Imagine this: You arrive at your office on a typical Monday morning, knowing that you have a massive amount of estimating and quoting to get done. You think to yourself, ‘WOW remember how we used to do it!’ You’d get your first of many coffees and spend the whole day punching out window schedules and quotes. But not today; that’s all a thing of the past! You sit at your desk and say, ‘Hey Siri, I have just sent you a set of plans with a window schedule. Can you do a take-off and check the window schedule against the plans and highlight any anomalies? Then I want you to prepare a quotation using our 100 mm framing system in charcoal powdercoat.’ Siri says, ‘No worries, David. What type of glass do you want me to quote?’ You answer, ‘Clear glass to meet the standards for a category 2 terrain.’ Siri says, ‘David, I am working on it and I will email the quote to you for your approval when I am finished.’

How good would that be and how many headaches would Siri remove for all of us (me included) who are forever looking for highly skilled estimators, or any staff for that matter, that are tech savvy and can get the work done. Is artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) or Big Data really the future to finding the right people? Let’s explore.

Our Challenge

One of the biggest challenges we face in a labour-intensive business, such as window and door manufacturing, is finding, securing and then retaining talent in all areas of our business. While it’s true that the age of the Internet has made a wealth of information available to us on the background of potential candidates, knowing where to look and then wading through all that data can take considerable time and financial investment. It’s enough to make you miss the good old days when referrals were the only way to find employees. (In fact, referrals are still a very important factor in recruiting.) Even with all this ‘data’ available at our fingertips, how many of you are still keenly looking for tech savvy staff to join your business? Well guess what, the right talent, experience and/or attitude is still elusive and super hard to find for the best of us.

In the Now

Currently, we turn to Seek, LinkedIn, G+, Facebook and many other social media and online sites boasting to be brimming with the right people ‘just waiting to be snapped up’. Then, if you do find one, how do you approach them and start a conversation to understand if they really are the right person? In most online situations, candidates do not put their personal details such as email or mobile numbers online because they do not want every Tom, Dick or David chasing them. So how do you engage them? One thing I have learnt is that you can’t just ‘data mine’ your way to the right candidate; you need the right tools to analyse them, and the right people who can provide meaningful insight into the information you require. You must learn to entice them to come to you through a strong online corporate or business profile that is designed to attract the appropriately experienced people to your business. Sounds easy, doesn’t it! Not quite.

Let’s talk about AI for a moment. Think about the screening process and how software these days is doing most of the work in the larger firm, but it is all still very ‘black and white’ – using the approach of algorithms means that at present, human intervention is still very much a necessity. I think that human intervention will always play a significant part in recruitment because people interact and get a sense or feel for others. But, I’d also expect to see recruitment screening software that is increasingly ‘human’ in the way it analyses and reviews job applications and then presents us all with a more holistic view of a candidate’s skills and experience.

Where to from here?

There are already many technology solution providers that have started to bring AI and ML into the recruitment world. It’s not hard to imagine that in the future, artificial intelligence tools will simply collect all the information we need from all the data that is now available about candidates online and then proceed to create strong shortlist of candidates. Then, I expect that same technology will allow us to put candidates into real life scenarios where they must demonstrate their ability to analyse and manage situations in a manner that fits with the position and company. Of course, they will be interviewed using AI algorithms to determine the perfect match to our criteria or position specification. And of course, no more fooling us with mates as referees. They will be screened with as much vigour as the candidates because we will have the technology. But, that’s just to start.

Who knows where this new technology age will take us, but the capacity of AI, ML and Big Data just keep advancing. The one thing I do know is that we live in a very different world and it will be different again for the next generation. Clearly technology is and will continue to play a lead role in all our lives and particularly as we continue the search for the elusive perfect candidate. Or of course, you can just grab another coffee, chat with Siri and let AI do all the grunt work around the business. Not a bad position to be in I think!


About David Esler

David Esler is the Director of Kaizen Executive. With over 25 years experience at a senior management level, David delivers high quality recruitment solutions that are tailored to meet the needs of individuals and corporations alike. David also provides management consulting services in sales force effectiveness, sales excellence training, performance management and customer and market strategies.





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