Season 5 • Minisode

With the emergence of artificial intelligence automation like machine learning and ChatGPT, AI is rapidly permeating the human resources/talent acquisition world, in hopes of making work life easier for HR professionals while simultaneously creating faster, more streamlined processes for job seekers.

As exciting as it is, the information on this technology can be overwhelming and fraught with some difficulties and unforeseen pitfalls. Join Elliott Obermaier and Ruth Toombs from Recruit Rooster as they discuss what AI in the HR space is, how it works and some current obstacles.


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About DE Talk

For DirectEmployers, it’s all about valuable connections and meaningful conversations. This monthly podcast features honest and open dialogue between powerhouse industry experts on a variety of HR topics ranging from OFCCP compliance advice to emerging recruitment marketing trends, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and insightful solutions that help infuse new life into your HR strategies.

Hosted by Candee Chambers, Executive Director of DirectEmployers Association.


Elliott Obermaier

Elliott Obermaier

Sales Associate at Recruit Rooster

Elliott Obermaier joined the recruitment marketing industry following his graduation from Indiana University. He is passionate about developing well-branded, creative career sites that attract new talent. Elliott focuses on helping employers modernize their recruitment marketing technology in order to reach and attract the next generation of candidates. In his free time, Elliott enjoys performing with his band at gigs around the Midwest, traveling, backpacking and hiking.


Ruth Toombs

Ruth Toombs

Sales Manager, Recruit Rooster

Ruth Toombs is the Sales Manager at Recruit Rooster. With an enthusiastic, upbeat personality and close to a decade’s experience in the human resources technology industry, Ruth is passionate about helping employers develop recruitment marketing solutions that are not only aesthetically appealing, but also accessible to all.

Episode Transcript

Candee Chambers (00:02):

Get ready. The DE Talk podcast starts now, insightful conversations and dialogue, helping you put the human factor back in HR.

Ruth Toombs (00:15):

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the DE Talk Podcast. Guess what? It’s Recruit Rooster Takeover.

Elliott Obermaier (00:20):


Ruth Toombs (00:22):

My name is Ruth Tombs. I’m a sales manager here at Recruit Rooster.

Elliott Obermaier (00:26):

My name is Elliott Obermaier. I work very closely with Ruth as one of the sales representatives here.

Ruth Toombs (00:31):

We are pretty excited to dig into this. We went to a couple of conferences that really showcased the AI landscape in recruitment marketing, essentially, so we’ve been doing a little recon for you as well as for us. Before we unpack though, I really would be remiss to not mention how Recruit Rooster’s parent company, DirectEmployers, is helping companies hold to ethical practices when using AI.


Now, probably the most important thing companies can do to some disparity analysis to ensure the data being collected is not biased, as in only providing white male candidates, Asian male candidates, or even Black female candidates. If a company is purchasing AI software, they should ask the company providing the software about the validation studies they have done with the software and how they’ve handled any disparities they have found. If they don’t know what you’re talking about, they’re probably not the company with whom you should be doing business.


All right, Elliott, so let’s start off with this is new stuff. What is AI? Obviously, we know a little bit about it, but again, what is it in the HR/TA space?

Elliott Obermaier (01:36):

Yeah, I think it’s important to remember in a lot of ways that AI is still a very new technology in terms of integration. Obviously, it’s been being developed for a long while at this point, but it’s the buzz topic that everybody’s really, really overly familiar with, so I really want to break it down in terms of HR specifically and its uses there.

Ruth Toombs (01:53):

I love it, and I always feel like I’m dating myself a little bit, but I’m like, “This still feels really new.”

Elliott Obermaier (01:57):

I know. It does. It’s new in the sense that it’s being talked about for the first time, I think, in a mass context. There’s an AI in HR technology podcast, there’s an AI in sales podcast, there’s an AI in every industry podcast it seems.

Ruth Toombs (02:12):

It can be a little overwhelming, I think.

Elliott Obermaier (02:13):

Definitely, definitely. I think our goal today is really kind of just to break it down from a what is AI in terms of the TA and the HR space. So, to really summarize, AI is just a technological field which combines computer science and large data sets to enable problem-solving. It also encompasses some subfields of machine learning and deep learning, which are frequently mentioned in conjunction with artificial intelligence. These types of disciplines are comprised of AI algorithms which seek to create expert systems and make predictions or classifications based on input data.


Really, HR and TA refers to the deployment of machine learning (ML) with natural language processing (NLP) and other AI technologies to automate human resource tasks and support decision-making. It enables a data-based approach to talent acquisition, employee advancement, and retention that seeks to mitigate bias and enhance the job seeker’s and employee’s experience while saving organizations a lot of time.


