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RecBuzz 2024: Recruitment via the AI, Data and UX lens

May 30, 2024
28 min read

AI in recruitment and job boards TL;DR

RecBuzz is Europe’s key job boards and hiring marketplaces event. At RecBuzz 2024, we engaged with a myriad of professionals reshaping the recruitment landscape through data and AI. The conference offered a deep dive into the impacts of AI and shifting demographics on the recruitment industry. As a speaker on AI Day, we jumped into why job markets are the most inefficient markets in the world and proposed a visionary approach to hiring, rooted in counterintuitive UX, AI and quality data. One of the best aspects of RecBuzz was the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with global peers – we had plenty of discussions about AI & tech overcoming traditional online recruitment barriers. IMO UX, new models and fostering a data-centric approach will be key to the next stage of evolution of this market. See my presentation @ Gyfted @ RecBuzz

AI Day Insights: earthquake ahead..

The focus of my presentation was on the pressing challenges in recruitment, what we refer to as the “Recruitment Bermuda Triangle” — where job boards, recruitment agencies, and assessment providers want the status quo, the sea of inefficiencies, to stay around forever. Their models are set up for them to not only thrive from these inefficiencies, but to perpetuate them. In this context, AI can be leveraged to streamline hiring and improve job search (at least alleviate the pains). Why is that so? We explain below. 

  • Job boards are adtech businesses – they sell job ads, and they want to sell them in volume
  • Test providers sell glorified Google Forms – they want to sell them in volume, regardless if you’re using them for volume screening, exec search high potential candidate evaluation, or you’re simply looking for an insurance policy to remove accountability from your hiring decisions and blame “tools” for it 😉 
  • Recruitment agencies are brick & mortar, legacy businesses that are prohibitively expensive and slow. Most of the market (of companies recruiting) are priced out from their services. Competitive AI – in my opinion – will damage these businesses. 🙂
  • The Recruitment Supply-Chain Failure: recruitment remains one of the most cumbersome and inefficient supply chains in the world, characterized by slow processes, uncertainty, high costs and a large degree of false positives and false negatives! And this is happening in an industry that we would call the opposite of rocket science – it’s people hiring people! But the way companies do it (90%+ of companies) leaves much room for improvement: inadequate traditional recruitment methods, unstructured interviewing, biases & heuristics, lengthy processes, and the ‘internal recruitment shit-show’ that applicant tracking systems (ATS’) organize for companies. 
  • Data-driven recruitment barely exists in current form. Because data that’s used is public data (full of fluff, noise and PR — that’s what CVs and job posts are!). The significance of high-quality data is #1 in my view. We advocated for AI-led matching processes that are as engaging and intuitive as platforms like Duolingo, ensuring that both companies and candidates find their perfect match with ease. The quality of data in combination with the right user experience are key to making this happen (finally). 

GenAI will increase spam from applicants & recruiters, and worsen the recruitment process

The proliferation of general AI tools has brought both challenges and opportunities. While AI can increase the volume of generic applications, it also offers solutions that can refine recruitment processes, such as advanced filtering techniques and AI-driven assessments. 

  • AI is necessary to streamline the recruitment process by reducing friction and focusing on meaningful candidate engagements. 
  • However, GenAI will worsen things: high volumes of low-quality job applications, exacerbated by the influx of AI-generated resumes and AI-agent driven automated applications, will be a tsunami for job boards, companies and recruiters. 
  • Increased generic applications: Generative AI is leading to an influx of generic CVs and applications, diminishing the quality of job applications.
  • Quality of interaction degrades: as AI tools become more common, we’ll see less meaningful interactions between recruiters and candidates. 

Novel Approaches, Models and Emerging Trends for Job Boards, HRTech and RecruitmentTech

There’s many different takeaways from presentations by data scientists and founders like StepStone’s Tobias Zimmerman, Alexander Chukovsky, Annika von Mutius, Tavis Lochhead, Jeff Berger, Malcolm Myers, Aurelian Cotuna and many others. Here’s a few bullet point takeaways you’ll see value in: 

