Sorry, 2018 Won’t Be the Year of A.I., But Growth Hacking Will Be


Prediction is challenging, especially if it’s about the future. Many of us are trying to predict what the future in recruitment is going to look like, because knowing what the future will bring us also gives us the advantage that we all are looking for.

Many predictions from last year were about A.I. (artificial intelligence) and chatbots. A.I. was quite a topic during throughout last year, and I am sure that it will still be a hot topic throughout the year. However, I don’t think A.I. will dominate as many are predicting. 

Bear with me here, before you write a comment that I am wrong, crazy, or I have seen the future coming and don’t have a clue about A.I. All of these things could be true; I am not going to argue with you here, but these are my arguments for why A.I. will be a hotter topic in 2019 than 2018.


A.I. is a new technology

A.I. is still a new and unexplored technology for many recruiters. I am sure that almost every recruiter has heard about A.I., but many of them haven’t had a possibility of working with A.I. tools or have even tried them. For some of them, A.I. technology is still a mystery, and they don’t understand it yet.


The pricing

The pricing for many tools is outside of the range of many small companies and agencies. Smaller companies and talent and acquisition departments can’t afford to purchase most A.I. products, and their leaders aren’t prepared to invest financing in this new technology. 


Current technology still sucks

Yes, this is my personal opinion, and I am aware that this is a strong statement and many of you are going to point out that I am wrong. However, most chatbots that I have seen are not working correctly. Even though there are many interesting tools and apps on the market that could boost your recruitment process, sadly most of these tools suck. They could have a great A.I. engine, but most of them still need improvement and enough data that can be used for learning.


Companies don’t know how to use the full potential of A.I.

Many of my friends who are working at companies where they implement tools with A.I. share with me that they are using only a few functionalities that these tools provide.

This is mainly because of two reasons. First, they implement the tool that is not solving their real problem. The second reason is that recruiters are creatures of habit. They stick with things that they already know, and not everybody is open or has the time for new tests.

Since recruiters have read how A.I. is going to replace them, they may not be as eager to start using the tools that could replace them. If recruiters and sourcers aren’t taking full advantage of these new A.I. products, then they aren’t getting any functional results. If results continue to lag, budget holders are not going to reinvest in this technology or perhaps any new tools shortly. 


What will be the “main” topic for 2018?

My money is in Growth Hacking. This is my prediction, and I believe this will be the primary topic for 2018, but the “blockchain in recruitment” will try to hijack the “main topic.” Very soon we will see articles such as, “blockchain recruitment is the only way,” “blockchain LinkedIn,” “Blockchain this and that…”


What is growth hacking?

Growth hacking is a word with strong roots in the world of startups. The origin of the word can be traced to the year 2010 when Sean Ellis coined the phrase ‘Growth Hacker’ to explain his frustration with getting replacements for himself as he sought to retire from his erstwhile job.

To put a definition to the phrase, growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by startups that utilize the combination of creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure.

In layman’s term, we can say it is merely the act of experimenting with different methods to make a company more successful and bigger, i.e., a growth hacker undertakes the initiative of birthing and nurturing the consistent growth of an organization.

Many times growth hackers have been thought of as marketers but in many ways being a growth hacker is much more than just having a marketing degree; a growth hacker can combine marketing creativity and innovation with the ability to code marketing hacks.

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For example, in a startup, the process of charting the part for growth and establishment of the organization might be much more than just establishing a strategic marketing plan or just building a marketing team; growth hacking encapsulates every available strategy to grow and expand the organization’s operation base and capitalization.


Growth hacking in recruitment

Recruiters are already using many growth hacking tricks to get their message to their audience, especially when growth hacking involves thinking outside of the box, which is a necessary thing to do in the current market.

Recruiters are consistently under pressure from managers to find the best possible fit within the shortest possible time. This recruitment growth hacking involves the use of technology, shortcuts and new ideas to save time by eradicating/automating low-value activities so you can focus on the high-value activities that help you find and hire the right people for your business.

