The increasing role of artificial intelligence in SME recruitment and retention practices


Digital technology is driving change in the Australian workforce like never before. And while it’s creating more efficient and effective work environments, it also brings with it some unique challenges. Professions and career models have begun to morph, talent gaps are widening, and finding and retaining good-fit candidates has become more complex for businesses of all sizes.

As advances in artificial intelligence (AI), mobility, and automation continue to transform workplaces and the nature of work itself, talent acquisition and retention in this unchartered territory will become even more critical for SMEs to both compete and grow.

Fortunately, many of these technologies, particularly AI, are also sophisticating the way we source and secure talent. Although still in its infancy, AI can already match jobseekers with jobs, and in the not too distant future it will be able to help business owners with retaining employees and developing their careers.

AI in hiring and retention

Job descriptions and resumes

Traditional job descriptions and resumes are fast becoming redundant. They are typically littered with human bias and ambiguity, and only provide a one-dimensional representation of a candidate.

When it comes to enhancing the effectiveness of these communications, the future is bright thanks to AI developments like Natural Language Processing (NLP) and its ability to improve job description categorisation. By finding and extracting critical criteria in postings and feeding it to higher level AI algorithms, we can now identify relevant jobs for jobseekers and encourage them to apply for a position when the algorithm’s scoring shows their qualifications are a good fit to a role.

Soon, job descriptions and resumes will be enhanced with time-saving features and will become more personalised. To attract the candidate’s attention, job descriptions will be able to highlight the elements of a job that are most relevant and interesting to a candidate based on personal preferences.

Conversational ‘agents’, either bots or automated systems that use human and machine input, will enable candidates and employers to interact with one another earlier in the piece so they can understand each other’s needs from the outset. Chat buttons attached to a job description will immediately allow a candidate and business owner to ask each other questions. Conversational systems such as these are already starting to show results in many fields and will soon be commonplace.

Evaluating candidates 

SME business owners who often handle the entire hiring process themselves, know that it is complex and time-consuming to evaluate hundreds of applications fairly and efficiently.

Those recruiting are typically limited to what’s stated on a candidate’s resume as indicators of their suitability to the role and company – namely details of their education, past employers and work history.

While there is of course merit in knowing someone has relevant experience, the best way to establish job competency is the ability to translate experience into real life scenarios. Business owners can then assess whether a candidate can perform the responsibilities of a position in a simulated work evaluation.

For example:

  • A marketer responds to a client brief and gets graded on their ability to employ marketing strategies to demonstrate and promote the product/service to key target audiences.
  • A business development executive develops a sales pitch and is evaluated on their sales techniques.

These scenarios are not untypical in today’s interview processes, however, they rely heavily on resources and are dependent on the interviewer’s skills. AI will bring with it the ability to augment resumes by automating these types of assessments and provide those hiring with an unbiased rating of candidates’ qualifications.

Career development 

Today’s workers are likely to switch jobs several times over the course of their career, which is why AI’s role doesn’t end when a jobseeker accepts a job.

Studies show millennials switch jobs more frequently than older generations and when it comes to good employees, business owners would obviously prefer those moves to occur within their company. AI will soon be in a position to help employers map out an individual’s career path to ensure employees stay with the company. When equipped with knowledge of people’s skill sets, performance, and desires, AI will help employers know what to do to keep employees growing within the organisation.

Job matching

Matching technology is continuing to evolve at a rapid pace — becoming more personalised, seamless and automated. Thanks to  advancing technologies, it is not unrealistic to expect that in the future there will be enough data for people to be able to simply press a button and receive a job offer.

However, while AI technology can make the process much more efficient, accepting a job will still require the decision of the jobseeker. A decision that is influenced by relationships, goals, and an individual’s definition of meaningful work.

Ultimately AI technology will give SME business owners and jobseekers more time to focus on the human connections that build trust and inspire career development. In this way, AI is rapidly transforming the way we identify and hire talent and is destined to influence the recruitment decisions of all SMEs in Australia.


About the author

Raj Mukherjee, Senior Vice President of Product at Indeed, is responsible for driving global product vision and strategy in collaboration with the Senior Leadership Team. Previously, he was Senior Vice President of Product at GoDaddy and responsible for helping their 14 million customers build successful businesses online. He has significant experience with SMB customers and led multiple successful acquisitions for the company.