Artificial Intelligence

Using AI for recruiting amid lack of skilled labour

11 January 2024
SERIES (8): Perfect match may become easier thanks to AI, says Petra von Strombeck, CEO of New Work

Contact with real people remains important to applicants even though a third of interviewees would agree to a written or voice-based interview with an AI chatbot, according to a Xing survey in Switzerland on "AI in the Professional World". Yet, just as many ruled out being interviewed by a chatbot. And the remaining third were quite dismissive of chatting robots, but would deal them, if there was no alternative. And for good reason, says Petra von Strombeck, CEO of New Work SE (formerly Xing SE). "Human contact offers both sides valuable insights through verbal and non-verbal communication. Applicants get a better impression of the company and recruiters get a better idea of whether the person they are talking to will fit into the team. The best possible matchmaking still counts."

Lack of skilled labour intensifies

Yet, finding the perfect match is becoming increasingly difficult. In Germany, 43.1 per cent of companies lack qualified professionals. "Despite the weakening economy, many companies are still desperately looking for suitable employees," said Stefan Sauer, a representative of the Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the presentation of the Business Survey in August. The situation is being exacerbated by demographic change, said von Strombeck. "By 2035, we will lose around 1,000 employees every single working day." Efficient recruiting is becoming increasingly important and so is AI. Yet, the use of AI as such is nothing new, she said, adding: "Matching recommendations on job portals such as Xing have long been based on AI models. And these models are constantly being improved and further developed."

Petra von Strombeck, CEO of New Work SE

Chatbot frees up time for individual questions

Moreover, AI will definitely not replace the personal job interview, von Strombeck stressed. However, a chatbot could certainly be used as a preparatory tool. "A chatbot can take over classic ping-pong questions e.g., about the application procedure, entry opportunities or employer benefits. This leaves more time for individual questions in the actual interview." And AI can help to personalise application processes, she pointed out. During active sourcing, recruiters approach as many potential applicants as possible directly on various channels and try to win them over for vacant job positions. The more individualised the approach, the greater the chances of success. "Backed by AI, a personalised cover letter can be created quickly and can include details about personal competencies, skills and details of the candidate's current job to attract more attention."

Use of AI worthwhile 

Asked about the use of Al to come up with a shortlist of applicants and whether algorithms are more objective than human beings, von Strombeck noted:  "Al is based on data. So the question is, the data bias? Any faults in the data can be counteracted." Apart from that, the algorithms are programmed to balance skills and there is no room for personal preferences," she added. The use of technical innovations hold risks and opportunities, which make their use worthwhile. "I think AI will lead to various disruptions in our society. ChatGPT is already making waves in creative sectors, which were reserved for the human mind hitherto." Despite job fears, the benefits outweigh. "I believe the technological developments will create more jobs than redundancies. And AI will grow production, which is a good prospect in view of fewer employees."

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Sources and further information

Petra von Strombeck has been CEO of New Work SE since May 2020 after an eight-year stint as CEO of Lotto24 AG for eight years and managing a Tchibo subsidiary and the e-commerce division of Tchibo Direct. New Work SE includes the Xing career network, the job platform Honeypot, the employer rating platform Kununu, the recruiting specialists onlyfy by XING and the expat network InterNations. The company has been listed on the stock exchange since 2006 and is headquartered in Hamburg.

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