Experimenting with new methods is one of the fundamental principles of the growth hacking process. Although growth hackers share the same aim with marketers, their approach is not as conservative. They use an empirical process in getting to the projected outcome. One aid to the efficiency of growth hackers is the freedom to invent and operate their own self-propagating growth machine that can take the organization to greater heights.

As I mentioned before, recruiters are already using various types of growth hacks, but this year I am expecting that many of them will start learning more about “growth hacking,” how to use data and target more people for fewer costs.


Why Growth Hacking will dominate 2018 instead of A.I.

These are a few points that explain why growth hacking will be more popular in recruitment than A.I.

  • Everybody could learn some fundamental growth hacking tips within a short period.
  • It is cheaper, and growth hacking won’t cost companies more than implementing an A.I. tool.
  • Recruiters don’t need to ask for extra budget or approvals to learn about it.
  • Growth hacking is excellent not only for attracting new customers; it’s also a great way to attract candidates.
  • Growth hacking will improve writing skills of recruiters, and this will lead to more compelling job ads. This will help generate more potential candidates.


Growth hacking is a useful tool for organizational advancement as it curates innovative ways of propagating and promoting both the products of the company as well as the company’s image. It also provides actual tractable data from which recruiters can draw statistical conclusions and base their subsequent actions upon.

Slowly, all the compelling images, videos, etc. that recruiters and other people are posting on LinkedIn won’t matter anymore. The clickbait titles will lose their power, and the only thing that will matter will be the right content, the right message.

Recruiters that can write meaningful content and have the growth hacking skills will be the hidden gem for any organization because they can bring a recruitment team more than just candidates. They also help to spread the news about the company, company culture, and company products.


A.I. will undoubtedly bring great things to recruitment in the future. And those who implemented the right tools will gain a significant advantage, but the year 2018 won’t belong to A.I., it will belong to growth hackers. But the year 2019 will be the year of A.I.

Forecasting is the art of saying what will happen, and then explaining why it didn’t.” And maybe my first article of 2019 will have a title, “I wasn’t wrong because…” 🙂


Jan Tegze, Senior Recruiting Manager, results-oriented Talent Acquisition Leader with extensive experience in full life cycle recruiting, and broad knowledge in international recruiting, sourcing, recruitment branding, recruitment marketing, and pro-active innovative sourcing techniques. Author of the Sourcing.GamesRecruitment.Camp, SourcingTest.Online and blogger who believes that recruitment is a great field and he is constantly trying to make it better. He is also the author of the book Full Stack Recruiter: The Modern Recruiter’s Guide and Full Stack Recruiter: New Secrets Revealed.



6 Comments on “Sorry, 2018 Won’t Be the Year of A.I., But Growth Hacking Will Be

  1. Great article, Jan, and timely for recruiters to get up to speed. If your A.I. premise is correct in terms of time delay, while recruiters can sigh “relief”, 2018 is the year to get up to Growth Hacking speed. As a follow up article (or comment- although I think an article would be appreciated by all)- what do you see as the competencies required for excellence in this area? What skills/knowledge should sourcers/recruiters be leveraging to achieve that next level and which gaps should they be looking to close? Thanks in advance for your feedback- and your thought leadership!

    1. Hi Lenore, if you want an article about I will try to write something in near future 🙂 But if you need comment, here it is: Everybody is asking a similar question like you “What skills/knowledge should sourcers/recruiters be leveraging to achieve that next level?” But what is the next level? Many recruiters start learning new things just because somebody wrote about them. But they got two or three things from it and they start looking for the “next new thing”, but they don’t invest a time and master the previous skill. I don’t think it’s about the “next skill or next knowledge”, it should be about learning the basics and master them. It’s great that somebody will learn about Growth Hacking (“next thing”), learn how to write more compelling posts etc. But without knowledge of Google Analytics, they are missing part of the “story”. All skills are connected and when people see it, that could get them on the “next level”.

