00:10:00].

Chris Hesson:

Yeah, I think one of the key things is recognizing that AI and automation, while sometimes they can appear similar from the outside, they’re very different things. AI as far as artificial intelligence is really bringing a humanlike but not human brain to the situation. Whereas automation is you are telling the computer go do this set of tasks this way in this particular order. Whereas artificial intelligence is you saying, “This is what I’m trying to accomplish, go practice over and over and over again until you can get it or get something similar.” You’re putting some of that decision making capability into that computer.

Some different examples I’m sure most of you are familiar with. If you look around, speech is a large component of artificial intelligence. Speech to text, text to speech, those are two huge things. There’s so much brain power in a human that goes into understanding this. Now, if you are on a Windows computer, a fun keyboard shortcut is the Windows button, shift, and S can actually open up Cortana who will then do speech to text for you.

So I’ve leveraged that in my tool if you’re on the candidate, take the last two minutes of a conversation, recap, pull that up, you can just talk out your notes. I was a pacer in my office. That right out of the gate, really quick tip most of you can leverage today. If you’re on a Mac, there’s a Siri shortcut. I’m not a Mac guy, I don’t know what that one is. Speech is big.

There’s image recognition. Natural language processing is another component. Being able to not just understand what the word you’re saying but understand the context of what does it really mean and how does that impact your specific segment.

The last one, and I think a very large buzzword we hear about, is machine learning. Machine learning is incredibly complex. This is where a computer is essentially simulating the learning process of a human. Go back to yourself, your children, your grandchildren when they’re learning to walk, what happens? They fall down a lot. They then learn to take little steps. They slowly learn balance. Machine learning is a computer doing the same thing where it’s running thousands and millions of attempts until it can finally get towards a desired outcome and it’s building these simulated neural pathways to start to make some connections.

Now all of this I’m bringing on is AI, is this buzzword we hear about, but what does it really mean and what impact does it have on your business? I think that’s one of the real key things to look at today.

Kortney Harmon:

I love it. I think that kind of blows us nicely into our next and to the idea that I think where I see this most and whenever we think of AI, let me go back to this, the poll, most of us just use automations. So that was a self reflection of the group that’s here. Most of us just use automations. There are a few of us, very small number that use both AI and automation, and there are some that don’t use either, but they need to. So I think that’s a good realization.

In our industry, we probably see true AI mostly with sourcing, at least whenever we talk ATSs. So it’s that idea of predictive sourcing, right? Where the tools really help enhance what we’re doing. Now I’m not just saying this because so many companies are grasping at AI, but what we really need to find is or what we’re really saying is we need to have an efficient way to find something.

I remember the good old days of beating my brain to write the most effective bully and string to find that perfect list of candidates, and those days are not honestly lost upon us. It’s not a bad idea to think about how you can accelerate your sourcing or get down to a slightly more constrained list of choices for sourcers or recruiters who really have that true finite amount of time to do their job.

However, chasing at AI everything just because it’s AI is what companies could be doing wrong. So I think really the idea of bringing in integration partners, Crelate works with some point solutions higher easy rediscovery tool for candidate matching and seek out are really two solutions that are getting it right out there. They’re the main reason that we partner with businesses because that’s the kind of machine assistance that you should give your teams. But I don’t don’t think it’s going to replace the need for you as recruiters to go actually look at candidates.

Chris, thoughts on AI when it comes to sourcing or places that we see it, where it’s going well, where it’s not going well?

Chris Hesson:

I completely agree. I was fortunate enough to attend a AI for recruiting conference in Manhattan and we had some of the biggest names not just in recruiting technology, but some of the biggest names, think Fortune 50, Fortune 20 organizations there, that have billions of dollars they’re throwing at this type of thing both from an internal hiring perspective as well as recruiting firms. If you look at how artificial intelligence is going to be impacting the recruiting world as a whole, I think it’s going to have some unique implications. Ultimately, if you are the type of recruiting firm or you’re running a firm where that first example I gave of I want to post a job, have it auto screen applicants, have them manage automatically, any company that’s worth their weight salt is going to just buy that tool and never pay you a recruiting fee and never have to use a recruiter.

Where I think you can look at it as the non-human elements. Those are going to be automated. Chat bots are getting better and better. I mean it’s been 30-plus years since a computer finally beat a human in chess, we’ve never turned back, but computers still haven’t gotten that art of persuasion. I saw that a few times in the chat. I think it’s not even just persuasion, it’s building a relationship.