  • Demographic shifts and GenAI are leveling the playing field, offering smaller entities the same opportunities as large corporations.
  • Integration of hiring and sourcing is happening: AI and other tech are making job search and hiring a more continuous, integrated process. Job boards would love to get as close as possible to the point of hiring (why? To capture more value – charge more in terms of ASP). 
  • Broad AI implementation: large HR tech firms are implementing AI across various functions like job description generation, AI-based resume optimization, and AI-powered matching, indicating a strong move towards AI-driven processes.
  • AI’s impact across the recruitment spectrum will be from AI-enhanced job matching to automated interview question generation, AI’s integration is reshaping how job boards operate and deliver value to users.
  • Big bets on AI: companies like Stepstone are vocal about their AI products, signaling confidence in the technology’s value across the hiring process.
  • AI commoditization concerns: while AI’s role in HR tech is expanding, its actual value in enhancing job board functions remains a subject of much debate. Why? Because while it lowers costs, it also creates problems – it damages the job board business, because user (candidate) behaviors and capabilities are changing due to GenAI Agents! 
  • Innovative business models are being developed to keep the relevance of job boards in an evolving market. Hiring marketplaces and assessments will become more important in the future. Job boards will get hurt, they have to offer more than just job listings
  • Autonomous recruiting: discussions around autonomous systems in recruiting suggest a future where technology handles more of the recruitment process, potentially increasing efficiency but also raising questions about the role of human recruiters.
  • Emerging revenue models: new business models and revenue streams are being explored, such as AI-based resume optimization tools and application assistance products that can be white-labeled for job boards.

A dual job market has formed. Globally.

A dual job market got formed between 2021 and 2024 — the disconnect between the preferences of companies clinging to office-based roles and the growing demand from candidates for remote opportunities. Candidate look for remote jobs. Companies (most) look for in-office or rigid hybrid (1- or 2-days WFH per week!) candidates. They are in two different markets. This gap highlights a major problem, someone’s going to give in, and we bet – given the salary transparency laws coming – that we’ll end up with much more competitive job markets that will benefit candidates. Although cross-border/global hiring will further hurt white-collar/knowledge workers who’ll compete vs emerging market, English-fluent workers. 

Job boards suck for remote hiring.

Remote work has introduced a new, huge and complex, vector in recruitment – thereby multiplying the scale of accessible talent pools while also amplifying existing market mismatches. This shift calls for innovative approaches to align candidate desires with organizational needs, particularly in terms of cultural and operational fit.

  • Job boards COMPLETELY fail to match job seekers with roles, as their systems aren’t tailored to the nuances of remote work preferences and requirements. 90%+ of applicants are not a fit and unqualified for the roles they apply for. This wastes recruiters’ time and generates additional heavy costs on companies. This is because job boards are not tech companies. And they are not marketplaces. They are adtech businesses (it’s funny when you’re in recruitment and you head to a job board conference and the ‘talk of town’ is CPC [cost per click], CPA [cost per acquisition], CPV/CPI [cost per view or cost per impression] and so forth. Job boards are advertising businesses – they’re awesome from a high margin perspective, and if they have network effects then they’ll make a killing. That’s why Monster’s still around.. 
  • Terrible support for remote roles/hiring: traditional job boards (99% of the market!) struggle to accommodate the increasing demand for remote roles, lacking the necessary tools and features to effectively support remote hiring processes: optimizing for matching for time-zones, geographical limitations, and the spectrum of remote work modes – from fully distributed async teams to remote-first to hybrid. 

Coming full circle: demand for assessments, analog & human touch methods will increase

  • Return to human touch: as AI and automation become more prevalent, the unique value of human interactions in recruitment is being recognized as a critical differentiator. In an age of increasing automation, prioritizing human interactions in the recruitment process can distinguish companies in the market. That’s why “HR” and “People & Culture” are becoming increasingly important functions, which data shows clearly (look at Nick Bloom’s research on this). 
  • Increased value of assessments: there’s a growing recognition that more meaningful assessments and interactions are necessary to truly gauge a candidate’s fit and potential, beyond what automated systems can achieve.

Enabling Job Matching 

At Gyfted we’re pioneering a shift towards frictionless job matching. Using AI, structured behavioral data, a vectorized DB (our ontological competencies graph), contextual two-way matching and the right (delightful!) user experience that generates crucial user data, we aim to transform recruitment into a delightful experience for candidates, akin to engaging with their favorite apps. 

Our model is designed to notify candidates with a simple yet compelling message: “You’re invited for an interview with company X” even if they’ve never applied to that company! This is possible by directly addressing what job seekers truly desire, by matching for preferences, and by making sourcing candidate as easy as buying headphones on Amazon. 

We believe that being candidate-first will be ever more important in the future of work given the demographic, remote work, and AI challenges ahead in recruitment. And this is what we talked about at RecBuzz. 

Robert Kowalski, CEO & Blaze Mrozinski, CPO – cofounders @ Gyfted

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