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5 Recruiting Skills That AI Can’t Replace

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk around AI and recruiting—will it take over recruiters jobs? Will the way we recruit and hire completely change?

But, while AI will certainly play a big role in the future of recruiting, only 14% of talent acquisition professionals are concerned that AI will take away their jobs, according to our survey.

That’s because the core of the recruiting profession—the parts of the job that require personal and emotional engagement—can’t be replaced by AI. Instead, AI will automate more menial, structured tasks (like data collection) and free up recruiters to focus on building their skill sets that require a human touch.

These are the top recruiting skills AI is least likely to replace

  1. Building relationships with candidates
  2. Seeing candidate potential beyond credentials
  3. Judging “culture add” or “culture fit”
  4. Gauging candidate interpersonal skills
  5. Convincing candidates to accept offers

By nurturing and growing these skills, you can be sure to stand out as a recruiter and add value to the hiring process that AI can amplify, but not replace. Here’s a look at each recruiting skill:

1. Building relationships with candidates

Unsurprisingly, the most AI-proof skill is the one that relies most on the human touch—building strong relationships with candidates. It’s these relationships that leave a lasting impression on candidates—one that can make all the difference when they’re choosing between multiple offers or deciding whether to leave their current role.

You can build a strong relationship with candidates through personalized outreachthat’s tailored to their interests, being open about yourself and your career, and being transparent about the interview process and the role (the good and the bad). Helping to prep them for interviews also goes a long way and leaves a lasting impression.

2. Seeing candidate potential beyond credentials

It takes a talented recruiter to spot the true potential of a candidate, especially one who has minimal experience or is switching careers altogether. You can develop this skill by defining the traits and soft skills that have made previous employees successful in the role, and screening for them in your hiring process. While AI can enhance your potential-spotting skills, it can’t replace them.

3. Judging “culture add” or “culture fit”

Figuring out whether a candidate will fit in with your culture, or more importantly be a culture add, is a skill that requires human interaction. Pre-screening AI tools can come in handy here as well, but what will really help you make this decision is meeting with the candidate and, even better, bringing them in for a job audition. By letting them work alongside their prospective coworkers for a day, you get a firsthand glimpse of what they’ll bring to the culture (and how good they’ll be at the job).

You can also help candidates who won’t like your culture self select out by making your company values and culture show in job descriptions and on your website.

4. Gauging candidates’ interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills impact how well an employee can communicate with their managers, work with other teams, and respond to customers’ needs. The best way to assess interpersonal skills is the simplest, and something recruiters are very good at: chatting with  candidates.

You can tailor your interview questions to uncover interpersonal skills by asking things like “describe a conflict you’ve had with your manager, and how you dealt with it,” or by posing a specific problem they might encounter on the job and asking how they’d solve it.

5. Convincing candidates to accept offers

Accepting a job offer is a huge decision, and it requires a personal approach. When you’ve spent the time getting to know your candidate, you can focus on the things that matter most to them (beyond salary) when making the offer. If they’re really excited about career growth, for example, you know to discuss their career trajectory at your company, showing them what their next five years might look like. Recruiters can also discuss any concerns and anticipate why a candidate might reject an offer.

The human touch is only going to become more important as AI streamlines the hiring process and handles the menial tasks for you. Mastering these five skills will ensure that your candidates always have welcoming and engaging interactions with you and your company, even if they encounter AI along the way. Their experience will be better, and your job will be secure for years to come.

For more insights about how AI will impact the future of recruiting, download the complete Global Recruiting Trends 2018 report today.

Credit: Samantha McLaren

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Employees Share What Gives Them a Sense of Belonging at Work

Studies show that feeling a sense of belonging in the workplace leads to more than just good vibes and friendships. Belonging is what allows employees to feel like they can be their authentic selves without fear of different treatment or punishment—and it has a major impact on performance and retention.

Diversity and inclusion still matter, but they won’t cut it if you don’t consider belonging as part of the equation. Belonging is the crucial piece of the puzzle, leading to psychological safety and employee engagement. Supportive environments even trigger different responses in the brain, leading to better collaboration and problem solving.