Those AI tools have the capabilities to really assist HR leaders in a wide array of areas, including the following; with employee records management, recruitment, and hiring processes. Think reading resumes, assessing skills, et cetera, on that end. There’s a lot of payroll processing, performance management and assessments, benefits administration, onboarding new employees, HR support, and service desks, and truthfully, there are a number of ways that AI can help in the fact that it is a faster way to process data than humans can compute.

Ruth Toombs (03:35):

For sure.

Elliott Obermaier (03:36):

AI is constantly, I think, developing in ways that people refer to it. You can reference ChatGPT as saying you’re mitigating time by using it to generate better emails for your TA and HR solutions and anything on that end. There’s a whole plethora of ways, but those are the specifics.

Ruth Toombs (03:52):

It sounds like in a lot of ways it’s taking some of the mundane, routine tasks and applying that to it, right?

Elliott Obermaier (03:58):


Ruth Toombs (03:59):

Right. I don’t like Excel, Elliott. I don’t like any of it, so this is great. This is news for me.

Elliott Obermaier (04:04):

Absolutely. Yeah, and I think that that’s the reference that people need to have with AI is that it’s not taking over jobs or replacing people. It’s making your job more enjoyable because it’s taking away some of the mundane. If you like, the mundane, the next 20 years may be a little rough, but-

Ruth Toombs (04:23):


Elliott Obermaier (04:24):

… it’s definitely something that is enabling job seekers both to have a better understanding of building out their skill set through AI and saving time, but it’s also helping organizations reach those job seekers with developing better skills. It’ll create an even playing field in a lot of ways by saving all that time.

Ruth Toombs (04:40):

No, that makes a lot of sense. I guess now it’s time to really discuss what does AI look like in human resources and talent acquisition. This is probably just very high level. There’s a lot more, but we’ll dig in to keep it a little higher level than typically.


Generative AI, it’s the ability to create new emails, reports, documents, text messages, things like that. Those things are very exciting to me.

Elliott Obermaier (05:06):


Ruth Toombs (05:08):

I love that. The machine learning, which always sounds very futuristic, doesn’t it? Machine learning. This kind of AI uses algorithms to identify patterns, and it helps to make predictions based on past behavior, and it’s after plugging in all of your existing data, so think salaries, performance reviews, all that good stuff.


This is the one I really like too, for obvious reasons, because we have a part of this in Recruit Rooster, so natural language processing. Think when you type something weird or wrong into Google, which I do every day of my life, and it responds with, “Did you mean?” Natural language processing analyzes text from emails or other written communication to determine whether an employee is happy or unhappy with their job based on what they say in the writing. It’s giving computers the ability to support and even manipulate human language. I know it sounds scary. And it gets smarter over time. In fact, as a part of our job search function with our career site, Hosting Solutions, we provide Google Talent Job Search API. It is a way to get job seekers matched faster and more accurately to jobs.


Then the fourth would be predictive analytics. When it comes to hiring, predictive analytics can analyze past hiring data and determine which qualities led to successful employees. It might be a specific skill set, educational background, or even personality traits. With this information, you can fine-tune your recruitment strategy, and you get to focus on candidates who are most likely to thrive in your company and culture.


I really enjoyed … We went to a conference recently. Kayla Campbell is vice president, total talent, diversity and enterprise development at Pernod Ricard. Uh, knew I get that right. We were at Opal Group DEI Summit in Orlando, and she talked a lot about some really cool AI. It gave me a better understanding by breaking it down and showing me what’s out there.


Poe, it’s like a chatbot hub, and it’s an AI platform where users can interact with different AI agents. It offers this impressive array of distinct chatbots in one place. At first, it was a little scary when I went on there because I was like, “Man, there’s just so much.” But then I was able to really hone in on it.

Elliott Obermaier (07:22):

Yeah, and I think she said a really great point that I loved of AI is not going to take over, and it won’t replace you, but employees who don’t use AI will be replaced by employees who are willing to use it.

Ruth Toombs (07:35):


Elliott Obermaier (07:36):

And that was one of my biggest takeaways from it. It’s just it’s assistive.

Ruth Toombs (07:39):

Yeah, you can’t fear something. You have to understand it. What is it? Knowledge is power.

Elliott Obermaier (07:43):


Ruth Toombs (07:44):

It doesn’t matter how little scary it is. It’s better to understand it, right?

