Is AI and Automation ruining the reputation of recruitment?

James is a firm believer that AI and automation in the recruitment industry should improve its reputation and not hinder it. From receiving emails from top-ranking, celebrity CEOs starting with, ‘Hi First Name’, to making one of his biggest hires via a LinkedIn automation app, James believes elements of AI and automation are crucial to improving your company’s reputation and reach. But, some elements need to be left at home when starting your working day. If they are to be used, these tools need to be handled like a baby, with an overwhelming abundance of care and attention.

James said: “In 2018, I remember reading about Amazon, and their so-called state-of-the-art recruiting tool that should have made the hiring process at the retail giant easier, quicker, and more effective. I thought: ‘What a fantastic idea. AI and automation will revolutionize the recruitment industry, and my day-to-day at Kingston Barnes.’ However, Amazon soon found that this ‘genius’ piece of equipment implemented a bias against hiring women. ( 

Workers responsible for delivering this ‘genius’ piece of AI said the idea was to: “…give you (the AI technology) 100 CV’s, it will spit out the top five and will hire those.” This was when my skepticism about AI in recruitment started. I wasn’t going to allow AI and technology to make a consultative decision and potentially ruin my company’s reputation. How could AI and automation be so unreliable in delivering recruitment results? The biased, and defective AI program was shocking, especially when working in the Construction & Property, Engineering & Manufacturing and Logistics & Distribution industry. This story made me lose my trust in AI and automation tools. I decided to wear my AI skeptical head from that day forward.” 

James understands the benefits of AI, automation, and technology, and how they can drastically improve the speed, reliability, and even quality of everyday tasks in the recruitment industry.

James said: “I have had some fantastic and wondrous experiences using AI and automation in my day-to-day role managing my recruitment company. I used an automation tool to trial the impact, be it positive or negative, to reach a wider audience to promote my book: ‘The Art of Recruitment’, and to also contact top-tier candidates and reduce forgetfulness in follow-up emails as is sequenced. The results were positive in some areas, however, mistakes were made too. I hired a very successful, senior person off the back of the AI tool I had used, but, at the same time, approached one of my wife’s consultants which didn’t go down too well in the Kingston household, and looked incredibly unprofessional at the same time to her recruitment company, Juice Recruitment.”  

James goes on to say: “I’m a big fan of LinkedIn, a self-sufficient, mini AI database in itself, and the biggest business social networking platform in the world. Where else can you promote your services, find, apply, or advertise for specialist job roles at the click of a button and connect with thousands of people on your business wavelength? It’s a tool recruiters use daily for contacting potential clients or headhunting candidates. However, LinkedIn has removed the in-person experience between recruiters, candidates and clients, thus converting recruitment into a more transactional experience, and because of the sheer speed and volume of messages being actioned, it’s easy for that message to be lost, and forgotten or not even seen. 

There’s a famous ‘rule’ that states seven per cent of meaning is communicated through spoken word, 38 per cent through tone of voice, and a massive 55 per cent through body language. A study conducted by Indeed in 2021 also showed that 82% of employers now conduct virtual interviews. We’re losing, and fast, the in-person experience that the recruitment sector has worked so hard to uphold.”

“Another example of when AI and automation lost to human efforts was when Steven Bartlett, the entrepreneur, BBC Dragon and podcaster, accidentally emailed subscribers a live launch event invitation. The email started with: ‘Hi, FName…’ I was shocked at the lack of attention to detail for someone of such notoriety. There was no ‘test send’ before sharing his email with potentially thousands of people. Instantly the message felt less personal when the whole point in using someone’s first name is to make the recipient feel that the email was intended just for them and not a large database of subscribers. 

For me, whilst the email hasn’t done any major damage, I couldn’t help but ponder, what if this was an email to my database of contacts trying to introduce our services? Or contact candidates regarding a confidential position? This is just another reason why AI and automation tools need to be handled like a baby, with an abundance of care and attention.”

“The impact of a bad recruitment experience with both clients and candidates could be detrimental to your company’s reputation, so the buck mustn’t stop with AI and automation programmes. It’s very much down to the recruiter to check, and check again that AI and automation programs are reliable, and are delivering successful results that benefit the client, candidate and the recruiter.”

James isn’t against implementing AI tools at Kingston Barnes and explains how specific tools, such as AI scanning and tracking programs could be very beneficial for his company. He says: “I once read that a customer experience management company with over 1,250 employees worldwide, increased sourced hires by 43% after implementing a recruitment automation tool. (Medallia & Harver Recruitment Technology). And these numbers can’t be ignored.

Ultimately, we live in a world where technology rules and businesses have to adapt quickly to stay afloat and keep them reputable, innovative businesses. AI and automation are continuously adapting and changing the way everyone works. If AI can complete a task in five minutes that may take my team 45 minutes, I’m all for it. We need to, however, ensure AI is doing the job well and not damaging your company’s reputation, the candidate experience and under no circumstances remove the consultant in a recruitment consultant.”