How Connected Society Helps Companies and Job Hunters Connect12 min read
November 13, 2018 • Industry Insights
The average American makes 12 job changes throughout their career, which translates into one job hop every 4.2 years. Over the decades, the job search experience has changed dramatically. Once, the primary roadmap for job seekers was the classifieds section of the local newspaper. Now, job seekers have a seemingly endless array of online job boards and social media sites at their fingertips, allowing them to network with individuals and companies around the world.
These changes have provided great opportunities for job candidates and employers alike, but they have also created new challenges. Many employers are now faced with too much of a good thing — a huge supply of eager candidates — while job seekers often feel like they’re submitting resumes to an electronic void, never to hear from the company.
Can the rise of artificial intelligence — computer programming that learns and grows — solve these new challenges and help employers and job seekers leverage the full potential of our connected society?
The Job Search Has Changed… a Lot
Once upon a time, the best way to find a new job was to check the back page of the local newspaper. Job candidates had no choice but to work with the limited options listed, while employers never knew if their job ad would reach the right candidate.
Then the internet changed everything, including the job search process. Job boards, such as Monster.com and Indeed.com, now offer long lists of available positions. Candidates can search for their ideal career and apply for positions across the country — or across the world — with the click of their mouse or a tap on the screen of their smartphone. (28 percent of Americans use smartphones as part of the job search.) Additionally, social networks like LinkedIn have made it easier than ever for job seekers to keep in touch with their colleagues and acquaintances, and to seek out and build relationships with leaders at their dream companies.
The internet was also a boon for employers. Companies can post open positions on a range of job boards and receive a flood of interested candidates. Niche job boards and social media sites make it easier to track down potential candidates who have specialized skill sets for hard-to-fill positions.
While the current job search is a clear improvement over the newspaper ads of the past, the internet has also created new challenges. For example, despite the radical connection made possible by the internet, some companies still have trouble finding quality candidates for highly specialized jobs. It can be difficult to assess how one set of skills will translate into a one-of-a-kind job.
Even with the improvements brought about by the internet, recruiting technology is still one of the most important tools for recruiters. It helps resolve many of the challenges both job seekers and employers face.
The Challenges for Job Seekers and Employers
Technology has opened up a world of opportunity for job seekers, making it easier to find jobs and learn about potential employers. However, it has also stripped away some of the human element from the job-hunting process, which can leave job seekers confused, frustrated, and resentful.
The Resume Black Hole
Job seekers submit their resumes and cover letters through a company’s website, a talent agency, or a job board. From the candidate’s perspective, however, too often this is where an opportunity ends. The candidate may excitedly send off their resume and keep a hopeful eye on their email, only to wait for a reply that never comes. They have entered the resume black hole.
Randstad US surveyed over 1,200 job seekers about their job-hunting experiences and found that “87 percent of respondents agree technology has made the job search process more impersonal.” When candidates never receive a “thank you” for submitting an application or an update on the hiring process, it can have a lasting impact on the business. In fact, the survey found that “one-third of workers who had a negative experience during the job search process will never reapply to the organization, nor refer a friend or family member to the company.” Recruitment CRM software can help alleviate these concerns by automating communications to candidates and applicants.
Never-Ending Wait Times
Even for job candidates who garner the interest of employers, the wait can be a long one as employers wade through competing resumes and wait for the hiring manager to review. For a job candidate eager to switch careers, leave an unpleasant job, or find a job that pays the bills, long wait times can be emotionally and financially exhausting. Delays can even lead candidates to accept an opportunity only because it is available sooner, causing employers to miss out on potentially strong candidates.
Overlooking Strong Candidates
Many employers rely on software to filter and organize applicants; this helps save time and streamlines the applicant review process. However, these programs can cause employers to unintentionally overlook strong candidates. For example, when an otherwise qualified candidate uses a specific or uncommon job title, like “Chief Chatter,” to describe their position as a “Call Center Manager,” or “Customer Happiness Guru” instead of “Customer Service Representative,” the technology may not recognize the difference.