But, you might not know how to actually create a culture of belonging. Though more and more companies are accepting the importance of fostering a sense of “belonging,” it’s still a relatively new and developing concept. For those wondering how to create a culture of belonging, LinkedIn’s Inside the Mind of Today’s Candidate report reveals some concrete insights on what employees say they need to feel like they belong.

Here, we’ll walk you through the main factors that make employees feel like they belong and four key things you can do to help foster a sense of belonging.

belonging at work

1. Recognize employees for their unique efforts and accomplishments

Mentioned by a whopping 59% of respondents to our candidate survey, being recognized for accomplishments at work was the largest single contributor to an overall sense of belonging.

Not surprisingly, being recognized for their accomplishments was most important to millennials—coming in at 60%, compared to just 53% of baby boomers. Many a joke has been made about millennials and “participation trophies,” but plenty of studies show that millennials are actually uniquely conditioned to want continuous, regular feedback on their work.

Recognition for accomplishments was also more important to women (62%) than it was for men (57%). Though the reason isn’t clear from the data, it could be because women often feel undervalued at work, especially compared to their male colleagues.

Interestingly, valuing recognition is also correlated with an employee’s company size. It was cited by 63% of employees at enterprise companies (with over 1,000 employees) compared to 59% at small businesses (with fewer than 200 employees), indicating that the average worker might feel more valued in a smaller pond.

Small, simple gestures are an impactful and cost-effective way to make employees feel truly valued, like allowing them to announce big wins, honoring employees’ work anniversaries, and unique award programs that go beyond the standard “Employee of the Month.”

Keep in mind that not all employees are motivated the same way—for example, while some like to be recognized in public, visible ways, others prefer a private message or reward.

That said, all employees want to be recognized not just for showing up, but for offering something unique to the organization. To accomplish this, show them how their individual contributions are irreplaceable to the company.

Leaders should aim to always speak intentionally, challenging employees and emphasizing their unique skills.

“You did a great job designing that website last week,” writes The Muse’s Avery Augustine, as an example conversation. “We have a new client who seems pretty picky, and since your work is so detail-oriented, I think you’re the only one for the job.”

Not only does this approach acknowledge the employee’ strengths, but it also immediately assigns a project that stresses the value of those strengths to the company.

2. Acknowledge and appreciate employee’s contributions in meetings to make them feel valued

50% of survey espondents said they feel a greater sense of belonging at work when their contributions in meetings are valued. Though similar to recognition, valuing contributions is more about employees speaking up during discussions, and less about their job performance. And like recognition, having contributions valued was cited by more women (55%) than men (48%), which could signal that women are less likely to feel “heard” in meetings and discussions.

The survey data doesn’t show a strong correlation with either seniority or age, which points to an interesting truth—feeling valued at work isn’t just about raises or promotions. It’s largely about how leaders treat their subordinates, from trusting their decisions to empathically listening to them in meetings.

Another way to show employees that their contributions are valuable is to simply listen respectfully and attentively. Note that this might look different depending on a team member’s personality: quieter team members prefer someone who “pauses, listens, and creates a space,” while more outspoken employees want room to bring their thoughts “whenever and wherever.”

3. Practice candor and give employees opportunities to share their honest opinions

Feeling free to express one’s opinions at work is another major component of belonging, called out by 51% of respondents.

Though similar to having your contributions valued, being able to express your thoughts and opinions at work is more about fostering an open, honest environment where employees won’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. Employees who know they can speak their mind feel more motivated to contribute unique ideas that go against the grain, and even command more respect from peers.

Perhaps surprisingly, freedom to express opinions was generally considered most important to senior employees—cited by 62% of VPs, compared to 51% of managers. Though there was no correlation with age, it’s possible that millennials have different reasons for emphasizing open expression. Whereas older team members may wish to express needs and frustrations, millennials are significantly more likely to see the sharing of ideas and opinions as necessary for workplace inclusion.

Sometimes, employees have to learn to speak more candidly and confidently on their own—in interviews or performance reviews, for example. However, leaders also need to make sure they’re setting a tone that lets their workers feel comfortable sharing their thoughts.