Recruiting is going to shift dramatically. Low hanging fruit type recruiting where I’m looking at specific, I’m looking at transactional recruiting where it’s kind of a one and done, never use this per person again, often the way that internal companies hire. I have an opening role, I’ll post a job, see who comes up, and pull that together.

I saw a note, it is Windows-H. Thank you for the Cortana shortcut.

But that type of low hanging fruit recruiting, absolutely artificial intelligence and, more importantly, automation can replace that. I think that’s a key component as well. Automation is you’re having a prescribed set of steps that a computer can follow. They’re just following your orders. If your job is so simple that a computer can just follow your orders and do it, what value are you bringing at all?

Now what that means is where recruiting will change most dramatically is long term relationship building will become more and more valuable. I think we will see a shift in how recruiting firms operate over the next 15, 20 years to where a lot of those firms that are post and pray, sorry, a computer can put a posting together. They can probably write a posting better than you can.

Look at a tool like Grammarly, I’m sure you’ve seen it advertised on YouTube or anywhere. Great example of natural language processing, a big type of artificial intelligence where it looks at language and can, off of a very large data set, tell you how specific word choice will impact the reader, if you will. It’s actually a pretty cool tool to look at, but that’s an example of where AI can come in.

Artificial intelligence is not going to replace a very competent recruiter, but what that means is how competent are your recruiters? What resources, what training do they have? If an AI could replace your team, time to uplevel your team.

Kortney Harmon:

Absolutely. AI will fall flat if your expectations truly don’t empower the rest of the job to be done. It is about the human element. We’re hearing that across the industry from SIA Gig economy conference and more, AI is not sufficiently mature. It’s not stopping companies from going really headstrong into this to give you what they come out of it with is that one to three year headache to say, “Wow, that didn’t do what I think it was going to do.” You can’t get away from those processes. You can’t get away from ensuring that you are having not only repeatable clients, repeatable candidates, redeployments. You are putting those people back to work and that doesn’t happen because you have a chat bot that’s reaching out to them. It happens because you have established relationships.

My husband seriously takes one of the people that I recruited fishing on a yearly basis still to this day. I haven’t ran a desk for over 10 years, but that happened because literally the relationship that we’ve established over the years.

I think you mentioned one other thing that was really key, and this is probably the basis of all of our podcast stuff, is really what are you teaching your people? If your processes aren’t laid out to ensure success, people aren’t going to be able to follow them.

Too many of people are chasing AI, and I’ll be saying this till I’m blue in the face, so keep a close watch today, I might match my blazer, but guaranteed you on this call are probably thinking about a line item on your tech evaluation checklist. I’m guessing you are. But if you actually took the time to unpack and write out everything that you wanted out of AI, would you still go after that status quo technology? Because I’ve seen most hand firsthand. Most of these firms are falling flat just by failing to articulate a process. They want to say, “This is the magic bullet. This is the magic thing that’s going to happen.” Don’t get me wrong, these tools can and will be amazing to do the things that you want if it’s done correctly. But if you are just automating to make your team’s life easier, that’s just not going to cut it.

I have seen from my past organizations, I have literally seen CEOs saying, “I don’t want the recruiter to have to think about so many things.” So let’s take one of the parts of your process. Let’s not even say redeployment, let’s say execution of signing of a contract and getting them through their first two weeks of a project in staffing. So Chris, you know as well as I do, that’s high volume, that’s the things that need to be out there. But I have seen CEOs implement this wonderful 12-step process, but what they’re failing to do is teaching their teams what it’s actually saying on the back end. They’re literally saying, “Don’t worry, it’s doing the job for you,” but these recruiters are panicking. They are saying, “Are you showing up? How was your first day? Can you give me referrals?” when all of this stuff was actually developed in their processes but it was never communicated. It was never told.

So what kind of standard are you really teaching or trying to set up for your organization if that’s the kind of image that you’re portraying? That you don’t have your stuff together. That it’s just kind of willy-nilly over here.

Chris, have you seen the same thing? Because I’ve seen that time and time again and it all comes back to process for me. I know that’s something that I super-preach here, but what about you, do you see the same?

Chris Hesson:

AI is not a replacement for the wrong process or the wrong team. Artificial intelligence will not fix that. Now what it can do is it can make a good team better, it can make a good process better, but it’s not a replacement. It’s not going to enable you to wave that magic wand.