Additionally, what if a candidate doesn’t meet a specific job qualification, such as a certain level of education, but their real-world experience would still qualify them? These are distinctions that humans can easily make, but some recruiting platforms may miss. As a result, highly qualified, but non-traditional candidates may be passed over.
A Potential for Bias
Unfortunately, bias still exists in the hiring process. According to the Harvard Business Review, “A vast body of research shows that the hiring process is biased and unfair. Unconscious racism, ageism, and sexism play a big role in who gets hired.”
Even with all of the innovation in the job space, discrimination continues to persist. This makes it more difficult for certain job seekers to receive a fair evaluation and the same opportunities as their peers.
Too Many Applicants, Too Little Time
The primary challenge that employers and recruiters face is too many candidates — qualified or not. The average corporate job opening receives 250 resumes. From this haystack of candidates, HR representatives must choose a handful to interview and one individual to hire. Or, in some circumstances, begin the search anew.
Many organizations do not have the resources to quickly and effectively process all of the applications they receive, which is one of the reasons so many job candidates never hear back after submitting a resume.
The Promise of Artificial Intelligence
While recruiters and employers have always, and will always, need the human touch to hire the right candidates, software platforms are important tools for the process. Recruiting technology has led to significant improvements in capturing, identifying, and reviewing job candidates, and the next generation of technology will build upon these advancements.
What sets artificial intelligence-powered programs apart from standard software? AI has the capacity to learn and adapt, and thus improve its performance and accuracy. These traits can allow AI to continue to improve how candidates and employers engage from initial meeting to final offer.
Finding Quality Talent
AI software can search candidate databases to determine ideal candidates for positions — even positions that are not yet vacant. In this way, AI can continually keep a company’s talent pipeline prepped for future job openings. Furthermore, candidates can rest assured that their resume isn’t sitting dormant in a database, but is an active part of ongoing recruiting efforts.
Complicated and changing interview schedules can delay the hiring process if a recruiter struggles to match candidate and interviewer availabilities. AI-powered scheduling solutions can simplify the process by automatically identifying ideal times for the hiring team and candidates. The sooner a candidate can put the interview date on their calendar, the sooner they can start preparing in earnest for the interview process.
Thanks to machine learning, AI’s capacity to learn and evolve is one of its most exciting features. Whereas an applicant tracking system may not realize that a “software architect” is often synonymous with “software engineer,” AI can be taught to understand new words and phrases. It can also learn to make connections as it interprets more and more resumes and receives human feedback on whether its recommendations are helpful or off course.
In this way, an AI program could efficiently and more accurately filter the 250 (on average) resumes a company receives for its job opening, then recommend only the top-quality candidates to an HR representative for review. AI may be less likely to overlook a great candidate who may not have used the most popular keywords.
AI also has the potential to address unconscious human bias in the initial filtering and talent selection process. For example, AI can be programmed to ignore and make no judgements based on an applicant’s name, gender, or age (which a human may deduce from length of work history or education dates).
Working with AI does take some focused attention and sensitivity. For example, if a company does not currently have a diverse workforce, or its machine learning is guided in an unintended direction, the AI algorithm may unintentionally search for or recommend only candidates that are similar to current employees of the company.
Is AI Right for Your Company?
While both the internet and recruiting technology have come a long way toward connecting employers and potential employees, many feel that the importance of the human touch has been lost in the equation. The Randstad US study found that 82 percent of its respondents agreed that “the ideal interaction with a company is one where innovative technologies are behind the scenes and second to personal human interaction.”
Artificial intelligence has the potential to help job candidates and employers find each other more efficiently, bringing enhancements to a potentially cumbersome recruiting process and improving it as much as the internet and recruiting software did. After all, “studies suggest AI will ultimately create more jobs than it destroys, helping existing employees work with better data and greater efficiency while crafting entirely new categories of work.” In helping streamline recruiters’ jobs, AI helps connect candidates with the right jobs.
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Jessica Bennett is a writer, editor, and novelist. Her clients span a number of industries, and she’s written blog posts, product descriptions, articles, white papers, and press releases— all in the name of inbound marketing. She’s proud to be Inbound Certified.