We’re so excited to be back with the DE Talk podcast, and we’re kicking off season two with a great conversation on technology. In this episode, our VP of Strategic Partnerships, Shannon Offord, chats with Peter Weddle, author and CEO of TAtech, the Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions, about the future of technology–and humans–in the area of talent acquisition. Take a look at some of the conversation highlights below, and be sure to listen to the full episode for more great information and insight!
Peter, welcome to the podcast! How have you seen talent acquisition shift over the past 10 to 15 years? I know obviously with COVID going on right now some things have changed, but a lot of those new technologies were emerging prior to COVID. What have you seen over the last few years?
Well, I think back in the early days, let’s push it back just a little bit further maybe back to the year 2000, really we were questioning the role of technology in the recruiting team, “How are we going to fit job boards, and then aggregators, and then social media sites into the strategies and tactics that we have under way?” The real dynamic was figuring out the role of technology. Today, it’s exactly the opposite. We’re trying to figure out the role of recruiters. All of the technology is now a given. It’s obviously different in every organization, but there’s no doubt that we’re seeing an increasingly automated, an increasingly intelligent, technology-based recruiting function; and in that kind of environment, what are humans supposed to do?
Right. And how do you feel the global pandemic, has really impacted talent acquisition (TA)?
Well, I think in fairness, talent acquisition isn’t just dealing with the pandemic: it’s dealing with the social justice movement; it’s dealing with the recession.
We here at TAtech do a weekly newsletter for the talent acquisition community among employers, and I wrote a piece called, “A Cure for Common Corporate Insanity,” and what I was talking about how Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different results, and I think that’s what a lot of companies are doing. They are looking at the impact of the pandemic, looking at the impact of the recession and the social justice movement, and a lot of hiring has stopped.
So, what they are doing is they’re doing what they’ve always done. They are reducing the budgets of recruiting teams, they’re laying-off recruiters; and at the very same time that they’re doing that, they’re telling those recruiting teams, “Now, listen: The key to business success is higher performers, so we want you to get out there and hire a whole bunch of high performers. Oh, by the way, while you’re doing that, make sure that it’s a diverse population and that we have D&I well-covered.” They’re laying this huge requirement on the recruiting team, but at the same time they’re going back to old habits: reducing the budget, cutting headcount.
Yeah. We actually had a D&I Roundtable yesterday, and one of the questions that we asked was about the annual budget cuts, and have you had to do more with less, and pretty much everyone in that Zoom call started nodding their head “yes.” So, I definitely think that you’re right. People do revert back to what they know, unfortunately, and start to reduce headcount and still expect all the work to get done. Do you think that technology… obviously, it can play a part in that to help, but what do you think about AI and how that’s going to play a role moving forward in talent acquisition?
Well, I think it is a challenge. I think the problem is that the capability of this intelligent technology is accelerating and growing so fast that we’re quickly passing the point where humans could keep up. Moore’s Law said that the power of computers was going to double every two years. Well, that looks like horse-and-buggy kinds of rates compared to the way AI is developing.
I think in the near term there are two challenges. We do a biweekly webinar series for HR and talent acquisition people called TAtech Live, and when people register we only ask them one question and that is, “In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic challenge, what is the single greatest challenge that you’re facing in talent acquisition?” and in many cases, among the top three responses, every time we run a program, is two things: the first is keeping up to date, “How do we as talent acquisition professionals even know what are the capabilities out there, let alone what will work in our organization?” and the second is, “How do we integrate this stuff into our tech stack and make sure that it works as represented?”
I think those are two big challenges that companies are going to have to address here and now, and they’re not trivial by any means. Then, as we said at the very outset, as time goes along and this stuff becomes more and more powerful, we’re going to have to really figure out where humans fit in.
Right. One thing you mentioned earlier, you talked about the social justice movement. Do you think technology can make a difference for companies trying to do better in the D&I space?
Listen to the full episode to hear Peter’s answer and to this question and so many others! Thank you to Shannon & Peter for this great conversation–and stay tuned for more great content and collaborations with TAtech coming soon!
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