UK recruiters are developing technology, including artificial intelligence that allows them to offer people jobs before they even start to look.
With this sort of information, AI can identify someone who is about to begin a formal job hunt, which would allow the company to pre-emptively contact them with relevant roles.
“Data and artificial intelligence can provide accurate insights as to whether an individual would be receptive to a particular job. Its a race to get very strong candidates in front of your client before the competition.
Hays is just one of the large global recruiters, several of which are headquartered in the UK, investing in technology in an effort to match jobseekers and roles more swiftly and efficiently.
Technology is already replacing some of the more mundane tasks that headhunters typically undertake, such as screening CVs and manually sifting through candidates to draw up a shortlist.
Other developments include recruitment chatbots, a trend towards video CVs and using AI to profile job applicants.
But there is also the risk that the technology recruiters are adopting could cannibalise their own business, by automating their role as intermediaries and the swaths of jobs they would typically find candidates for.
“Technology is having a disruptive impact on the recruitment sector – particularly in the blue-collar sector where perhaps the disparity in skills between candidates is a lot less acute, however, it will hurt across the board at the lower levels of… white collar [jobs ] as well.”
Among blue-collar recruiters, there has been consolidation. Netherlands-based human resources consultancy Randstad bought online recruiter Monster in 2016 and Zurich-based Adecco Group acquired jobs website Vettery in February.
Art or science?
Technology has also offered opportunities to small newcomers such as recruiters specializing in a particular sector. For example, where recruitment companies once had to build their own database of candidates, it is now much easier to find people on networks such as LinkedIn.
But recruiters also argue that the art of job matching will never be fully replaced by science. Technology will free up consultants to be more productive, giving them more time to offer clients tailored advice and develop a wider understanding of the market, they say.
“What will happen is recruiters will actually end up being much more like business consultants rather than doing desktop research,” said Albert Ellis, chief executive of Harvey Nash, a recruiter that specializes in technology.
Still, the automation of jobs remains an impending threat. A recent report by McKinsey forecast that between 400m and 800m people could be displaced by automation by 2030.