In Recruiting, AI Gets Real for Telecom


By Joe Dysart

While the wonders of artificial intelligence are often hyped beyond recognition, AI-powered recruitment software is actually offering real advantages to telecom businesses.

“We have successfully optimized our recruitment advertising for both source effectiveness and cost control through deployment of AI tools, and will continue to expand AI further into our recruitment processes as the technology matures,” says Kathy Flynn, VP of talent acquisition at CenturyLink.

CenturyLink's Kathy Flynn

CenturyLink’s Kathy Flynn

“There is an extraordinary opportunity for AI-driven software to completely transform recruitment processes,” Flynn adds. “Particularly in accelerating the candidate funnel, enhancing the candidate experience, identifying qualified candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences and reducing recruiters’ administrative tasks.”

VMware is another early adopter.

“We have proactively engaged in this space for roughly four years, thanks to the formation of our recruiting automation and delivery team,” says Brendan Rogers, program manager for recruiting automation and delivery at VMware. “We have developed our own machine learning algorithms to increase efficiencies of internal processes within Talent Acquisition.”

In terms of specific applications, recruiters are using AI to automatically crawl the Web for the kind of job candidates they want, auto-interview them via text chat or video on-the-spot and then auto-schedule the most promising candidates for follow-up interviews by the person who does the hiring.

Other apps automatically riffle through resumes submitted at a company Web site for candidates with the exact qualifications the company wants.

And still others design neuroscience games that job candidates can play, which glean the people who best exhibit the traits, skills and characteristics you’re looking for.

Genesys' Daniel Phelps

Genesys’ Daniel Phelps

Even so, despite a real optimism among some telecom firms for the kind of future AI recruiting solutions will bring to the industry, other telecom firms are lukewarm about the tech. “There is no silver bullet to evaluating and selecting candidates.” says Daniel Phelps, VP of global talent acquisition at Genesys. “I fear too many managers are looking for an easy way out by adopting AI. Perhaps one day we will get there — though I do not think it is wise to take the hands-on human element away any time soon.”

Adds Tom Phelps, president of HPA Consulting Group: “It started out as companies scanning resumes for certain key words. Now the algorithms are getting more sophisticated. We are OK with using some of these tools when the number of resumes is significant to get them down to a manageable amount.”

But Phelps adds he’s concerned that some candidates familiar with the way AI systems work may figure out how to game the solutions. “The risk is always there that someone is designing a system that (unfairly) gets your resume to the top of the list.”

For those who’ve decided to embrace AI recruiting, the technology has arrived at an opportune time. Unemployment is at an historic low — 4 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (PDF), generally making employment a job seeker’s market.

No wonder, then, that on balance, the tech has become wildly popular. According to a 2018 survey by business consulting firm Korn Ferry, 63 percent of HR pros say AI has already changed the way they recruit. And 69 percent say that AI has helped them …

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