Artificial intelligence (A.I.) in talent acquisition is not just for finding new job candidates. It has 360-degree potential, believes Jason Cerrato, senior director of product marketing at Eightfold, an A.I. talent acquisition and management platform. “We're doing this to not only identify hidden talent out there in the world, but maybe hidden talent that's right in front of our face, in our organizations,” he said at From Day One’s December virtual conference on the future of work, in which he gave a presentation on how to use A.I. to find undiscovered talent in multiple ways.
“Managing talent, acquiring talent, working in any talent function is difficult under ‘normal’ times–if things are ever normal–but we are definitely seeing a variety of challenges that are addressing both talent acquisition and talent management as well as challenging the way we do things going forward,” he said. Cerrato outlined use cases for talent-acquisition AI that can support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), talent-pool expansion, talent mobility, and helping companies compete for the most in-demand workers. His five cases:
Competing for in-demand skills: Using A.I. or talent acquisition is a way to compete in a labor market where very specific skills and roles are in demand. “We've been looking for the same talent in a lot of organizations, as organizations have all become data companies, regardless of industry,” he said. Cerrato referred to a Gartner study which found that 49% of job postings by S&P 100 companies were for the same 39 roles. He believes competition will continue to be tight. “We're all going after skills tied to digital transformation, and part of this is making talent acquisition and external recruiting ever more difficult, in addition to all of the context and environmental factors and remote work that are changing our workplace.”
Identifying adjacent skills: Employers can use A.I. to identify adjacent skills, which means taking the skill criteria for one role and comparing it to others to see where they overlap, thus identifying talent that can be developed in either direction. Cerrato said this is a way to broaden your talent pool and as a result, bolster DEI work by developing and elevating diverse talent.
Language: Artificial intelligence can also help you write better job descriptions and more deftly search for diverse talent by competency. Cerrato gave this example: If you were to search for a product manager and used the phrase “product development” instead of “product management,” you’re 1.5 times more likely to find female candidates. And in the case of “business development” vs. “strategic planning,” you’re twice as likely to find female candidates if you use the latter.
Internal talent marketplaces: These provide a popular way to identify opportunities for developing current employees. Especially for companies in a hiring freeze, internal marketplaces can help managers identify what new skills workers should learn and where they should move next. “Internal talent marketplaces aren't necessarily the tool where you create opportunities for the work that no one wants,” he said. “This is about strategically selecting work to either grow your audience or to respond to environmental factors. This allows for a more talent-centered design approach, focusing on the work at hand, and then increasing employee awareness about those opportunities, as well as tracking the activity gained from these efforts.”
These marketplaces present another chance to support DEI plans. According to Cerrato, marketplaces can be used to “track some of the projects and development gained through efforts like employee resource groups (ERGs), which may not be tracked through other systems or may not be monitoring the skills gained because it may not be tied to a person's job.”
Reskilling and upskilling for the future: The future of your business depends on your workforce having the right skills. A.I. can help future-proof the company with what Cerrato called “skill mapping,” or identifying “emerging skills or fading skills to see how you're aligning yourself to your future business goals, but maybe also to the market and to the competition.”
All of this is in the service, he said, of identifying “the talent you want to build, the talent you want to buy, the talent you want to borrow, and how you mix that total workforce approach together.”
Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in Richmond, Va.