Elliott Obermaier (07:47):


Ruth Toombs (07:49):

You got to understand it. Yeah, a couple of others, it was like ChatGPT. I think everybody’s pretty familiar with that. Claude, there was a lot more, but one I thought was really cool was MedQBot. You can ask any med school questions, and I would probably get into so much trouble because I’m a WebMD person, and I think I’m dying every two seconds.

Elliott Obermaier (08:08):

No, totally. I got coffee with one of my friends who’s in their third or fourth year of med school right now, and they’re talking about the different uses with MedQBot, and specifically, it doesn’t replace it. Again, it doesn’t replace anything, but it does make certain things just easier in that it’s right there. In a lot of ways, when the internet and Google first became really, really accessible, it’s like instead of going to the encyclopedia-

Ruth Toombs (08:34):

Oh, yeah.

Elliott Obermaier (08:35):

… that takes 30 minutes to search and find. It’s a quick question to ask.

Ruth Toombs (08:39):

Yeah, this is just a transition. We’ve got to evolve with the technology, right?

Elliott Obermaier (08:42):

Absolutely, absolutely.

Ruth Toombs (08:43):

The last one I was going to share, it was like Emoji Chat, which I would love this so much. It creates full chats with nothing but emojis. I did play with that for a while. It was very fun.


All right, so Elliott, we covered that kind of piece, so what are some possible use cases?

Elliott Obermaier (08:59):

Yeah, I think there’s a lot of different ways like we were talking that AI can start implementing into the regular workday, but some of the things that I thought were the most interesting … I did some work with Gartner and researching with them to just learn a little bit more. Obviously, they’ve been at the forefront of so many research in the business world before, but the first is professional learning and development. Where do workers see themselves in five years?


AI has the potential to assist in recommending personalized training modules for career mobility. It can analyze data on each employee such as their skills and preferences, so then the AI could actually tailor their training according to personal goals, and AI could also help potential HR managers identify hidden talent or identify employees who are ready for promotion based on the patterns that it recognizes within those employees.


Also, encouraging workers to start saving time with tools like ChatGPT. HR managers can use that time and then develop better learning and development programs, better engagement programs for their team so that the workplace is less Excel work like you’re talking about and more really digging into your actual day-to-day task.


The other area that I always think is really interesting … we are in the TA space … is candidate sourcing and hiring. I think a common complaint that a lot of people have about the hiring process is that it’s so slow.

Ruth Toombs (10:10):

Oh, my gosh. It’s like jumping through hoops of fire for a lot … Especially larger enterprise companies, oh, my goodness. We’re in a space where we’re small, but we’re mighty, so we don’t have to deal with that, but imagine the companies that have all these layers.

Elliott Obermaier (10:22):

Yeah, even then it still took-

Ruth Toombs (10:23):

It is. It takes a minute.

Elliott Obermaier (10:24):

… how long it takes for any organization. So, I think AI can really help pick up a pace by helping managers nurture each potential hire automatically. It allows them to receive more notifications when candidates apply for open positions, stuff like that. Also, in terms of short-term workers, so many organizations aren’t hiring for the uber-long-scale, invested positions.

Ruth Toombs (10:43):

Right now, it’s the holiday season.

Elliott Obermaier (10:44):

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, AI and HR can help organizations fill those positions quickly by using NLP or natural language processing capabilities. Those tools can automate manual procurement tasks, save HR teams valuable time for planning for strategic innovations and meeting client needs. For example, AI tools can actually help managers compile requirements from stakeholders and then work within a vendor management system to open a request with suppliers to find potential contractors and schedule interviews with hiring managers. So, it really can really help just organize a better system and create that automation that allows the hiring process to flow more quickly.


One of my favorite aspects of AI in HR is the onboarding process.

Ruth Toombs (11:27):

I was going to say, you’ve been with us a little over a year now, and think about instead of me in your face all day for two months of training, which was fun, but imagine if it was just right there with the checkboxes, you knew where to go, what to do.

Elliott Obermaier (11:42):


Ruth Toombs (11:42):

That’s something we need to start adopting, so I really like that.

Elliott Obermaier (11:45):

Yeah, and the ChatGPT or the chatbots for a specific organization is so valuable. I think back to my experience with onboarding, and something that I always felt really guilty about was just asking questions because if Seth is looking super busy over on the sales engineering side, I don’t want to get up and ask him a question and get the Elliottt, why did you ask me a question face. Having some of those types of chatbots in that system almost creates a way that, I think, new hires can feel like they’re learning more quickly about the organization internally, so that way they don’t have to wonder. Because the hardest question for me when I’m onboarding that I know a lot of people is what should I already know.