So that human element, that starts with you as a business owner, that starts with you as a leader in your organization and sitting down and really understanding what is our core process. Now that might be from the sales standpoint, from the recruiting standpoint, from the onboarding standpoint, from the redeployment standpoint, what are the steps and then starting to identify what are the steps that maybe are taking our person too long, that we need to simplify, that we need to add some automation, again, which is different from AI, automation to? Where can we start to streamline some of that process.

Part of it is also looking at, like you said at the beginning, AI is getting better, but it’s not that magic bullet. It’s not this magic thing that we’re going to wave the wand and your whole process is going to be fixed. I still hearken back to the nineties, if any of you were recruiting then, and the idea that Monster and CareerBuilder and these job boards were going to get rid of the recruiting industry as a whole because now hiring managers had direct connection to candidates. Didn’t happen. You’re still here. Most of the firms I’ve been speaking with, best year ever, 2022. Still killing it. So that evolve in technology, that didn’t replace recruiters, but it shifted how recruiters operate and it started moving more towards some of that relationship.

Now companies were overwhelmed with posting a job and having 600 applications. Their internal team can’t handle it. They can’t manage that much. They need someone who can come in and assess and build a relationship and truly understand what someone can bring to the table. A computer is not going to do that.

Look at some of your firms as well. At least when I ran my desk, most of my hiring managers and best clients were former candidates. Would you trust a computer to flip that relationship and make that placement? I wouldn’t. I don’t want to. Again, that’s the value you bring to the table to your clients is your knowledge, your expertise, your ability to understand people and help drive through that process.

Kortney Harmon:

I look at that and the word trusted consultant comes out in my brain, Chris. That’s something that we want to be for not only the candidates that we provide but also the clients. We want to be that trusted resource. They can’t trust a robot. They’re not going to go and that’s not where you’re going to provide influence, that’s not where you’re going to gain trust.

Shameless plug, the next time we talk on November 1st, we’re going to talk about developing key accounts. This goes right into that. This is where you can have that conversation, how you can be talking differently.

But when we talk about AI, back to that concept, is if you have this amazing playbook and it’s not articulated, it’s not going to be executed on, and it’s surely not going to be measured. So where we’re falling short too in this industry is the idea that we’re not knowing if it’s working. Or are we just spending more money to gain another problem out of this whole process in itself?

Chris, I think probably the last place that we want to make sure that we don’t miss is failures, failures of AI, and what is the future of AI look like? What are the failures that you’ve seen beyond my last little example of that 12-step process, right? It comes down to process for me. But where else have you seen it fail besides this lady lighting up red or blue every time that we say her name during this call. What else is-

Chris Hesson:

So even beyond recruiting, I’m sure if you look at back when Siri launched in, what, 2010 or whenever that was, it’s gone through dramatic improvements. It still doesn’t get everything I’m saying. It still doesn’t understand. I still have to yell at Alexa 30 times to pause my daughter’s music that she’s listening to. It’s going to be there.

When we look at the relationships we’re building from a recruiting standpoint, I don’t want to have those interruptions or pauses. I’m going to take this back to the type of recruiting firm you run is really going to determine what type of impact AI will have. If you are really a middleman, if your sole goal is sourcing, collecting resumes, and passing them over here, you have almost no value that a computer can’t do for you. That’s one thing I think a lot of firms need to seriously evaluate what they’re doing and how they’re doing.

Now it’s interesting because you might look today in 2022 in this post-covid explosion of growth we’ve had over the last two years and go, “My business has never been better. I can do X, I can do Y, I’ve got jobs coming in, I can send candidates over, and I don’t maybe have to work super hard to do the same business that I did before.” That is going to continue to change.

When I was at this artificial intelligence conference, one of the key takeaways and the biggest impact on the recruiting industry was less on recruiting agencies and actually more on HR. What was very interesting to look at is if you look at that HR as a internal recruiting element, not as all the comp and ben and other things that HR can do, but the internal recruiting HR, they are purely a middle man.

I mean, the joke is HR is the enemy of the recruiting firm. Think how many times HR inserts themselves in your process and just blows it up and makes a mess of it. I used to recruit HR, those were my candidates, those were my hiring managers, but that type of role where their main goal is to coordinate and just make sure things happen, AI and automation are moving that direction. Which, good news for a lot of you recruiters, you may be dealing less with HR going forward, but you may be dealing more with AI.