According to Cornell professor James Detert, getting employees to speak freely can be especially difficult, largely due to workplace norms, along with their fear of losing out on bonuses, promotions, and even their job for speaking up.

“We have a deep set of defense mechanisms that make us careful around people in authority positions,” says James. Yet he believes lower-level employees are often more in touch with the organization’s “problems and possibilities,” and can identify small issues before they become large and unmanageable—making their opinions especially valuable.

To develop a more open and candid environment, start by identifying issues and subjects that seem to cause silence, then invite employees to lunch or other informal settings to discuss them. Make it clear you’re seeking their honest opinions and give them an incentive or reward for speaking up. Leaders can also promote candor by practicing it themselves—speak openly, and your team will follow.

4. Encourage employees to bring their whole selves to work to improve retention and performance

Feeling comfortable with being yourself at work might seem like a fuzzy goal, but 50% of survey respondents consider it an important element of belonging. And it’s not just about self-expression—in a major study, researchers found that emphasizing individuality on the job led to greater retention, less turnover, and even higher customer satisfaction.

Among the workers surveyed, freedom to be yourself was more important for women than men, possibly due to a pervasive “old boys’ club” mentality in many career paths. It was also more important to millennials than other age groups, which dovetails with the common belief that the millennial generation is especially individualistic.

Allowing your employees to feel comfortable with their true selves is especially important when it comes to improving diversity and company culture. When team members feel like they have to stifle parts of their personality, it doesn’t just harm engagement and feelings of belonging—it can also keep women, minorities, and other potentially marginalized groups from succeeding at a company.

In the study mentioned above, researchers found success by emphasizing individuality during orientation. For example, employees were asked what makes them unique, then given fleeces with their names on them, rather than the company name.

Leaders can also promote individuality and “walk the walk” by choosing not to hide important parts of themselves at work. Also, consider re-tooling your employer branding to reflect employees’ personalities—all it takes is a little trust.

Feeling like you belong at work makes employees happier, but the benefits don’t end there. Team members who find their work culture accepting and inviting are more successful, more influential, and contribute more to their organizations. By emphasizing the four factors outlined here, you can help create the perfect environment for future growth.

Credit: Maxwell Huppert
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The 3 Reasons Why Your Employees Are Disengaged

Roughly three out of four employees are not engaged. And, many of them are pointing the finger at their manager or boss. In fact, the majority of employees say their boss is the most stressful (and often worst) part of their job.

But, at the same time, we have high reports of satisfaction at work. According to SHRM’s annual Job Satisfaction report in 2014, 86% of U.S. employees reported overall satisfaction with their current job, an improvement of five percentage points since 2013.

As a boss and a hiring manager (and let’s face it, my very own HR consultant) I am confused. And that’s because, like many, I have long correlated happiness or satisfaction with engagement. As a result, I did what I could to be a great boss, believing that my focus should be solely on my employees and their happiness at work.

But recently, I realized, that engagement and happiness are NOT the same thing. I’ve written elsewhere about this phenomenon and while I won’t change my compensation practices, how I review employees and give feedback, or suddenly start treating my employees badly, I realized a simple and freeing truth: If an employee is unsatisfied, disengaged or unproductive, it’s not entirely their boss’s fault. They are partially responsible.

However, there are still things you can do to increase employee engagement. Here are three reasons for employee disengagement and guidance you can offer to help them turn the beat around.

1. They don’t fit the company culture

This is an easy mistake anyone can make during a particularly long job hunt. The average job search takes 43 days, so the new hire decided to nab the first decent paying gig they could get. Or, they truly thought they were cut out for a corporate job, when really they are more suited for freelance nation. Either way, they didn’t pay attention to cultural cues during the interview process or neglected taking the time to understand personal work values.

What you can do: When recruiting, using a personality test or work matching algorithm is a pretty good idea, simply to understand who will actually work well in your professional realm. Explaining thoroughly how your office works helps, but it ultimately is on the employee to know how they work best. But when an individual who is hired and turns out to not be a great fit, use the review process and practice transparency to help them understand what can make them better at and more satisfied within the position.

