The impact of AI on executive recruiting

AboveBoard | Sep 20, 2023

The lowdown on artificial intelligence and recruiting

The worlds of artificial intelligence and executive recruiting have intersected long before AI became a buzzword. 

With new iterations of this technology rapidly evolving, executives seeking their next opportunity and talent owners may be wondering about AI's impact on executive hiring. The short answer? Artificial intelligence is just one recruiting tool among many, and learning how to leverage it now can give both job candidates and recruiters the advantage when it comes to efficient executive search. 

In this article, we'll talk about the role of AI in recruitment, the impact of AI on hiring, and how to engage with AI as a leader, whether you're a job seeker or a hiring manager/recruiter. For more on AI-driven talent acquisition, tune in to a full conversation on this topic featuring AboveBoard Founder and CEO Lucinda Duncalfe and executives from True, AboveBoard’s sister company and the premier global platform of innovative talent management products and services.

Let's get started.

The role of AI in recruitment

Artificial intelligence is everywhere, from everyday tech like Siri or Alexa to novelties like ChatGPT. What does that mean for the nexus of generative AI and recruiting?

For Lucinda Duncalfe, Executive Vice President of True Technologies and Founder/CEO of AboveBoard, understanding AI through the lens of the following analogy is helpful. Consider the roles of a lawyer and a paralegal. The role of the paralegal is likely to be replaced by AI, but the lawyer isn't at that risk, at least not in the near future "because there's a contextualization" needed, Duncalfe said. 

"I think it's going to look a lot like that in recruiting," Duncalfe predicts. The use of AI in recruitment will allow hiring companies and recruiters to create a shortlist of candidates and conduct outreach more efficiently. "But at the end of the day, there's going to be someone who looks at that person, talks to that person, and finds that perfect fit," she said.

The world of executive search or recruitment requires "a very tight and specific match" for a given role, said Duncalfe. Typically, there may be millions of candidates to fit tens, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of executive roles, and at each level career stage and industry function, among other factors, must fit perfectly. "That's both the opportunity and the challenge" of the use of AI in recruitment, according to Duncalfe. "AI works best with lots of volume, lots of things to learn from. Here, we have a smaller number of matches. That gets to the core of how we utilize these tools on the hiring side: understanding that unique challenge."

The impact of AI on hiring

Next up, we'll dive into examples of AI in recruitment, taking a look at how AI can drive diversity in recruitment, improve efficiency, and offer unparalleled insights for top tier matches. 

No. 1: Advances diversity 

One of the most exciting elements of AI is its use "as a tool to have a more meritocratic, less-biased" executive hiring process," panelist Ryan Williams, CEO of Jopwell, said. The use of AI in recruitment can ensure a more diverse slate of candidates make it to the "top of the resume stack," Williams said, exposing executive candidates to opportunities they're strong contenders for that they may have never known about or raised their hands for.

No. 2: Mitigates bias 

On the recruiting side, the role of AI in recruitment can serve to reduce unconscious or implicit biases that may arise during the hiring process. Using artificial intelligence tools as part of a blind hiring practice is just one way to make the most of this technology.

While uniting AI and recruiting offers benefits for diversity, equity, and inclusion, it's important to be mindful of the potential pitfalls too. According to Duncalfe, "the data sets that many of these tools are trained on are biased by us as individuals." Rather than advancing diversity and equity, AI tools can amplify biases, particularly if the data they're trained on is biased. Companies should be thoughtful about, and at least aware of, how the data sets they're using can impact searches, especially if those data sets are non-diverse. Considering the "extreme underrepresentation of women and people of every color at the executive level," it's crucial to see both the challenges and the opportunities that the use of AI in recruitment can bring. How can we implement these systems in a way that reverses bias? "There's an enormous opportunity there," according to Duncalfe. 

No. 3: Drives efficiency 

The use of AI in artificial intelligence helps offload some of the "paperwork" as it relates to executive recruiting, creating more space for person-to-person connection in the hiring process. Nemo Nemeth, True's Chief Data & Analytics Officer, describes the use of AI in recruitment as "extremely powerful," cutting down the time it takes hiring companies and recruiters to identify the right candidate. This efficiency creates more space for the human side of executive recruiting like screening for chemistry and culture fit, understanding how the candidate engages with other executives and the board, and other factors that AI isn't capable of capturing. 

No. 4: Offers unparalleled insights 

Data-driven search combined with the use of AI in recruitment offers unparalleled insights for hiring companies and recruiters, offering them metrics to better identify and understand executive candidates. Examples of AI in recruitment include:

    • Offering a big picture perspective on an organization's current hiring practices, existing employees, the status of the candidate pipeline, and more. 
    • Identifying inequities like disparities in compensation.
    • Predicting a candidate's attrition risk through factors such as company performance, tenure, background, whether they're a founder or executive, if their background is a fit for their current role, etc.

And these examples of AI in recruitment are just the tip of the iceberg. As artificial intelligence continues to evolve, so will its applications for sectors like executive recruiting.

How to engage with AI at work

Now that we've taken a wide-ranging look at the role of AI in recruitment, you may be wondering, what's next? Channa Green, True's Chief Communication Officer, recommends that talent owners "take risks." "Even if they're small, incremental usage of any AI tool can make material difference in the long run," she said. "Don't be afraid to take those risks. But when you do, make sure you're starting with a very clear goal."

Ahead, concrete steps talent owners can take today to leverage generative AI and recruiting. 

    • Be an early adopter. Along the way, you'll gain experience, insight, and expertise that will serve you well as the technology continues to evolve. 
    • Identify your goals. What are you hoping to achieve, and how can AI help you get there?  
    • Use it for everyday work, if/when applicable. Don't discount the small steps. Gaining comfort and clarity around certain AI tools can help you leverage the technology at an organizational level.
    • Prioritize data. A clean internal data set will be "a huge differentiator" in terms of unlocking the power of artificial intelligence and large language models at your organization, says Nemeth, True's Chief Data & Analytics Officer.
Job seekers can take the steps above and tailor them to their current and prospective roles. When it comes to the executive recruitment process, job seekers can take advantage of generative AI and recruiting by being intentional about their public-facing online profiles. The information shared and stored here is largely what's populating several artificial intelligence tools. Consider details like your branding and word choices, how you describe yourself and your background/work experience. 

Leverage AboveBoard's innovative platform model

Ultimately, the end goal of executive recruiting is to "get the best person possible in that seat as efficiently as possible," said Duncalfe, AboveBoard founder. At AboveBoard, efficiency, transparency, and access drive each search. How? AboveBoard's platform shifts the power dynamics of executive search, creating an entirely new model where seasoned executives can confidentially access opportunities that are typically hidden, while also offering companies connectivity to an untapped network of top tier candidates. More than 50,000 executives and 2,400 companies including The Vanguard Group, Hubspot, and The Kraft Heinz Company are already using our platform.

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AboveBoard is an executive hiring platform that connects qualified executives with board and full-time opportunities. We are expanding access for underrepresented groups of executives—particularly Black, Latinx, and women. To join visit

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