You also may have a better or different relationship with your hiring managers because they’d rather talk to a person than deal with some of the AI. I think there will be some of that natural hesitancy in the market to look at.

But again, if you are the type of firm where you are running today and it’s posting a job, getting candidates, taking a quick look at a resume, sending them over, there’s no value you’re providing. However, if you have a specific specialty, if you are building long term relationships, you are able to not just assess talent but understand where people are in their careers, where they’re looking to go, you can truly be a consultant to organizations, that is a value that AI will not be able to replace.

Ultimately, recruiting is a subspecialty of consulting. If you look at the history of recruiting, go back to the post World War II fifties era, business consultants would come in, work with an organization, and go, “Oh, as part of your restructure, you need to hire these five roles.” They would ask, “Well do you know anybody?” This whole industry was born out of that as, “Let me go find somebody and I’m going to charge you for it.”

Recruiting is intricately tied with consulting, and I feel over the last 20-plus years it’s often been separated from that and there’s a lot of firms that are not consultants, they are order takers. If your role as a recruiter is taking an order, you are adding no value, your job may not be here, your firm may not be here in 10, 15 years. However, if you are doing an in-depth analysis, understanding your clients, what they need, how they need to operate, where the talent exists, what that talent is looking and wanting, AI can make your life easier by using a Grammarly, by using different tools, by adding automation. But that won’t replace your job, you’re safe.

Kortney Harmon:

No, I love it. Literally while you were talking what comes to my mind is how often do you call a number for a bill that you’re paying or something and you just try to, what is the secret number that I have to push to talk to somebody? They need to feel my pain. If you want to run your business like that, you’re right, you’re going to be out the door. People aren’t going to be beating down your door to press zero to speak to a representative. They’re literally going to say, “I’m just not going to do business with you.”

So people want that consultative approach and they really want to see the impact and be able to hear. They want to be able to hear the FOMO. They want to know what other clients are doing or how other things are going or be able to hear statistics about what’s happening in the industry course.

Chris, I want you to highlight one more thing before we go, but I think really when as we look at this, I want you to talk about the future. I look at the future of this and say, “Leaders, don’t inundate your people with technologies. Try to streamline. Make sure it’s working with your ATS. Don’t make duplicate entry. Don’t make the idea of doing work in three systems, make it one.” We watch how we say that here on this podcast, but it’s truly the idea, are you making more work? You think you’re making it easier, but are you truly making more work for your teams?

Because there are so many times working with new franchise owners, they’re like, “Well I don’t want to do work in my ATS. I’ll just go to LinkedIn.” Well guess what? That LinkedIn subscription upped thousands of dollars and, “Look, I don’t want to pay for it anymore.” Guess what? You no longer have your data that’s in that system anymore because you didn’t want to have duplicate entry.

So how do we make this easier? Chris, when we think of the future of AI, what comes to your mind beyond what I just said?

Chris Hesson:

Yeah. So look at your process, look at the human element. Again, artificial intelligence is where the computer’s making some decisions, going out and finding things. Sourcing is a great place where you can start to look at some different AI tools.

Now I’m going to tell you, it is still not the end all be all. If you think an AI tool, and again as great as a tool like hireEZ and some of the other ones can be, it is not a replacement for your recruiter understanding their space and what they do and being able to really understand what keywords mean to you.

One of the examples I always give is I had done a search for a company that manufactures any bubble wrap you’ve ever gotten in an Amazon pack, they’re the one that make it. They do packaging, they were looking for a enterprise level account executive in the New England area, and I remember going to Monster, CareerBuilder. Even with their semantic search, which is predicated on an initial form of AI, I looked for sales, packaging, food, New England, top result cashier at McDonald’s. They had every keyword I was looking for. They had the highest distribution of that. Based upon all of the AI tools that the job board was telling me that should have been my number one candidate. Not even close.

Context is important, and the more niche your firm is, context become very, very different. Go on to LinkedIn and run a search for project manager. Now imagine you’re working in the construction industry. Those mean very different things. Even throwing words like construction in there, it’s going to take time for tools to get better and really drill in.

One of the things I always look at is what’s the minimum I need to say someone’s worth my time to reach out to. If I can have a list of a hundred people that have that, I’m going to have a conversation. Let me talk to people, let me build my process, let me build relationships, that’s going to get me to the right candidates.

