Last week I was at a conference of independent recruiters from around the world. It was a small meeting hosted by NPAworldwide in Larnaca, Cyprus but the attendees were from multiple countries including the US, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Russia, the UK, Israel, Austria and the Philippines. The speaker was well-known industry influencer and forward thinker Ian Knowlson. He can be found at Selling Success or the specific site NPAworldwide Cyprus.
The speaker asked us to imagine the future of our businesses based on the speed of change and the impact of technology on recruitment. He made it clear that the role of a generalist recruiter will come under increasing pressure in the years ahead. Recruitment is being pushed toward the one extreme of Managed Service Provider or the other extreme of a micro niche recruitment specialist. The middle ground of generalist recruitment will be gradually reduced in frequency of need and sustainability. This trend will continue in the eyes of our speaker and was supported by the attendees’ comments and experiences.
We were then challenged to consider the impact on jobs by technology, AI, robots and systems. While AI, robots and chatbots may never fully replace recruiters, they can certainly impact specific niches or specialties. Mr. Knowlson pointed out that those jobs that require minimal education or critical thinking will be the first to go. For example, much accounting and finance work is being systemized and addressed by AI. The speed of this trend will only continue. If your recruitment niche is built on providing entry-level accountants and bookkeepers to industry, you have little time to start reacting. There are also many unskilled professions that require minimal education that will be very difficult to replace with robots. In manufacturing environments like factories, it is easier to automate. In field locations like construction sites, it is nearly impossible to automate what labor does.
Knowlson used the great entrepreneur Elon Musk and his comments to get all of us thinking about the future. For example, Musk believes that in his lifetime there will be a city of one million people living on Mars, or that by 2030 the first child to live to 1000 will be born. These are alarming and thought-creating concepts. Difficult to process for most. I ask you to consider is your recruitment niche safe? Are you looking at how vulnerable your specialty might be? Do you have plans to future-proof your agency?