2. They aren’t taking charge of their own career

While some have an excellent point that the freelance nation discussion is mostly had from a place of distinct advantage (we’re not talking about “work-flex” at McDonald’s or for the school janitorial staff), engagement is also not something we ascribe to hourly or minimum wage jobs.*

If a worker is in a field they intend to make a career, then isn’t the auspice on them to…engage? Many of the facets of engagement revolve around things one CAN work on. For example, more engaged workers have friends at work and also cite recognition for their work.

What you can do: Creating opportunities for employees to bond will encourage team friendships and trust. Of course, many of these things have to happen outside of work hours so it’s on the employees to participate. The same goes for projects. Offer opportunities to team members, but realize that some people will never be up for the challenge.

3. They feel under valued

37% of employees say their boss failed to give credit when credit was due. And this matters because if employees feel like their recognition is being stolen by their manager, they won’t be incentivized to work as hard. In turn if you do give them credit, they will be more motivated. In fact, according to Towers Watson, in companies where both leaders and managers are perceived by employees as effective, 72% of employees are highly engaged.

What you can do: While some people are great at tooting their own horn, others are not. So, keep track of who is doing what in order to avoid having employees take credit for things they really didn’t do or downplay their own contributions. Sometimes, your biggest contributors are the quietest and it’s up to you to make sure they are recognized. But remember, credit loses its value if everyone gets it all the time – even if they didn’t really do very much. Be specific with your acknowledgements and continue to provide constructive feedback as well.

While being disengaged at work is a problem in our workforce, it’s not one that can be corrected without employees taking their careers, their happiness and yes, their own engagement levels into consideration. But, you can help by encouraging them to flesh out what they value as a professional, providing tools and opportunities to push their own careers forward and calling them out when they do. Just remember, leaders can guide employees to engagement, not necessarily make them engaged. Do your best to empower your workers, but realize that the worker of 2016 can control some of those elements themselves.

*Image from Mad Men | Credit: Maren Hogan

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5 Meaningful Things Companies Are Doing to Recruit and Retain Women

Six years ago, I had a baby boy. And while this was one of the happiest moments in my life personally, it was also one of the most stressful professionally. I had very limited maternity leave and, though it may sound illogical, I was terrified that I wouldn’t be viewed as valuable when I came back to work.

Even though struggles like mine and those around equal opportunities at work are still common for women, the good news is that in the past few years I have seen companies push for meaningful change when it comes to gender diversity and equality.

Many have started to set specific goals to recruit and hire more women and give them the flexibility or executive support they need. Our most recent LinkedIn data shows that more and more women are taking on leadership positions, with software and IT seeing a 27% increase in female leadership hires over the past eight years. And as if the goodness of all this needed validation, research has proven that companies with a more even ratio of male and female employees are more productive, more innovative, and overall more successful. #ItsAboutTime

Since today is International Women’s Day, we wanted to celebrate the efforts of these companies that have truly embraced hiring, retaining, and elevating women. Here are five that stand out, and we welcome you to join us on social if you want to share how your company pushes for gender equality:

1. Etsy’s “Hacker Grants” helped them grow their female engineer numbers by 500% in one year

80% of Etsy’s customers are women and, as of 2016, 54% of its employees are also women. That might make it seem like they were doing pretty will with regard to diversity, but that great representation didn’t extend to its engineering team, which was only 20.5% women just two years ago.

To turn things around, Etsy developed their “Hacker Grants” program, which provides talented women engineers with three-month scholarships to Hacker School (a.k.a. The Recurse Center), an intensive program that teaches engineers to hone and improve their skills. The unique program was super successful for both parties: Etsy’s applications from women engineers immediately skyrocketed, while the Hacker School significantly improved the gender parity in its classes.

Also, though Etsy’s team had realized that it was difficult to hire senior female engineers, the Hacker Grants program allowed them to bring in women at a junior engineering level and then provide them with valuable hands-on experience via the Hacker School.

2. Intel offers larger bonuses to employees who refer female candidates

At Intel, employees who refer a female (or minority) candidate that ends up getting hired are eligible for a double referral bonus of up to $4,000. This was an especially important initiative for Intel, where women made up only 20% of the company as recently as 2014—compared to 47% of the workplace overall.