So do not use AI as a crutch, but sourcing is a great place to start with it. Pros and cons to it. There’s some tools I’ve used in the past that they marketed their spidering technology and they would go out and look for names on the internet and try to find phone numbers and email addresses, and 70% of it was junk. That is still a very big risk. Look at the data set you’re pulling from. If we have a tool that’s going out on the internet, think of all the good stuff and bad stuff that’s out there and what it’s going to potentially find.

The data is only good as the sources it’s looking at and things change so often nothing is going to beat having that reach out, making conversations, getting a referral. Don’t forget that part of your process. Don’t forget those things that led to your initial success and led to your growth to take you where you are today. Should we continually evaluate them? Absolutely we can and we always should.

So sourcing is a great spot for AI. Outside of that, look at automation. Not quite artificial intelligence, but you can have prescribed steps. So whether that’s sequencing, where look at your reach out process. If I have candidates, I make a phone call on day one, send an email on day two, send a LinkedIn message on day three, and you can build an entire process that can then be automated. That is a huge asset. So automation is something you can look at, yes.

Kortney Harmon:

That can be really applied to anything. It could be your prospecting. It could be the idea of your redeployment. We missed the mark so much on this in staffing. It could be re-engagement with, I mean heck, how many candidates are in your database that you haven’t touched, you weren’t able to connect with? It’s your way to get those tasks that your team doesn’t have time to do that you’re still making an impact in your industry. So so many things to think of. I love that. I love making sure we grasp to automation sooner than we do AI.

We keep a very close watch on AI because, like you said, it’s going to continue to develop and we’re going to get more out of this as we continue to move forward.

Katie, I know if I don’t go to an AMA, you will be jumping on here very shortly. So Katie, do we have any questions in the AMA before we get too wrapped up? Because Chris and I could talk forever, as you know.

Katie Jones:

I do know. Sorry, it apparently does not automatically start my camera in audio. Yes, we do have some questions in the chat, so I’m that you stopped there. The first is as the world goes remote and now my talent pool has jumped to everywhere in the country and not just in my zip code, do you think AI would be a good choice to cut out some of that [inaudible 00:34:20]?

Kortney Harmon:

Whenever I think of this, this is truly a world that it’s more challenging. Before covid, we talked about the general idea, whether it’s how many touches to get ahold of somebody. I look at the idea of business development and the idea that we try to have a conversation. How many attempts do we even have to have a conversation? Not only with talent but business development. Right here is business development. But the idea that it used to take 10 to 14 touches, or maybe eight to 10. More eight to 10. Post-covid, it’s probably 12 to 14. But that’s where the automations come into play. That’s where you can create a different touch plan.

Chris was saying, “Okay, email first, call second.” LinkedIn, make sure you’re adding your LinkedIn connections. What is your touch plan? But I think that’s where you as a leader have to establish this. You know your industry better than anybody.

I was in the world of IT. It was easy. Anytime that there was a technology involved, IT people were involved, they were engaged, they were there. So it was very easy for me to be able to get them. But I think you have to understand that might not be the same in manufacturing. That might not be the same in construction. I know my husband’s in construction and they are two different worlds. I would say something that would work on a hiring person’s decision for construction and he’s like, “No, I would not pay attention to you.” So really understanding you have to have a variety of approaches that goes with your automation plan, that goes with being consistent, that goes with you as a leader having an established process to say, “I know this is how you’re successful in this industry.”

So do I think AI is necessarily the thing? I don’t necessarily know, Chris, you can chime in here, but I do think automation is something you have to start today to make your team’s time consumption or time management [inaudible 00:36:04].

Chris Hesson:

Yeah, I think if you look at AI, it is going to be very industry specific. Even on the sourcing side one of the things that will be most important is are your recruiting efforts targeted at hard skills versus soft skills. If you are recruiting in a segment that is incredibly hard-skill specified, like, “I don’t care about the personality of the person. If they can do A, B, C, they’re hired.” Those are things that it’s easier for AI to identify that on social profiles to make connections to that on resumes. However, if you have roles that are more soft skill based, very very hard to articulate those in a fashion. Even as humans, we get fooled all the time where somebody sounded great and things turned out differently. That is going to be incredibly difficult. So look at your industry and look at is this a hard skill focused type of project I’m working on, is it a soft skill, is it a mix? Sourcing technology, from AI perspective, it’s going to give you some variance.

I definitely think there are things that are worth exploring. Keep your eyes and ears open really for the next five, 10 years on this and continue to evaluate this, because it will get better and better, especially on that sourcing end, and you have, again, larger candidate pools. That’s going to be the bigger issue. You are now inundated with so much information, how do you narrow that information down and get to where you want to be?