Ruth Toombs (12:24):

Yeah, what should I already be aware of? I think sometimes I’ve been with the company almost a decade, so sometimes, even though I feel I’m a very much so a nurturer, a mama bear, but there are things that I’m not going to necessarily recall as being necessary. I just like, “Oh, it’s just common knowledge,” but it’s not going to be common knowledge to somebody who’s new, especially new to the workforce.

Elliott Obermaier (12:44):

1,000%. Yeah, 1,000%. Especially, coming out of college. For me, this has been my first experience out of there. Having some sort of chatbot would’ve been really nice just to … Sometimes I’m like, “Oh, this is just a general business structure that I have forgotten since my business class or haven’t used yet…”

Ruth Toombs (13:02):

If there’s a database that has all of this basic information, you can just access it.

Elliott Obermaier (13:05):


Ruth Toombs (13:06):

Like it. Love it.

Elliott Obermaier (13:07):

The other automated HR service that I really enjoyed was just responding to employee needs is so key to improving engagement and productivity-

Ruth Toombs (13:14):

Which is kind of part of what you were saying, right?

Elliott Obermaier (13:16):


Ruth Toombs (13:16):

It’s very similar, yeah.

Elliott Obermaier (13:17):

But navigating through really complex corporate policies, through HR and IT support processes can leave employees struggling to find answers, so maybe HR chatbots in a lot of ways from a more IT perspective too, can really help. We had all those updates earlier this week, and so having some of those benefits, I think, really could help other employees feel like they’re understanding different aspects of the business in a way that doesn’t require so much cross-communication.

Ruth Toombs (13:44):

No, it makes a lot of sense. Lot of sense.

Elliott Obermaier (13:47):

Let’s talk about some of the benefits in HR and TA with AI.

Ruth Toombs (13:50):

All righty, so if companies begin to use AI and HR … so many acronyms … to achieve more strategic goals, they may be able to see some really advanced benefits as well. We’re definitely going to be getting on that train as well. One of the areas, and this was from the McKinsey Health Institute, talked about enhanced employee support. In 2022, one in four employees was experiencing burnout symptoms according to a global survey. For teams that want to better understand their employees to improve job satisfaction and performance, AI can be a useful resource if used in a very responsible way.


The next would be increased efficiency, so think automation and generative AI tools can save HR teams time by taking in, again, that routine task work. Think data reviewing and analyzing the outcomes of recruiting efforts, which in turn can really allow recruiters and hiring managers to identify and refine what is successful. No reinventing the wheel.


A third area would be enhanced candidate experiences. Along each step of the recruitment process from hiring to onboarding, AI can help managers save time and better reach top talent. For example, managers can prompt generative AI tools to create customized messages that are automatically sent to each candidate. These messages can encourage and move candidates along in the hiring process. Just having that ability to have that two-way authentic communication would make a big difference.


In fact, while we’re talking about that, Recruit Rooster’s Talent Community CRM instance, it actually utilizes ChatGPT, and studies show that about 80% of job seekers would rather use texting to communicate with prospective employers, so we use intelligent targeting email, text, and campaign to essentially nurture your job seeker pipeline and gain an increase in response rates, personalize that experience anytime and anywhere, and of course with the ChatGPT included.


All right, we talked about all the awesome things, but we also have to look at the pitfalls. Let’s keep in mind what are some of the challenges. This is disruptive technology, and it comes with some of these little pitfalls. I’ll give you an example. Again, back to Kayla Campbell again, she was sharing a story about how AI was able to find 90% of cavities in X-rays. And guess what, guys? Clutch your pearls. Dentists only find about 50%. I was like, “What?” That’s insane.


Think about those kinds of things. Those are some really cool features. Again, mundane routine, but it’s able to see things that even the human eye was not able to necessarily detect. What about you, Elliottt?

Elliott Obermaier (16:28):

Yeah, I think one of the stories that she told that really stood out to me was about the AI tool DALL·E. When that first came out, I remember being on Twitter and scrolling through that and thinking, “Oh, this is hilarious” All of a sudden, here’s a picture of whatever you’re thinking of, a big skyscraper in the middle of a forest, stuff that’s really interesting that just creates unusual situations that DALL·E generates these images based on past data on the internet.


But when it was starting to get introduced in the HR space, it was asked to generate images of doctors, and the majority of the images of the doctors that it created were white males. And then it was asked to generate images of service laborers, and the majority were Latin American. As you can see, the data sets that these technology and HIs are using are from past internet and what is existent on the internet now.

Ruth Toombs (17:15):

It’s based on humans. At the end of the day, it is based on humans and how we interact and how we perceive the world.