No strategy leads to overnight results—but Intel has seen its female representation go up every year since making the commitment. In 2015, their first full year after announcing the new bonuses, 43% of Intel’s new hires were either women or minorities, including 40% of VPs. This was actually 3% above Intel’s target goal and significantly better than most of its competitors. Since then, other companies have followed in Intel’s footsteps, including Accenture and Microsoft.

3. Google improved its maternity leave benefits to boost female retention

When it comes to improving overall representation for women, retention is just as important as hiring. For example, a 2017 report from the Anita Borg Institute, which advocates for female representation in tech, found that even though tech firms are hiring more women, female employees have been leaving companies at a higher rate (5.7%) than men (5.1%) for two years running.

Google addressed this problem with one simple change: significantly increasing maternity leave benefits to five months.

“We give five months with full pay: salary, bonus, stock,” says Laszlo Bock, Google’s former SVP of People Operations. “We used to do 12 weeks of salary, and women who came back from leave [left] at twice the rate of men. Now it’s the same [for men and women].”

And as Laszlo points out, working to retain more female employees isn’t just good for diversity—it also makes business sense, given how much less expensive it is to retain an existing employee than to replace them.

“On the face of it, you’re losing [months] of a worker’s productive time,” says Laszlo. “But someone can pick up the slack. It more than pays for itself in not having to go recruit someone brand new.”

4. Accenture encourages a sense of belonging to attract and retain more female employees

Creating a “sense of belonging” for employees is one of the most important factors in improving diversity at any company. Realizing that, Accenture made “belonging” a centerpiece of its strategy to attract and retain more female employees.

Accenture recently set a diversity goal to grow its percentage of female employees to at least 50% by 2025—they were at 36.2% in 2016—but the real strategic work is being done behind the scenes by its TA team, led by Kim Cleaves.

Of Kim’s strategies for hiring more women, one of the most important is creating an environment where all employees can bring their “whole selves to work.” One way they achieved this is through their “Inclusion Starts with I” video, an internally produced video in which real employees share their honest opinions on inclusion and belonging in the workplace. The powerful result was so popular that Accenture ended up sharing it with the public.

“We embrace diversity as a source of creativity and competitive advantage,” adds Accenture’s Ellyn Shook. “As we work toward ‘50 by 25,’ our ultimate goal is to create a truly human environment where people have a real sense of belonging, where they can show up every day, be who they are and be their best, both professionally and personally.”

The approach seems to have paid off for Accenture: they tied for 2nd in a recent ranking of anonymous female employee scores by Fairygodboss, with 79% saying they’d recommend the company to other women.

5. Iceland’s new equal pay law makes the gender pay gap illegal

Yes, Iceland is a country, not a company—but it’s definitely worth mentioning the major stand it recently took against pay discrimination in the workplace with a new law that requires employers to pay men and women equally for the same work. The equal pay law was actually proposed on International Women’s Day in 2017 and went into effect on January 1st of this year.

Under Iceland’s new law, companies and agencies with 25 or more employees will be legally required to have their equal pay policies certified by the government, and fines will be given to companies that fail to prove they’ve achieved parity. The certification process ensures that companies don’t just commit to paying men and women equally—they have to actually follow through.

“I think that now people are starting to realise that this is a systematic problem that we have to tackle with new methods,” said Dagny Osk Aradottir Pind of the Icelandic Women’s Rights Association.

Iceland is obviously doing something right: they’ve been ranked as the world’s most gender-equal country for nine years running by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and have a plan to completely eliminate the pay gap by 2020.

Final thoughts

While there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy that will instantly bring about gender equality in the workforce, I’m excited to see companies making real efforts to get there—from changing how they source and hire to implementing new benefits, coaching, and support for female employees. There’s still a ways to go, but it’s clear that pushing for what we need is bringing about change.

And if you personally want to be part of the change, I invite you to jump on social and take a moment to thank a woman who has helped you #PressforProgress in your industry or more specifically, your career.

  • Credit to Marta Riggins from Business LinkedIn (C)
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