One quick note on that. If anyone is on Reddit, Katie, I told you about this earlier, but there is a subreddit called Recruiting Hell. I recommend every recruiter go in there and check it out. Now most of it is candidates complaining about HR. Love that. However, there’s this perception among a lot of candidates that their resumes are getting screened out based on keywords. That’s not as prevalent as people think it is. It’s usually there’s so many resumes the recruiter can’t get to it. But that is a real fear that your candidate pool has is I’m qualified for the job, I’ve done this job before, now I have this fear that a computer is going to make the arbitrary decision to determine that I’m not a fit when maybe this is that rockstar who’s going to take that organization to the next level.

So there’s always this double edged sword of when you take that decision making ability out of your team’s hands, where is it, what can you actually affect change and control on, and what’s the long term impact for your organization?

Katie Jones:

Thanks guys. A follow up to that, and you guys kind of touched on this a little bit, but he’s now asked what some of the must-haves with automation versus nice to have but not really necessary?

Chris Hesson:

I’ll start with that one. Yeah.

Kortney Harmon:

Chris, do you want to start or do you want me to answer? Okay.

Chris Hesson:

So with automation it comes with having a clear process first. Trying to bolt automation to a broken process is not going to get you anywhere. You’ve got to sit back and evaluate and look at what is my team actually doing? Automation, the idea is let’s take manual effort steps, let’s take the busy work off of their plate so they can focus on the things that require a human brain. They can focus on conversations. I mean ideally if you could have your team on the phone, not making phone calls, but talking to people all day, every day, how much better would you guys be? How much better of a position? How many more relationships could you get to? So automation, from a sequencing standpoint, this is something that I pushed before technology was doing it have a sequence that you follow.

For myself, I essentially had, I think it was 10 touches in the first five business days. Sounds like a lot, but they are over different mediums. Some on LinkedIn, some on phone calls, some on social media, some on emails, some on text. Adding some variance to that ensures you’re making some headway in connection because most people are ignoring most of them or they don’t get or check these platforms so I have to try everything a lot of different ways. Sequencing is an awesome way to start to automate it. That’s one of the first places I would start. But define your process. What is that sequence that’s going to work from you?

Kortney Harmon:

Absolutely. Honestly, if you automate a bunch of crap that wasn’t ready to be there in the first place, you are going to get the same crap responses, the same crap metrics, the same crap outcome. You want your teams to be on the phone. You want to be doing those power hours. How are we as leaders making their jobs easier? How are we making sure that they develop more relationships, they have more impact, create more trust? So as leaders, please, if you do anything, start with a few processes. That would be my only suggestion as we talk about this.

So what are the things that are most important for you? I would say redeployment is one. Intro to business for prospecting could be two. Reactivation of candidates is three. Those are the three things that probably stand out in my mind, but be good at those.

So those processors are all different. They’re going to have different strategies, different touchpoints, different mediums, like Chris said, to be able to get in touch with these people. How are you telling your people to do it today? Or are you even telling them at all? Are we measuring that? So make sure, especially redeployment, if anything that is the thing that is closest to your money, please, please, please make sure that is one of the first things that you automate as you are [inaudible 00:41:07].

Chris Hesson:

On that note, think of the messaging that goes out. I used to get asked all the time and I would give lectures and stuff on spam and how do you get past spam filters and how do you have good marketing content so people pay attention? The number one spam filter is the human brain. For those of you who are business owners who are in that type of position, think about how many emails you get on a daily basis of somebody trying to sell you something and how fast does your brain pick up on that and make the decision to delete, ignore, not pay attention to it? Automating bad emails is just going to get you to that bad result faster. Don’t replace that human element.

Again, this might be a good thing where, I had mentioned it before, but I had worked with a few firms that started leveraging Grammarly, which again has free versions. There’s no integration, it just ties into your browser or anywhere you can use it, but it would give you recommendations of language or are you using language that is going to be received in different ways? Kind of a cool tool to get an idea of, hey, if I use this word choice instead, it might actually have a little bit of a different impact or feel with the recipients in different ways. Those might be neat ways to say am I using word choice correctly that’s going to have the desired effect.

Second recommendation, and this is one of my favorites, anytime you have emails in a sequence, your goal is not someone to say, “Yes, I want the job,” or, “Yes, I want to hire you to recruit.” It’s, “I want to talk to you.” Have your messaging reflect that. My messaging should reflect, well what do I want to do to get this person on the phone? Look for conversations. That’s where your team comes in from the human side to make the connection, build that long term relationship.

