The organizations that will win in the future when it comes to their ability to attract the best candidates will be those that build a strong employer brand, have creative sourcing strategies and are able to source the right candidates (especially passives!) in days versus months. Proactively building a talent pipeline for key positions/skill areas before the candidate is needed is critical. This is a tall order given the challenges recruiters face today, the ineffectiveness of
applicant tracking and recruitment systems and the incredible amount of manual work they must do to find talent. Furthermore, skilled job seekers know it is a waste of time to apply to online job postings because it requires a lot of effort and generally doesn't bear fruit (where is the automation? the use of artificial intelligence??). And most recruiters I know are yearning for the day when they can focus on people and not processes.
Interestingly, downturns present opportunities (and often a necessity) to outperform - just look at Amazon's sudden need to fill 100,000 positions during COVID - they turned to automation to screen over one million applicants in record time (1). Bots were used by a healthcare organization to reduce volunteer onboarding from 5 days to 4 hours: bots ran background checks, recorded results in the HR system and provided notification, reducing manual data input by 35% (2).
Background on RPA
Robotic Process Automation is the use of software to mimic human interactions with various systems, websites and other applications (e.g., Peoplesoft, SAP, Excel, LinkedIn, Oracle Human Capital, Saba, Cornerstone, Indeed, etc.). This is known as the concept of "digital labor," and the software that executes the work is called a bot. Processes that are ripe for automation are ones that are manually intensive, repeatable/rule-based, high in volume, prone to error and have high revenue or costs associated to them. Bots are particularly useful in HR because 1) HR is fraught with manual processes across applications and with people via email, chat, text, etc. and 2) bots are non-biased and dramatically improve compliance. The key benefits of using bots are as follows:
They improve accuracy (they don't make mistakes unless programmed incorrectly),
They enable humans to do higher quality work (e.g., evaluate/strategize/act upon data vs. manually processing or moving it),
They improve worker productivity, and
They reduce costs and enable the redeployment of humans to more fruitful tasks.
The top areas that RPA is being adopted by Enterprises are:
RPA in Recruiting
The use of RPA in recruiting enables Recruiters to use their time on high value tasks that humans are good at, such as quality time with applicants and strategizing on recruitment strategies with hiring managers/clients. Following are common processes that are automated by enterprises:
Candidate sourcing and screening: bots can pour through thousands of sources and to come up with a high quality, targeted candidate list
Collect, organize and upload recruit information and store it in the applicant tracking system (ATS)
Extract data from LinkedIn reports (bot can read PDF and extract the data into a properly formatted csv file), upload data back to LinkedIn so that an available position can be marketed to the targeted audience accordingly
Reply to candidate queries
RPA for Small Recruiting Agencies/Consultants
A Consultant/individual recruiter who works on his/her own, or a small recruiting agency shouldn't dismiss the idea of using a bot. Frankly, if I was a recruiter, I'd use a personal bot to just help me with my load! Deployment of a bot can enable a single consultant do the work of 3, and a small recruiting agency can operationally handle the load of a much larger one if bots are deployed in the right places for the right processes. For example, I had one of our developers create a bot to scrape some data from LinkedIn and populate it to a spreadsheet: it took him 20 minutes to build the bot, and it saved me days of work because of the number of contacts I was working with. Imagine what you could accomplish if you could have 2 or 3 or more free assistants??
What Would the Future Look Like?
If recruiters could spend their time focusing on time with people, both hiring managers and candidates, it would be a game changer for how quickly talent is found, the quality of candidates and the candidate experience. Imagine a world where...
Recruiters are instantly provided with a list of interesting, highly qualified candidates
Upon locating a great candidate, the bot asks the recruiter if s/he would like to schedule an interview
After the interview, the bot asks the recruiter which message to send ("I'd like to move you to the next stage," or "I will contact you in a few weeks," "here is how to process reimbursement for your travel expenses")
If moved to the next stage, the bot asks the recruiter who to schedule next for second round interviews
In this article, we have only talked about the use of RPA for handling repetitive manual tasks in recruiting. There's another world to consider in this space: artificial intelligence, where machine learning enables the execution of tasks that require basic judgement based on how the most successful recruiters operate. More on that in our next blog - stay tuned!
Be sure to review our other use-case focused blogs:
- Hernan Saenx, Nate Anderson, Dianne Ledingham and Michelle Supko. "The 'New Normal' Is A Myth. The Future Won't Be Normal At All," June 5, 2020, https://www.bain.com/insights/the-new-normal-is-a-myth-the-future-wont-be-normal-at-all/
- Daniel Pullen. "Robotic Process Automation in Healthcare," Hospital Healthcare, September 14, 2020, https://www.hospitalhealth.com.au/content/technology/article/robotic-process-automation-in-health-care-292738552#axzz6ZNOhVPxL