Future Proofing Your Recruiting Career or Business

The article explores the evolving dynamics in the recruitment industry due to advancements in AI technology, emphasising how human recruiters can maintain their relevance by focusing on trust, complex problem-solving, and emotional intelligence amidst growing tech capabilities and competitive landscapes.

Future Proofing Your Recruiting Career or Business

I’m sure you’ve all seen the latest drop of functionality from OpenAI.

It actually sparked a kernel of fear in me about the future for knowledge workers.

Here is a link to a quick round up of the OpenAI announcement, and you should watch this from Google before reading on.

I’m sure that fear has set up shop in a few people’s minds already, but for me, there are still barriers to using AI effectively which have rendered it only partially useful.

It’s clear from a mile off, those that lack prompting skills and churn out clearly AI derived content on social media, blogs, and CVs.

Moving forwards, that won’t be the case.

So, with that in mind, where does that leave recruiters?

The Plight of Jobseekers

The public will have ubiquitous access to (almost) the same tech as massive businesses.

We’re already seeing the proliferation of mass job application tools, which is shifting the power balance away from traditional recruiting channels like job boards and recruitment consultancies.

Consider Teal, which helps users to manage and boost job applications.

It was built by a non-technical founder in 2019 using Bubble, a nocode tool. It raised $6.3m in first round seed funding on that basis.

With 65,000 users their company valuation could be as high as $10-15m.

Now, they are a no-code unicorn with some proprietary (coded) tech involved, but I hope it highlights the potential for disruption and the low barriers to entry in the careers space.

This is all great for jobseekers, right?

Maybe. I think there are short-term gains, but eventually, they are still lost in a sea of noise.

They’ll be able to apply with greater volume, leveraging these tools, but when everyone has the same access, there is no advantage.

They will crave human connection, advice, and insight.

What About Employers?

So employers also have access to the same tech as candidates and recruiters.

They can reach candidates at the same scale, and with equivalent attraction and assessment tools.

In fact, talent acquisition tech is typically superior to recruitment tech because large corporates will spend more than recruiters and the system requirements are narrower (i.e. they don’t need to provide sales CRM functionality).

So, recruiters won’t win through playing a volume or speed game, assuming effective talent acquisition is in place.

We’re seeing this play out in the level of redundancies within talent acquisition. Internal teams are doing more with less headcount.

Where Recruiters will continue to add value

Trust Building

I trust AI more than most humans. I think it’s more consistent, plays less status games and has clear motivations.

That’s probably because I’ve worked and built with AI as a solopreneur, and have had human teams in the past.

I don’t think people in general feel the same.

An AI or robot will never be trusted more than a human when people are being judged.

Candidates (and clients) want a repetition of personal interaction.

They want shared experiences and genuine connection.

They want to see and hear from a real person, with original input and ideas, even if they are imperfect compared to AI.

Trust building is paramount.

Complex Scenarios

This is a mixed bag, as I’ve used AI as a sparring partner for a while now. It helps me to navigate complex business problems with efficiency.

Still, I think there is an angle for consultants to stay ahead.

Imagine a scenario where a company is undergoing a major restructuring and needs to fill multiple leadership positions.

This involves not just identifying the right individuals but could also involve navigating corporate politics, managing sensitivities about internal candidates, and/or ensuring alignment with the company culture post-restructuring.

A human consultant can provide insights derived from a profound understanding of the human elements at play, offer mediation, and manage the relationship dynamics that AI might not fully grasp.

They can also do this in the moment.

High-stakes negotiation is another area, especially for executive roles, which often involves nuanced understanding, concession-making, and improvisation that goes beyond algorithmic decision-making.

Emotional Intelligence

Linked to the above, humans may do better at reading body language, understanding subtleties in tone and navigating complex social dynamics.

I think this is a diminishing area, though. For example, if things progress into neural or corneal implants, then folks will have an AI layer over interactions to assist with EQ-based decision-making.

We’re probably closer than we think to this kind of evolution.


Similar to the above, I think consultants have the edge now based on a particular AI’s access to data.

When candidates begin to relinquish access to data about them (they most likely already have) then I think an AI will be able to provide more personalisation than a consultant purely down to the volume of information it can ingest.

Take CV Library as an example. They are closing in on having 20 million CVs. What happens when they train an LLM on that data AND job market intelligence?

A candidate gets truly personal career advice based on a massive data set, over and above what a typical consultant right now can offer.

Bias and Ethical Judgements

This is a hot topic right now.

AI is biased and people are very conscious of being discriminated against.

In reality, they already are discriminated against by recruiters, whether recruiters admit this or not.

It’s an unknown for me what has less bias, and I think this is a battleground for a long time to come.

If a consultant has correctly aligned values, then perhaps this is a benefit they can offer. It is shaky though as they need to have bias to fulfil a search mandate; they are paid to be biased.

Creativity and Opportunity Gap Analysis

I think this is fascinating and difficult to define.

A consultant has control over a unique and high volume of set inputs day to day.

Humans are constantly assimilating trillions of data points.

An AI does the same thing but on a more defined data set.

I think that there is tangible value in the fact that consultants can introduce creative and innovative strategies based on their experiences, insights, and intuition.

For example, a consultant might identify an emerging trend through a combination of professional intuition, spontaneous conversations at industry events, and hands-on experiences. This moves beyond data and established patterns.

As long as they are capable of doing so; it’s a key area to develop.

Upgrading Consultants

The current recruitment workforce will need to change.

Transactional/commoditised recruitment functions (and staffing) will vanish as a service.

It will be replaced by software, look at Goodspace as an example. There is a race to the bottom in transactional business, and first mover advantage within niches is key.

Consultants will need to level up in their consultative abilities.

To achieve this, they will need training and development. This takes time, which can be created by removing low-value tasks and creating new support roles within teams like data management and marketing.

