Technology and the development of AI has transformed how organisations reach, attract, hire, and retain the talent that they need, and using the right tools promises major benefits for candidates and hiring teams alike, says Anne Piere.

This innovation comes at a time when many desperately need it. Industries such as food service, manufacturing, retail, and healthcare, which rely on large workforces, face hiring challenges beyond the current tight labour market.

These employers need to hire a large number of workers in short order and face challenges in terms of candidate churn and the high portability of their workforce, who can easily move jobs if they are not happy with their current arrangement. In this context, a slow hiring process will make them lose top-qualified workers to their competitors.

Hiring challenges

With high quit rates during the pandemic and many being slow to return to employment, the need for best hiring practices has become even more crucial. According to research conducted by job search website Adzuna in January 2023, the UK job market saw a surge in hiring activity, with advertised vacancies rising to their highest level since the pandemic began. However, the study also found that some industries were struggling to fill positions, with sectors such as healthcare and hospitality experiencing significant hiring challenges due to a shortage of available workers.

Additionally, a report by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) in December 2022 showed that the UK labour market was experiencing a high level of candidate shortages, particularly in industries such as healthcare, hospitality, and logistics. The report also highlighted that companies were increasingly turning to automation and technology to help fill their open positions, with nearly a third of employers surveyed saying they planned to invest in new technology to aid recruitment in the coming year.

Automation and AI in hiring

Fortunately, recent advancements in automation and artificial intelligence (AI) enable hiring teams to lean into the processes they are already using to optimise hiring for the right talent. Automation and AI-powered applicant tracking systems (ATS) allow recruiters to program application activities to eliminate the need for hands-on human involvement, streamlining workflows to move qualified candidates through the hiring funnel faster.

The hiring process for many hourly workers is typified by a step-by-step process whereby candidates are qualified at each stage before they are put through to the next one. This can be highly inefficient and can mean that by the time a candidate is given the green light to proceed to an interview, they have already found another job. But with AI and automation, recruiters can leverage tools such as chatbots, background checks, and document scanning to easily process candidates as they enter the hiring funnel. This means that the best candidates can quickly and easily be filtered out and put forward for the interview stage.

These AI workflows can be highly customised to meet the needs of the organisation using them, and the preferences of their recruitment teams. Human resources managers have the flexibility to swap stages in and out or alter the order of stages to match their ideal candidate’s preferences. All of this can be informed by feedback from the platform that tracks the performance of the hiring process, helping organisations nail the candidate experience and reduce hiring costs. This capability is the heart of a flexible workflow, and it may take a few iterations to get right, but once mastered, teams can end up with the most efficient process for their industry’s hiring needs.

By implementing best-in-class features and frictionless workflows, organisations can reduce the industry average time-to-hire from 20 days for retail and grocery positions to just 7.5 days, resulting in a reduced cost-per-hire and saving money for businesses. For example, LaundryHeap, a provider of online laundry services in the UK, recently reduced their time to hire by 50 percent whilst also improving their application-to-onboarding ratio by 17 percent. This helped the business expand globally without putting overwhelming strain on their hiring teams.

AI: eliminating friction in hiring

By using automation and AI at the helm of the hiring funnel, eliminating friction in the hiring process becomes much easier. One of the primary ways in which this is achieved is through easily adapting hiring processes to be mobile-first, helping organisations meet candidates on their terms. This is crucial because not everyone has access to a computer or has a properly prepared CV to share, but that does not mean they are not qualified for the job. With a frictionless and mobile-first hiring process, businesses can find the right candidates without discriminating on the basis of the access and resources that those candidates have.

Can AI improve the candidate experience?

The ultimate goal of a streamlined workflow is to offer a superior candidate experience. This is the key to finding great candidates and turning them into great employees. A smooth workflow tailored to hire the right workers should be void of any barriers to getting applicants to their first day of work.

By leveraging modern, labour-oriented Applicant Tracking Systems that use AI and automation, hiring teams can be more successful and support the growth and development of their own teams. Not only will it improve hiring, but it also allows them to develop the role that they play within the organisation, in not just finding the candidates, but also supporting employees across the organisation and fostering a positive organisational culture. This is the future of hiring, the good news is that we do not have to wait for it.