Elliott Obermaier (17:21):

It’s our history on the internet. It’s our data that’s out there, and as we know, the internet is far from a perfect place. So, all of that history is not bias-free by any means. This is a tool that comes from biased humans. Therefore, it is a biased tool in a lot of ways. So, I think it is really important that the people developing AI keep that in mind so that way they can create a more equitable stance, but also that when organizations turn to AI and start seeing the efficiencies that they aren’t blind going in knowing that, “Okay, this is not a tool that’s just black and white and perfect. It’s going to have all these biases.”


So, it’s important to really recognize that past data element, I think. There are other aspects that are really difficult, and I think especially that we were talking about that we’re in this transitionary period. One of the things that I think is really fascinating is this bumpy rollout process. Organizations really should be prepared to … AI models should be ingrained, but people are going to resist it.

Ruth Toombs (18:19):

For sure. For sure.

Elliott Obermaier (18:21):

The person who has been at the organization for 52 years and is really close to retirement, they’re probably not going to want to trust a robot.

Ruth Toombs (18:30):


Elliott Obermaier (18:31):

Stuff like that, I think, is really important that organizations do a good job with employee security and recognizing employee privacy.

Ruth Toombs (18:38):

It’s about the rollout. How do we put this in front of our employees? It can’t just be like, “Well, here you go.” We have to be delicate about it. Consider different generations and how they view things, right?

Elliott Obermaier (18:48):


Ruth Toombs (18:49):

You’re absolutely right.

Elliott Obermaier (18:49):

I think one thing that’s really interesting, I was talking with … My mom is also in the HR space with she does a lot of HR analysis in call centers. That’s a lot of the work that she does right now. That’s her consulting projects. We were talking about this. I was telling her about the podcast that I had coming up, and obviously. She talked about their hiring with different generations of … I missed it in my college experience, never had ChatGPT, but I was the last to not have it.

Ruth Toombs (19:19):

That’s right.

Elliott Obermaier (19:19):

Now, when people hire-

Ruth Toombs (19:19):

Everybody after you.

Elliott Obermaier (19:21):

Yeah. You have to recognize that if you’re hiring someone from that workspace, they’re going to be comfortable using all of these AI tools immediately because they’ve used it in their education, but you also have to make sure that they’re on the same even playing field as the person who has been working at your organization for 10 years, like you and I-

Ruth Toombs (19:36):


Elliott Obermaier (19:37):

… that aren’t as familiar. I think it’s the challenge of the organizations to make sure that there is a base level knowledge of AI tools, or at least the AI tools that that organization is using so that people share the same comfortability with it.

Ruth Toombs (19:50):

Absolutely. Totally agree.

Elliott Obermaier (19:52):

I think that’s one. The last one is this cybersecurity element. That is such a huge, huge play. Anytime that you introduce new types of technology and new types of technology that is incorporated and takes care of so much data, it’s so susceptible to hacking, especially during the training pipeline. When those ML algorithms are created, data poisoning attacks can seed some malicious code or information in the training sets, potentially infecting countless of those ML model runs and ultimately, the company network. So, business leaders should work very closely along IT and security operation centers to create plans that will keep AI secure through the entire lifestyle. I think that’s the area that is most important.


Then lastly, it’s really distinguishing that myth from reality. That was something that Gartner research that I was doing talked about of just AI needs to be introduced to employees in a way that is pertinent. If an employee doesn’t need to use ChatGPT to function in their job, don’t force it on them.

Ruth Toombs (20:49):

That’s right. The unknown is scary. Education is key.

Elliott Obermaier (20:52):

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

Ruth Toombs (20:54):

I love it. Again, our parent company, DirectEmployers, who is the expert on OSCCP compliance as well as a whole host of human resources needs and concerns. With the extremely fast pace, AI is moving, they’re staying up to date with the technology and acknowledging ethical concerns.


Again, we talked about this earlier, Elliott had mentioned it, so I want to close with this. According to the Harvard Business Review, it was something that was said and it said again, “AI won’t replace humans, but it will replace humans who don’t use AI.” So, keep that in mind. Don’t be afraid of it. Definitely do your research, and companies, I urge you from an upper leadership perspective to definitely do your research as well.


All right, so this has been DE Talk Podcast with the Recruit Rooster Takeover. Again, this is Ruth.

Elliott Obermaier (21:40):

This is Elliottt.

Ruth Toombs (21:40):

We appreciate your time and happy listening.

Elliott Obermaier (21:42):

Thank you so much.

Candee Chambers (21:45):

Thank you for tuning in for another episode of the DE Talk Podcast. Stay connected with DirectEmployers on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and subscribe to our emails by visiting to receive notifications of new episodes each month.

Candee Chambers
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