The future of recruitment

None of us know what recruitment technology will look like in 2025 but using my 15+ years of working with recruitment technology vendors and never ending market research, making short term predictions (3 years) is a lot easier than long term (8 years). Only time will tell how accurate I am.

Although predicting how technology will evolve is not guaranteed to be correct, when you review vendors it is still important to understand what they think as this will direct their product roadmap. In turn, you can then decide if you feel their views on the future are inline with yours and more importantly, if you think their ideas will help you succeed.

Recruitment 2020

2020 sounds quite futuristic but it’s only 2-years away and as it’s such a short time span, the changes will be fairly easy to predict.

The recruitment operating system

Two aspects to consider are:

  • System of record (holds the data).
  • System of engagement (where users complete their actions).

With the API as a core component of any modern ATS (system of record), the system of engagement can vary across different modules and/or third party integrated products so a recruiter can use one system e.g. the ATS (recruiter system of engagement) whereas the Line Manager may use another for reviewing a shortlist e.g. third party video interview system.

If you consider the Apps on your phone as a further example. Your phone has an operating system that you never think about although you may have to go into the settings menu to set-up some ‘operational’ aspects of your phone. But to send a message, you open an App. To check the weather you open an App. To get directions you open an App. And if you want new functionality, you download a new App.

But that’s a lot of Apps hence mobile user interface (UI) designers are looking at how they integrate Apps within Apps to give a better user experience (UX). For example, if you go into Google Maps and look for a location, Google will show you walking, driving, public transport and now Uber options. If you choose Uber it opens the Uber App with the destination details and you continue from there. No having to copy your destination, then go into the Uber App etc.

Over the next 3 years the ATS will start to work more like a mobile phone with a choice of functional and optional Apps that recruiters can swap and change as they want.

Mobile and apps

We already live in a mobile centric, consumer focused environment with many technology vendors introducing new user interfaces that are designed to work on a mobile device. This will continue to evolve over the next 3-years whereby a recruiter will be able to conduct 80% of their work on their mobile.

Machine learning (automation)

The ATS will become more automated and start to anticipate some of the basic activities that need to happen as part of your workflow, will nudge you to get things done, and then learn for next time. This is machine learning rather than artificial intelligence.

Predictive analytics

Analytics will be the domain of specialist vendors who will have access to vast amounts of data to be able to predict results based on defined criteria. Some of these will be acquired by ATS vendors and embedded into their products, others will remain independent so will be integrated with various ATSs to deliver the same results (or maybe better).

For example, there is an assessment product that only uses Facebook data, and can provide a psychometric profile in a matter of seconds based on 30 of your Likes. And it works!

Artificial intelligence

In 2017, most claims of AI in HR Tech are somewhat optimistic but by 2020 we will see significant advances. As an example, candidate conversations prior to face-to-face interview will be managed by a Bot that will be able to manage the entire process from enquiry to shortlist and, provide a better and more consistent candidate experience.

By automating the front end of the hiring process, recruiters will be able to focus more time on adding value during the human interaction stages of interview and beyond.

"By automating the front end of the hiring process, recruiters will be able to focus more time on adding value.

Recruitment 2025

We have spent the last 100 years learning how to drive, we will spend the next 10 learning how to undrive as the machine takes over our daily commute. In the same way, we are being taught how to use voice, how to pinch and squeeze data, and how to get ready for the workplace of 2025.

Machine learning

I expect 80% of the hiring process to be fully automated with the use of machine learning becoming a core element of every ATS. As the ATS learns, recruiters will trust it to do more of the repetitive parts of their job so they can focus on where humans add most value.

The setup of an ATS will be self-configuring and improve on a continual self-learning cycle. As the machine learns, it will make decisions to reconfigure the system without the need for human interference as it will make decisions based on data and evidence rather than human, subjective opinions.

In turn, applying for and securing a new job, will be as efficient as buying a pair of shoes on Amazon and the first human interaction will be post offer; albeit subject to final human screening.

Artificial intelligence

By 2025 AI will have progressed significantly although I do not believe it will have reached the status of ‘general AI’ so will therefore remain non-sentient (cannot perceive or feel things) and narrow in focus/capability. That said, it will still be able to ‘appear human’ within a narrow set of activities.

For example, using a voice command (as per Alexa or Siri) to find information, the ATS will not only be able to interpret any vagueness in your command, but also make decisions in order to provide a better result. The downside of this is that potentially we de-skill the job of the recruiter in the same way that satellite navigation has de-skilled the role of the taxi driver. This could result in a Line Manager brief being taken straight into the ATS that then provides a shortlist without any need for a recruiter. This may sound unlikely but Uber have done exactly this with customers booking a taxi direct with the driver, and technology replacing people in an office handling calls and allocating fares to drivers.

Job agents

Both candidates and recruiters will have intelligent, fully automated job agents consuming data, sentiment, conversations and more, and then matching candidates to recruiters. In many cases the matching will be done before a job exists as the agents will be using predictive analysis to prescribe defined hiring actions.


With a VR (virtual reality) ATS, the keyboard will not be required as the recruiter will use gestures to swipe screens, pinch and squeeze data and open new Apps. The desk space required for this kind of interaction will be far smaller and more mobile, which will see recruiters placing themselves at the heart of the business and working a lot closer with their operational customers.


With the advancement of voice recognition in consumer devices, business systems will have also evolved in the same direction. The recruiters headset will also be part AR (augmented reality) and part HUD (head up display). The keyboard will continue to gather dust as the most efficient communication method will be voice (and gestures).

The recruiter

So where does this leave the recruiter? As AI will not be sentient or have reached/surpassed human intelligence (general AI), the machine will still be relatively simple, working on quite simple but monotonous activities, albeit more efficiently and quickly than a human.

Recruiters will need be the experts in:

  • Telling their employer brand story ‘human to human’.
  • Using data to make human intelligence people decisions.
  • Maximising the ATS capabilities and AI to source, attract and hire the right people at the right time.

In essence, not much different from today just with more advanced technology and fewer colleagues.