“Alexa snooze my alarm”

“Alexa, play me London Grammar’s latest album”

“Alexa, order dinner”

“Alexa, find me a job”

“Alexa, complete my online application”

“Alexa, complete my online test and get me hired”

Beyond the bounds of possibility? Not at all.

Throughout the realm of recruitment we’re increasingly using technology to produce a faster result, with lower effort and lower cost but with a higher degree of quality. Whether that’s through the application of machine learning assessment algorithms or Robotic Process Automation to efficiently manage our processes, we’re using AI assistants to deliver a better product for us and the candidates. So why shouldn’t the candidate leverage the same type of technology?

It’s been estimated, by the research firm eMarketer, that more than sixty million Americans will use a digital assistant such as Alexa this year...that’s almost a fifth of the population. That’s a lot of assistants and proves they are no longer early adopter, fringe technology. And it means we have a new generation growing up to whom digital assistants are the norm, as normal as smartphones are for the eponymous millennials.

Already it’s in common parlance to say “Google it” for any question to which the answer isn’t immediately known. Within the next few years I suspect it will become common place for people to augment this command with “Ask [insert name of preferred digital assistant]” for any unknown answer, or indeed, for anything. So why shouldn’t this verbal access to all the answers be used as a proper assistant and undertake the administration tasks we don’t wish to burden ourselves with?

Arguably, applying for jobs is tedious and time consuming, despite our best efforts to reduce the inertia in the process and make it more candidate friendly. Famously the human attention span is now less than that of the common goldfish (7.8 seconds apparently), hence the reason for the popularity of the internet shorthand tl;dr.  On this basis the likelihood is that you’ve already stopped reading this article, but it’s certain to stop candidates applying to a role where a degree of effort is required.

So why bother applying yourself when there’s an assistant sitting on your bookcase with time on its hands and, really, is that a problem? Much of the recruitment process is administration; uploading documents, filling out forms, arranging dates and times for interviews etc. There is a rise of AI automation platforms available that will manage much of this from the recruiters point of view, so why not just let the assistants manage it between them? We save money on recruiters and our CPH reduces, the candidate saves time and effort but the result could be the same.

Indeed, the assistants, the ‘bots, may not only start managing the logistics between them but perhaps they could start having a conversation about the candidate and the hiring company:

‘Bot1 “Sam isn’t good in the mornings, (s)he’d like a job where he can start a bit later but (s)he works very hard and will stay late.”

‘Bot2 “We have a flexible working policy but we do expect our employees to be dedicated so that should work nicely”.

Of course, as Facebook found recently, they’ll probably have this conversation in a new ‘bot language and we may have no clue as to the 'bots hiring strategy, but that's a subject for another article.

We know candidates demand and expect some human contact in the recruitment process, people still buy from people, but much of the process could be completely automated even today, right now. It is possible. And using established technology Alexa could already have determined that Sam is a bit fed up with work from their in-home conversations and social feeds, and already scouted the market, found a job, applied and set everything up for Sam’s interview....all before they got out of bed a bit late.

It’s not a case of whether we like this approach to our job applications or not, it’s whether we embrace it, because as sure as eggs is eggs, this will happen. If there's a way of humans finding an easier route to an end goal history has shown they will take it. So, better that we consider how we can leverage this technology now to create a better candidate experience, find better candidates and make better hires.