What Consultants should start doing today

These are the things that I think recruitment consultants have to focus on now in order to future-proof their place in the world of recruitment. Business owners should take note as well and maybe reference my article on running lean too.

1. Building and Nurturing Relationships

  - Develop and maintain deep, personal relationships with both clients and candidates.
  - Focus on long-term connections, becoming a trusted advisor who understands the nuances of both parties' needs and aspirations.

2. Strategic and Consultative Advisory

  - Offer strategic guidance and insights on market trends, organisational culture, and long-term workforce planning.
  - Help clients with employer branding, retention strategies, and building a talent pipeline.

3. Complex Problem-Solving and Negotiation

  - Handle complex recruitment scenarios, like executive searches or crisis hiring, where nuanced understanding and discretion are paramount.
  - Advise on, mediate, and negotiate high-stakes roles that involve multiple stakeholders and delicate dynamics.

4. Personalised Coaching and Support

  - Provide one-on-one coaching for candidates, helping them refine applications, prepare for interviews, and navigate offers.
  - Offer personalised feedback and career development advice that goes beyond cookie-cutter tips.

5. Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

  - Actively promote and implement inclusive hiring practices.
  - Educate clients on the importance of diversity, manage biases in the hiring process, and help design more inclusive environments.

What Consultants need to hand off immediately

The following would do better being handed off to tech or AI.

1. Routine Resume Screening

  - Let AI take over the initial sift through applications to identify candidates meeting basic qualifications.
  - Save human effort for deeper evaluation and relationship-building.

2. Scheduling and Coordination

  - Use AI tools to handle the logistics of scheduling interviews, coordinating meetings, and managing calendars.
  - Automate repetitive administrative tasks, so time is focused on high-impact activities.

3. Initial Screening Interviews

  - Delegate initial conversation and screening interviews to AI chatbots.
  - Concentrate human effort on second-level, in-depth interviews where more nuanced judgement is necessary.

4. Data Entry and Management

  - Utilise AI for maintaining databases, updating candidate profiles, and managing recruitment records.
  - Human consultants should use this data to derive insights and strategies, not manage it manually.

5. Standardised Reporting and Analytics

  - Automate the generation of standard reports and basic analytics.
  - Consultants should interpret these reports and offer strategic insights, rather than prepare them.

The Current Market

Most recruitment markets are flat at the moment.

There is a shift towards more business development activities being required. It’s certainly an area I’ve been supporting clients with recently.

So, on the sales and marketing front, here’s a quick overview of what to be doing and what to drop.

Top 5 Value-Adding Activities in Business Development and Marketing

1. Client Relationship Management

  - Build and maintain strong, lasting relationships with clients through personalised interactions.
  - Regularly check in with clients to understand their evolving needs and provide tailored solutions.

2. Strategic Networking

  - Attend industry events, conferences, and networking meet-ups to establish new connections and stay informed about market trends.
  - Leverage personal networks to find business opportunities and foster partnerships.

3. Content Creation with Thought Leadership

  - Develop original content such as blog posts, articles, white papers, and webinars to establish credibility and expertise in your niche market.
  - Share insights and experiences that highlight your unique value proposition and attract potential clients.

4. Customised Business Proposals

  - Craft personalised business development proposals that address the specific needs and pain points of prospective clients.
  - Offer tailored recruitment strategies and demonstrate how you can add unique value over AI-driven platforms.

5. Brand Storytelling and Authentic Engagement

  - Use compelling storytelling to convey your brand's mission, values, and success stories.
  - Engage authentically on social media and other online platforms, responding to comments, messages, and discussions in a human and relatable manner.

Top 5 Time-Wasting Activities (Better Delegated to AI or Streamlined)

1. Routine Cold Outreach

  - Automate initial outreach emails and follow-ups using AI tools to manage and personalise at scale.
  - Focus human efforts on high-value interactions and personalised follow-ups once interest is demonstrated.

2. Basic Data Collection and Lead Generation

  - Use AI tools and CRM software to gather and manage lead information.
  - Spend more time analysing data and identifying high-potential opportunities rather than collecting it manually.

3. Generic Content Production

  - Automate the creation of routine marketing content, such as social media posts and basic newsletters, using AI content generators.
  - Focus on developing high-quality, strategic content that requires human insight and creativity.

4. Handling Standard Inquiries

  - Employ AI chatbots and automated response systems to handle basic inquiries and frequently asked questions.
  - Free up time for meaningful interactions that require human touch and problem-solving.

5. Administrative and Repetitive Tasks

  - Automate scheduling, follow-ups, data entry, and other administrative tasks through AI and productivity tools.
  - Ensure human efforts are concentrated on strategic planning, relationship building, and creative marketing initiatives.


While AI can handle many technical and data-driven tasks extremely well, human consultants add significant value through their ability to manage complex interpersonal dynamics, ethical considerations, and provide emotionally intelligent support.

For now, recruitment business owners should be focused on how AI can support their processes and consultants.

They should be leveraging AI for its efficiency and data-handling capacity while relying on human consultants for their relational skills, complex problem-solving, and ethical judgement can create a more holistic and effective recruitment process.

I wouldn’t be relying on AI that typical recruitment tech stacks offer, either. The large tech providers will be slow to adopt, so your team will always be behind the curve.

The winners will be those that pivot quickly to leverage best in class AI for things like audience (attention) building and driving operational efficiencies.

Markets will be won by first movers and the value of recruitment business brands will diminish with personal branding becoming ever more important.

Lead consultants need to be in the shop window, solving complex problems and being human by offering nuanced, empathetic and contextually rich insights to their network.

It’s all about trust and reputation.

Struggling with implementation, email me at hello@alexlockey.com

Blog image by Nik on Unsplash

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