Is technology detrimental to the recruitment sector?

Posted on 7 Sep 2022

The past few years has seen an exponential growth in the use of technology in the recruitment sector. It is now considered an essential part of the recruitment process and has saved employers time, resources, and costs. However, this increased reliance has also raised questions over the inclusivity of recruitment technology, and people are raising concerns over the use of AI in the sector. So how has recruitment technology developed in recent years? Is it detrimental or beneficial to the industry? And what does this mean for IT and recruitment departments now and in the future?

The history of technology in recruitment.

The recruitment industry in the years before 2020 was predominantly people focused. Whilst new technology had emerged that allowed employers to identify, contact, and screen potential candidates for their vacancy, the majority of interviews and selections were done in person. However, as the pandemic developed in March 2020 and more of us began working at home, the potential for remote recruitment facilities became not only available, but essential.

Now, recruitment technologies can cover most if not all of the recruitment process, including identifying talent and matching them with vacancy profiles, creating a short list of potential candidates, conducting pre-interview evaluations and online interviews, pre-employment tests (including problem-solving and competency tests), offer employment and negotiate with candidates, and contract signing. At every step of the process there is new, developing, or existing technology to save employers time and resources.

But what does the future of recruitment technology look like?  Will there be a more intensive use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)? AI is already being used to identify suitable candidates for vacancies, but this has brought with it problems and concerns over inclusivity. So, is this new developing technology a help or a setback in the recruitment industry?

The impact of technology in recruitment

Whilst AI technology has brought with it many advantages to the sector, it has also brought new problems to overcome. AI is currently being used to monitor, observe, and record a candidate’s competency to complete a job before their initial interview, using tools such as facial recognition and video technology. However, for individuals with neurodiversity, this can be an added complication.

Data collected by the Office for National Statistics and reported by BBC Three found that “autistic people, those with specific learning disabilities, or mental health issues have the lowest employment rates.” Although AI may be preferrable for some individuals with neurodiversity, others feel it puts them at a disadvantage due to a reliance on eye contact and continuous speech, not allowing for a diversity in speech and mannerisms.

There have also been concerns raised regarding AI’s impact on women’s recruitment and the gender pay gap. As Euronews discuss, new reports have found that developing technologies are making it harder for women to progress in the workplace.

Issues such as current technology being developed using male-dominated workplaces have been identified as a barrier preventing women from being considered for vacancies. Algorithms are also influencing women, as studies have found that when a user identifies as female they are shown fewer higher-paying jobs than those who identify as male. AI is also influencing the type of jobs women are offered, typically those with “soft skills” as opposed to those in sectors such as technology or engineering, which are typically higher paid.

However, AI does have benefits for recruitment. It is increasingly being used to identify and monitor online offensive messaging, harassment, or bullying, including in the workplace.

Technology has the potential to make the workplace more diverse, however to quote Nat Hawley, head of community at Exceptional Individuals in conversation with BBC Three, current AI technology should be “train[ed] to be inclusive”, or it may have a negative impact on representation in the workplace.

The impact on IT and Recruitment

Despite its issues, it looks as though technology, including AI, is here to stay in the Recruitment industry. But with questions raised about its fairness and inclusivity, IT professionals will need to work hard to uncover its root issues and resolve them, so that the recruitment industry can develop into an inclusive, rather than an exclusive process.

Have you had a positive or negative experience with AI technology in the workplace? If you have a story to share, we’d love to hear it. Get in touch to let us know your thoughts.