While some fear new technology may render their jobs redundant, others embrace innovations like Artificial Intelligence. Soon, computerized systems might be taking over the debiting, crediting, preparing the tax returns and even managing the chart of accounts. At least that’s what we hear from time to time in the media or from non-accountants who get frustrated when their accountant asks them dozens of questions when preparing their Form 1040.
Although we think robots are a long way off from taking over finance departments, AI has practical uses when hiring accountants for your team.
What is AI recruitment?
AI recruitment uses machine learning to automate steps in the talent acquisition process – specifically the repetitive, high-volume tasks like the initial review of candidate resumes confirming basic educational or professional qualifications.
AI can also help screen for biases, like non-inclusive language, in job postings. And it can prevent unconscious biases that can occur in a human-led screening process. You might mindlessly favor applicants who graduated from your alma mater or worked at the same Big 4 firm you did.
How is AI used in recruiting accountants?
Recruiting team members can be time-consuming, expensive, and exhausting. Seeing dozens of resumes, cover letters, and emails flood your inbox each day can be intimidating.
Using AI wisely can help you prepare for hiring and sift through applicants quickly.
Using recruiting software, you can let technology do the heavy lifting of scanning and screening resumes.
Let’s assume you’re looking for an accountant with ASC 606 or IFRS 15 experience to join your team. You could create a filter that looks for those terms in an applicant’s resume or cover letter. When the software finds one of the terms, it moves the individual to the short-list for you to review personally.
Any candidates that don’t have ASC 606 or IFRS 15 in their application information don’t make it past the initial screening and won’t require your review.
What may have started as a pool of 50 applicants could quickly be whittled down to 5 to 10.
We’ve all been on the receiving end of the generic email:
“Thanks for applying for the accountant position at ABC Company. But at this time, you haven’t been selected to move forward in the recruiting process. All the best….”
Those standard emails likely came from an AI recruitment software when your resume didn’t make it past one of the initial screening criteria.
Using AI in your recruitment process enables you to automate communication for things like:
- Initial screening rejections
- Skills or personality assessments
- Initial telephone interviews
These automated emails will save you time writing to each candidate to update them on where they are in the process.
The onboarding process can begin using AI before the employee’s first day of work. Chatbots can answer questions, and onboarding can be a self-service process that new hires can complete at their own pace, even if that’s not during the typical 9-5 work day.
Getting this necessary but repetitive task finished beforehand means the new team member can settle into their work sooner.
Benefits of AI in recruiting accountants
We’ve already discussed how AI can help save you time with initial applicant screening and automated communication. It can also help with:
- Reducing bias and diversifying your talent pool by summarizing demographic data
- Reducing the costs of hiring by using less human capital in the recruitment process
- Using predictive analysis to help determine the success of a candidate in the role
But AI isn’t all unicorns and rainbows. You can’t click a few buttons, and voila, your recruitment and hiring are complete. There are also some downsides to using AI to hire accountants, including:
- AI isn’t flawless. Although machine learning is evolving, it’s not fool-proof
- Over reliance on keyword searching can exclude otherwise quality candidates
- Lack of human touch can appear impersonal to candidates
Future of AI in Recruitment
AI technologies are far from being devoid of human oversight. Self-driving cars crash. Automated bookkeeping misclassifies transactions. GPS sometimes sends you on a wild goose chase. Roombas get stuck under the sofa.
But the fact of the matter is that recruiting accountants is getting harder and harder, and relying on the tried and tested methods of attracting and retaining the best and brightest likely won’t be enough in the future.
As the AICPA’s most recent report on the trends in accounting education reveals, in the 2019-2020 academic year, there was a 2.8% decrease in graduates with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an 8.4% decrease in graduates from master’s degree programs compared with the 2016-2017 academic year.
A shortage of graduates means more competition for talent. While AI can streamline the recruitment process, don’t overlook the human aspect. You’ll want all new hires to feel like they are part of a team. That means connecting with them at the human level.
Mike Whitmire is Co-founder and CEO of FloQast, an accounting close management software company headquartered in Los Angeles. The company works closely with a range of organizations of varying scope and size, helping them to close their books more quickly, efficiently, and accurately.