Kortney Harmon:

Katie, I want to say one more thing. As we’re talking about process, there’s a really good tool out there. So a lot of you probably are very small offices. How do I get all of these processes in play? It could be within your ATS, it could be with whatever process you’re implementing, Tango is a really good resource. They have a free version, but they also have a paid version. I am not affiliated with them, but learning and development is my jam, so I really want you to say Tango is an option.

It actually tracks your clicks, so it’ll say, “You clicked here first, click here second.” So if you want your people to follow a certain process and you’re trying to teach them something, whether it’s in your system or not, that might be a good place for you to start so if we’re thinking automation and technologies.

Katie Jones:

Kort, was that Tango or Tango?

Chris Hesson:

I believe it’s tango.us, I believe is the site for it.

Kortney Harmon:

Yes, tango.us is exactly what it is.

Katie Jones:

That question was asked by John. John says that, at first he was like, “No, I’m going to be shy.” I was like, “No, we love talking to you.” So now he’s not going to be shy and he does have a question, so I’m going to go ahead and pull John on stage.

Kortney Harmon:

Come on up, John. I missed you last week since we couldn’t pull you up on stage.

Katie Jones:

I know.


I forgot. You guys hijacked my old camera. I got to keep putting that up here. It’s looking out of the window like, “What’s going on?” Really I’m distracted. I was going to come in like this because now I cannot stop reading Recruiting Hell. It is hysterical. Hysterical.

Chris Hesson:

I strongly recommend it. Here’s the one, my biggest takeaway from it is I have known so many recruiters that did all the things people are complaining about. Use it as a great training resource if you hire someone. Don’t be like this person doing that.


Well, I could think of some emails that I’ve seen come out from people on my team that I could probably put up on here. I mean, it is, it’s good to be able to train people on that stuff.

I’ve decided too if either of the two of you ever decide that your bored and want to do something else, please call me. I love hearing you guys talk about what you’re doing and it’s like, “Yeah, this is exactly right.” I think, so I loved your comment from the nineties, I said I was going to comment on that. I started in ’94. I remember doom was omnipresent when online [inaudible 00:44:51].

Chris Hesson:

The fear, just innate. Recruiting is dead.


Yeah, and I didn’t get it. I’m like, “No, this is not it.” I’ve always really tried to draw a distinction between people who are recruiters and people who are sourcers. So my question comes back to your point, we have a process and we’re always looking for tools that make executing that process more efficient and easier. I’ve looked at AI and there’s an article that I’ll share, and I’m sure you guys have seen this kind of data, but 46% of newly hired employees fail within 18 months, and what is it? 89% of those hiring failures are due to attitudes.

So when we’re talking about AI, I mean I am constantly looking, I mean even psych assessments, they don’t do, in my opinion, an effective job of uncovering some of these attitudes, personality traits, predictive behaviors that are going to say, “This person is humble. This person is going to make decisions, but they’re going to be receptive to feedback.” So are you aware of any AI tools that might help from my perspective train recruiters to focus on those key human traits and uncover those traits in ways that remove… It needs to be non-formulaic, because what I find is you have processes and then people become formulaic in their approach. But it can’t be formulaic, it has to be that human element, that assessment, that consultative component that you referred to because we’re building trust with our candidates, we’re building trust with our customers, and need that to be consistent, branded.

I’ve looked for AI tools to do it, but never really see something that will give me support in that realm. It’s the hardest thing that we do, teaching people to [inaudible 00:46:54].

Chris Hesson:

That assessment is so difficult.


Yeah. We talk about there’s two two stages of learning. Here, it’s you learn our processes and systems. How do you go through the steps? How do you use the tools? Then there’s the thinking stage on how do you use the tools, processes, and systems to be most affective? So I’m sorry to interrupt. Go ahead.

Chris Hesson:

No, you’re fine. One of my favorite anecdotes on that personality side is for those of you who’ve seen or used the DiSC assessment tool, the person who created DiSC also created Wonder Woman. Just as an aside. No knock againts Wonder Woman, but it’s, again, you’ve got these tools out there and there has been no long term studies showing they’re actually effective in the way that they’re supposed to be.

