Artificial Intelligence: The Future of Recruiting and Sourcing?

How technology is changing how and whom we hire

Green high-tech photo illustration

Artificial intelligence (AI) has transformed the way we search for information – and how we recruit candidates for jobs in virtually every industry, including healthcare. A rapid surge of AI-based recruitment tools has made it easier than ever for organizations to build their talent pipelines with suitable, pre-screened applicants.

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"AI-powered recruitment is not a fad," says Christine Hampton, Cleveland Clinic’s Director of Talent Sourcing. "It is going to transform the way those of us in healthcare find and hire talent."

Recruiting and sourcing

AI can automate a great number of routine, administrative tasks in the recruitment process, from sourcing and initial outreach to scheduling interviews and sending follow-up emails to candidates. Chatbots from software firms like Paradox, Humanly, Fetcher, RecruitGenius and hireEZ are further shaping how recruiters and applicants communicate with one another.

Cleveland Clinic’s Talent Sourcing team has adopted AI technology to support interpersonal messaging, perform market analytics, conduct Boolean searches (which use specific words like "and," "or," and "not" to narrow or broaden a search), and create personalized recruitment messages geared toward specific groups of caregivers.

The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, exacerbated a critical shortage of nurses nationwide. In response to this demand, hospital recruiters turned to AI to help fill open roles with skilled caregivers carefully matched to the unique requirements of each position. Not only did AI enable Cleveland Clinic to improve the efficiency and speed with which it could recruit and hire new nurses, its sophisticated algorithms also helped recruiters predict the clinical competency and suitability of each candidate.

Perks and pitfalls

Hampton explains that AI can also save recruiters time and effort when used to accomplish routine contact and scheduling tasks, many of which can be automated. "Sourcing can be repetitive, but AI tools can compile information much faster than a person could using a manual database search,” she says.

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In addition, AI can inspire creativity by helping recruiters develop and identify new ideas. "For instance, a simple messaging prompt from a generative AI tool can lead to solutions that may have otherwise remained dormant,” Hampton adds.

Despite its transformative potential, AI has significant limitations that can affect its efficiency and utility, cautions Hampton. In a recent Stanford University study, the latest version of ChatGPT performed substantially worse than the previous version in identifying prime numbers – a skill one might assume technology could master. The study is a pertinent reminder of AI’s shortcomings, including its imperfect process of pulling data from so many different and potentially conflicting sources, says Hampton. “It’s important to carefully review and verify any information provided by AI,” she adds.

Al also falls short in its ability to interpret human emotions and social clues. "Human beings are just better than technology at reading other human beings," she explains. Hampton uses the example of a candidate who has had several jobs over the course of her career. "AI might strike that candidate for 'job hopping,' but a human being might review the same application and conclude that the candidate simply has yet to find her passion," she says.

Adapting to AI

Hampton believes the human component will always play an invaluable role in the recruitment process.

"Recruiters still need to have actual conversations with candidates to explore what they are looking for and find a perfect fit," she says. "AI might be able to draft a well-written email, but you eventually have to actually talk to applicants if you really want to understand their goals and desires.”

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The key to adapting and using AI, explains Hampton, is slow, deliberate exploration: Learn how to use machine learning to your advantage – and understand when not to use it. She also emphasizes that the rapid growth of AI raises important ethical questions, including concerns about data privacy and informed consent, which must be addressed by healthcare leaders.

“Adequate oversight, appropriate limits and practice are essential when applying any new technology – and this is especially true of something as powerful as AI,” she says.

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