      1. Thanks, Jan, for your reply. When posing the question I was thinking along the lines of past articles, e.g. what makes a good sourcer. People answer the question differently. The best question from my comment is probably- what should we leverage (already have mastery of and/or competencies). I see learning as leveraging what I know and enjoy – and closing ‘motivated gaps’ (what do I want to learn next). The latter comes from several areas- gaps I’ve had over time in an area not given time to- and- new content that becomes available. Total agreement that w/o mastery- jumping from thing to thing (tool to tool, etc.) lacks the depth needed to achieve.

        1. Lenore, I’d agree with Jan regarding mastery of the basics of sourcing, but “basics” doesn’t mean they are easy/simple. Basics means “the essential facts or principles of a subject or skill,” and I believe most people don’t ever master them, let alone pursue mastery of them. These essential facts/principles will include critical thinking and problem solving (important elements of growth hacking) as well as the human element of sourcing, which I have lately been describing as social engineering. This latter subject – understanding people, what motivates them, and how to best communicate with and influence them – is something that is nearly and remarkably non-existent when it comes to sourcing (and recruiting – but I’d argue sourcing candidates is outbound recruiting…a debate for a juicy post I believe). At least 90% of the content you’ve seen online and presented to at conferences has been focused on tools, technologies and methodologies for finding people, yet very little is shared with regard to the psychological elements of sourcing candidates – how to get people to respond, how to get people to be open to speaking and be open and honest, addressing and overcoming objections, how to convert potential candidates into candidates and hires, how to elicit referrals, etc., all of which serve as a multiplier to the effectiveness of finding people in the first place. Does a sourcer need to find X people to result in a hire, or 1/2X? The difference will be in the ability to quickly and easily find the right people (leads) as well as their ability to convert those leads to candidates and hires – the latter half of the equation being the social engineering element, IMHO and experience.

          There will always be an evolution in technology, and AI is helping to automate the top of the funnel (finding, engaging, prescreening and scheduling – especially applicants). This isn’t happening widely yet, but it is happening now and will continue to increase, and I’ve seen automated outbound recruiting solutions live in production and working too. As such, I believe focusing on mastering critical thinking, analytical and problem solving skills that can be applied to ANY tool, as well as mastering the human element of sourcing candidates should be the focus of any sourcer, and the latter will likely never be able to be automated or solved by AI, or at least not anytime soon. 😉

          1. Thank you, Glen, for your share and perspective. As in Jan’s desription of the growth hacker- another way of putting a high achieving sourcer who well-rounded expertise to find and engage talent for the short and the long term- your focus on Social Engineering adds another layer of must have knowledge. Tools are great- they’ve made our work easier and at times exciting. However- as in any situation- any tool- in any field- is only as good as the person using it – their judgment and overall knowledge of a subject. As someone with a human behavior background, (MSW, psychotherapist), the ‘how to ‘ of reading people from reviewing profiles to engaging, maintaining and nurturing engagement, and moving candidates along, has always seemed like a natural skill and requirement for recruiters and sourcers (fine lines between). I’ve been struck, coming in to this field from ‘left field’ , by the recent focus on the importance of ‘being human’ with candidates (‘people’ who are in the market or might be open to- they’re people first). Why would one ever approach a candidate as a commodity? We’re all complex beings. AI tools and resources will never replace cognitive and emotional intelligence. I believe that. Case in point- Wizard of Oz– there is always someone behind the curtain. And, as much as our love affair with technology and machines continues- people like to connect with people. We need more humanizing in the world and field- not less.

  2. Wow! That’s excellent list. Well this is the time of AI and working hard for developing business reach while we have tools for Lead generation is useless. I have used few tools for my business for growth hacking like AeroLeads, rainClutch , Rapportive and this tools help me a lot.

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