Now I think as we get larger data sets, I think that type of thing will start to get better. I think there will be tools that, scarily enough, will go out and assess social media profiles and how are these people behaving and what type? I mean, that is incredibly scary about that privacy intrusion.


It exists. I’ve seen it. Have you?

Chris Hesson:



I can’t remember the name of it right now, but there is a tool that will give you a DiSC assessment by going out and assessing their social media profiles. This is their communication style. I’ve looked at using it, but I’m like, I don’t want my people relying on that, I want them to judge and assess and be thinking through that and adapting their communication style.

Chris Hesson:

Yeah. I’m sure what we’ll see is, and honestly it’s probably 20 years out, but I can see a tool that while you’re on a conversation with someone or taking notes, it’s able to come in and assess the type of language that’s being used and start to make recommendations.

I think one of the key things with AI is am I letting the computer make the decision or am I having the computer determine and surface elements that might be important but leaving the decision in terms of the recruiter. For an AI to be effective, I think it should be informing your decisions, not replacing your decisions.


So back to the question, have you seen any promising tools that you think are at least on the precipice or cusp of having enough data to provide some insights or even definitions of ways, hey, you know what, we’ve assessed a thousand people or 50,000 people and have identified if these words are happening, then you can determine X?

Chris Hesson:

Not that I would spend my money on as of right now. Again, I think this, keep an eye on it-


We’re going to spend your money on those tools if you [inaudible 00:49:27].

Chris Hesson:

Exactly. Keep an eye on… These are things, this is not a wholesale no, this is probably a not right now. Keep an eye on this as this continues to change. Technology is making leaps and bounds and any of these are subject. I would say things like that are still 5, 10, 15 years out before I would look at that.

Ultimately though, where do I want my recruiting team to be involved and is AI going to be influencing or giving me information as opposed to replacing it? That’s still the long term vision I would look for is how can I make my team as humans so valuable that my client is willing to throw thousands of dollars at me to get my team to work for them.


Am I allowed to ask another question or do you have more waiting? I don’t want to dominate this.

Kortney Harmon:

I think we’re at time. Katie, I’m going to let you chime in and tell me if I’m right or wrong. I think we’re at time.

Katie Jones:

We’re at time. Thanks, John.

Kortney Harmon:

If you have that question, put it in the chat. We have a mail bag for next week that we’re going to answer questions, so type that question in the chat.


Cool. No problem.

Kortney Harmon:

We’ll make sure to address it in our podcast that’s dropping on the 20th.

Chris Hesson:

Awesome. John, thanks for coming. Thanks everybody.

Kortney Harmon:

Thanks John. We appreciate it.

I really think in closing, think of this. Don’t let your firm’s laziness or seeking the shortcuts as causing you not to fix your underlying problems. AI is a buzzword. It’s one of those things that your people are grasping at to fix problems and I don’t want you to leave to say, “Wow, that really wasn’t what I was expecting.” So you as leaders, ensure that you’re taking the time to build out your processes, train your teams, communicate that. Have roleplays. Play out the entire situation for your teams, but give them the technologies to help them do their jobs efficiently but not do their jobs for them.

So if you found value in this episode or any other of our live events, please do me a favor, tell someone personally, invite them to our show, or even share our podcast with them. It would mean so much to me.

We will not have an episode in two weeks. I know that’s my normal spiel. But Chris and myself will be at Staffing World. So A, we hope we see you there. If you are going to be there, make sure you stop by our booth at Crelate. We would love to see you, say hello. But do join us on November 1st where we’re going to talk about talking to your teams and clients really to establishing that consultative approach. What we talked about today, where your clients turn into key accounts. Those key accounts can guarantee revenue year after year. I want to help you break out of that transactional approach that you’re doing with your teams today.

If you do have questions, please email us at [email protected]. But we are having that mailbag episode for podcasts that we’re dropping, we would love to answer your questions.

So with that, I’m Kortney Harmon from Crelate. Thanks for joining us. Again, submit any questions to [email protected]. If you enjoyed our show, be sure to subscribe to our podcast wherever you listen and join us on Tuesdays at 3:00 PM Eastern, 12:00 PM Pacific. Have a great day, guys.

I’m Kortney Harmon with Crelate. Thanks for joining the Full Desk Experience. Please feel free to submit any questions for next session to [email protected] or ask us live next session. If you enjoyed our show, be sure to subscribe to our podcast wherever you listen and sign up to attend future events that happen every other Tuesday at 3:00 PM Eastern, 12:00 PM Pacific.

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