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The New Talent Experiences Made Possible By AI (Spark Live 2024)

AI is already impacting all of us in our day-to-day lives. But what does that mean for how talent teams find, hire and develop talent? And how does it change the experience for talent? 

At Spark Live 2024, Beamery’s Sultan Saidov spoke to three experts – Mike Rizzi, Senior Recruitment Marketing Manager at DraftKings; Katharine Rooney, VP Talent Attraction & Acquisition at Mimecast; and Thanh Duong, Senior Manager, Talent Sourcing, at Autodesk – to uncover how they see the power and potential of AI in HR. 

ai panel

So how do they see artificial intelligence empowering humans across the entire talent lifecycle? 

1. HR can make better decisions about where to source talent. 🔍

The panelists talked about a big benefit of AI in Talent Acquisition for global organizations: they can see where in the world they should be hiring. 

AI can provide insights into talent pools in different markets, by analyzing millions of data points – to inform HR about the availability of specific skills, the competition for those skills, and the industries where these people are currently employed. (The skills you need might come from unexpected places.) 

Kat Rooney from Mimecast said this was helping them meet their hiring requirements – such as Natural Language Processing skills, but also skills “blends” – and had informed the setup of their new talent hubs in India and Canada. 

Thanh Duong talked about how he and his team at Autodesk are now able to “tweak” job titles to see what the addressable market looks like, in different geographies – and how they use insights about compensation and attrition to decide what their overall hiring strategy ought to be. 

2. There are huge efficiency gains to be had in TA. 🚀

Getting into the day-to-day for recruitment and talent marketing teams: everyone talked about efficiency, and increasing their productivity, with the help of AI. 

For example, Thanh Duong from Autodesk highlighted how AI helps them manage an influx of applications (resulting from their flexible work policy). AI tools can quickly sift through hundreds of applications to identify the best matches based on skills data and other criteria. 

This not only speeds up the recruitment process, but also means recruiters can focus their efforts on engaging with the most promising candidates. 

“It's not going to solve everything for us, but it builds that efficiency in terms of starting research, starting your project, doing a bit of insight. And from there, you can kind of take it and run with it.” – Thanh Duong

3. It elevates recruiters to the role of strategic advisors. 😎

So, AI frees up recruiters to spend more time being strategic – but it also gives them the tools and insights to have more strategic conversations with the business.

They can provide valuable market intelligence and guidance to Hiring Managers… and even become more proactive when it comes to sourcing candidates and meeting skills-related demand. For example, Mike Rizzi referenced their ability to use AI to surface candidates AHEAD of a requisition being posted.  

“Being able to free that [time] up so that all of our recruiters actually spend more time with candidates, with stakeholders, creating insights, becoming thought leaders, becoming the experts in their space, I think is a really amazing thing.” – Kat Rooney

4. AI means a more personalized experience for talent. 💝

Mike Rizzi was also keen to talk about how DraftKings is applying AI to the “front end” – to improve the experience for talent, not just recruiters. 

They have used AI-powered calibration functionality to match people to roles, based on skills… and they have also deployed this “externally”, in order to share personalized recommendations with potential candidates. 

“Similar to what we see inside the platform to find talent, but also sort of reverse engineering that and leveraging the candidate portal to be able to actually share those insights directly with candidates. So allowing candidates to be in control of the information that they get, and making sure that it’s hyper relevant.” – Mike Rizzi

That relevance drives engagement, and increases conversion. So it’s also, of course, a win for talent teams. 

5. You will create a more diverse talent pool. 🙌🏾

AI has the potential to enhance diversity in the hiring process by mitigating human biases, and also broadening the scope of candidate searches. 

With the help of AI, you can analyze a wider range of candidate attributes and experiences, identifying qualified candidates who might have been overlooked through traditional methods. 

DraftKings, for example, uses AI to refine job titles and skill requirements, ensuring they align with market expectations – and are not inadvertently introducing human bias by relying on the same old keywords to find suitable candidates.

Thanh talked about how AI “gives us an opportunity as well to expand the pool, and focus a bit more on diversity.”

6. You can use the same functionality to support internal talent. 🫱🏻‍🫲🏾

It’s not just about hiring and net new candidates – your existing employees can enjoy that hyper-personalized experience too, thanks to AI-powered skills-based recommendations.

AI tools can identify employees with the potential to fill critical roles, recommend training and development programs, and facilitate career progression within the company. This approach not only enhances employee engagement and retention, but also ensures that organizations can effectively use their existing talent to meet evolving business needs.

7. AI supports better workforce planning. 📇

By letting you see which markets have the supply of (affordable) skills for your current and future business needs, AI can also help you build better workforce plans, and ensure greater agility as your business needs change. 

By analyzing historical data and current trends, AI tools can forecast future talent needs, identify skill gaps, and recommend hiring strategies that align with organizational goals. 

For example, Thanh Duong from Autodesk highlighted how AI helps in anticipating project demands and aligning workforce capabilities accordingly. AI’s predictive capabilities also enable HR teams to develop succession plans, ensuring leadership continuity and minimizing disruption in key roles.

“We talk about skills, but you tend to talk a lot about skills at the hiring stage… Actually starting to think about: what are the critical skills within your entire organization? Because if you then start to think about critical skills, you start to talk about critical roles. And I think that just starts to help you be much more planful and prepared for the direction of travel that your business is going through.” – Kat Rooney

Dealing with the challenges ⚠️

Of course, it’s not always straightforward to implement AI tools in HR, and have them adopted. You need to build trust with your C-suite, and your wider business, and manage your reputation carefully with the outside talent market. 

The panelists highlighted a few ways to avoid common pitfalls… 

  1. Work with legal as early as possible. You need them on your side as you navigate the complexity of using AI tools in any part of the business – especially HR. 
  2. Clearly articulate the business value – including efficiency – to your senior stakeholders, and show your talent team that it won’t replace them, it will help them. 
  3. Educate the skeptics on the why of AI as well as the how – and be sure to share your wins as they happen, from candidates you wouldn’t have otherwise found, to campaigns that you have been able to scale really quickly. 
  4. Create a connected ecosystem: Thanh Duong notes that in order for AI to be successful, it should be “plugged in” to your existing tech stack, and be able to work with your data. Trust is therefore crucial, as is data privacy. 

“It's AI to assist our recruiters and our team to create efficiencies in day-to-day work, to ultimately enhance productivity, to enhance the candidate experience. So continuing to really educate folks internally on that… was super important for us to get that buy-in and adoption.” – Mike Rizzi

🌟 Watch this Spark Live session, and all the others, on demand.