By Chase Wilson, Senior Vice President – Solutions & Product Innovation

Harvard Business School released a report that has generated an array of articles focused on recruiting automation systems as a key element in employers’ difficulty in accessing talent pools. As the Harvard report highlighted, the growing mismatch between employers and the unemployed has exposed the need for strategic improvement in organizations’ approach to talent acquisition, and that includes the need to leverage AI and automation more effectively.

Here are four reasons to look a bit deeper when assessing which aspects of your talent acquisition process and systems are really holding you back from finding the hidden talent pools you most need:

1. Automation is just following orders
Automation has opened the aperture for applicants to quickly apply to multiple job opportunities, and it has streamlined the hiring process for employers to acquire talent more efficiently. However, automated recruiting systems do not independently make screening decisions. Blaming the automation is equivalent to blaming referees for your favorite team losing every week – either they are doing their job or the rules are the problem.

Humans design the automation and determine the criteria that AI uses to screen candidates and when it is not generating the right results, it is humans who must change it. Although the quality of automated screening and assessment technologies can vary greatly, it starts with talent acquisition professionals setting it up with the proper criteria to screen and deliver results. They must continuously monitor the technology, adjusting as necessary – it is not a “click it and forget it” solution.

2. Legacy job descriptions need a makeover
Most organizations rarely update their job descriptions. They continue to follow old templates, making occasional, minor tweaks. But jobs are continuously evolving, so many responsibilities and skill requirements in job descriptions may no longer align with performance expectations – which can be misleading to candidates.

Outdated job descriptions and credential requirements can also result in quality candidates either being screened out or deciding not to apply based on faulty information. For example, many IT job descriptions still include college degree requirements where sufficient on-the-job experience or certifications are better measures of likely success. Other requirements like industry experience unduly restrict the available candidate pool.

To appeal to a wider range of applicants, TA leaders need to reboot their job descriptions and be willing to break glass in terms of how jobs are defined. Job descriptions must inform the candidate on the role’s performance expectations and what a “day in the life” in the role and company would be like.

3. Limited bandwidth of evaluating stakeholders
Automated screening tools are not designed to increase the number of applicants but to speed the hiring process by efficiently identifying the most qualified candidates for review by overworked recruiters and understaffed hiring managers. Without screening automation, recruiters overwhelmed with a deluge of candidates may be inclined to go straight to the top of the heap. With automation, they may still consider a small percentage of candidates, but, when done correctly, the most qualified candidates are the first to be reviewed.

Now, the challenge is to adjust the criteria to not eliminate non-traditional candidates who are well qualified but lack some credentials or have an intermittent employment history, which is too exclusionary for today’s job market. It is unrealistic to expect that most companies will drastically expand the number of candidates they are interviewing, in the interest of inclusion. There is simply not enough time in the manager’s day. What is more realistic is to target hidden talent through effective HR strategies and adjust automation filters to ensure no one is unnecessarily excluded.

4. Finding hidden talent requires updated strategies
In a talent desert when job vacancies are difficult to fill, it is necessary to clearly understand the talent you need versus the talent that is available. Rightly or wrongly, the unemployed and underemployed have been traditionally viewed as more risky hiring prospects. But they now represent a tremendous opportunity to challenge hiring orthodoxy and create new norms for inclusion.

Companies that continue to use hiring criteria based exclusively on anecdotal or even machine interpretations of what has been successful in the past will either find themselves with few applicants or will continue hiring the same people. These hamper diversity and inclusion goals and ensure that some talent pools remain in the shadows. By deliberately targeting hidden talent that has the potential to perform well in the organization and assuring the hiring process is inclusive of those candidates, companies can fill jobs faster, improve diversity, and drive higher retention by offering individuals opportunities where others would not.

The ability to attract untapped candidates throughout the workforce and match them with available jobs is not just an issue of return on HR investment for the organization, it is a key factor in reducing the income inequality that has grown exponentially over the past generation. Although technology is a key driver in creating this inequality by making some jobs unattainable for vulnerable individuals, automation, AI and other technologies can also be a key driver in solving the problem – if used effectively.



Connect with Chase on LinkedIn.