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New Year – New Career – is AI screening you out of the recruitment process?

30 January, 2019Dominie Moss, founder of The Return Hub
Compressed startup-photosIf it’s been a while since you hit the job market and your goals for 2019 include relaunching or pivoting your career, read on. Things may have changed since the last time you looked and some of these changes might be worth knowing about.

We live in an extremely busy world. We need things almost immediately and the recruitment process is no exception. Time is money and if a role is to be filled, 9 times out of 10 it needs to be filled quickly. Firms are constantly evolving new ways to make this process as efficient as possible but unfortunately there can be unintended consequences that prove a stumbling block in your search.

The new world of recruitment involves RPO & AI. RPO stands for “recruitment processing outsourcing”: firms outsource the recruitment process to external companies that they use on demand to fill their roles. Such RPO teams are measured on their ‘time to hire” and are under pressure to deliver candidates fast - it’s in their interests to move as quickly as possible, leaving little time to find or assess a candidate that isn’t immediately an obvious fit. Looking for ‘non-standard’ candidates takes more time and money and cannot be done via automated processes.

And this is a booming industry which is growing 15% a year globally. One large City institution now has 50 RPO staff situated in its own offices, searching for new hires at scale.

Artificial intelligence (AI), is another tool that is increasingly used in the recruitment process. ATS systems (Applicant Tracking Systems) that scan a CV for key words can discard those CVs which don’t feature the correct words or that have gaps in employment on them. Automated interviewing is another seemingly time saving tool. Candidates are asked set questions by a pre-recorded voice through a screen. Answers might have air time with a human recruiter at some point, but these systems have algorithms that measure body language and tone of voice to assess whether candidates might be similar to existing employees at the organisation. If behaviours don’t match, expect to be axed from the next round. AI was supposed to be the answer to the problem of human unconscious bias – that to recruit the best people we need to take humans and their ingrained judgement out of the process. But instead we’re left with programmable systems that in order to be any use need to have clearly defined parameters. Amazon admitted recently that their AI hiring process penalised women’s CVs and they have since ditched the system, but the point was well made.

What’s missing in both processes is a human touch. As much as humans can make mistakes, carry with them the baggage of unconscious bias, take their time and incur greater costs, we are designed to be able to read body language, understand intonation and ask more questions. We can assess candidates’ softer skills and engage with them to learn more. Lou Adler on LinkedIn sums it up brilliantly “…attracting and hiring top talent is a high touch, relationship-based process. AI trivializes the process…” he goes on to say “…The idea that people and jobs are just commodities that can be mixed and matched with advanced technology suggests that filing the open requisition is the goal, not improving job satisfaction or on-the-job performance.”

That is why we do things differently at The Return Hub – our clients understand that building a diverse workforce can’t be done by traditional or efficiency saving recruitment methods. They have committed to a different approach and rely on us to assess and match candidates to them based on experience and transferable skills. So if you are looking to relaunch or change direction in your career, please do get in touch.

The Return Hub logoThe Return Hub is an executive search firm that places professionals who want to relaunch their careers with employers in the financial services sector. They also advise on and implement practical strategies that companies can use to target, assess, hire and support returning talent. Register free for opportunities ranging from return to work programmes, full, part-time and flexible positions.

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