It’s a cliché, but nonetheless true, that as time passes all processes become dated.
Some might need to be thrown out completely. Many more need to be adjusted and refined to keep up as workplaces and ways of working change.
I’m not old enough to remember the recruitment days of Rolodex and faxed documents. But I’ve heard the stories. Paper mountains of resumes teetering on desks. Consultants queuing at the one office fax machine to send their applicants’ profiles to clients.
Who knew that today we’d be communicating almost instantly by email, on our own computers, or sifting through resumes using Applicant Tracking Systems? In the 1980s that would have sounded like something from Doctor Who.
Since then, it’s all slowed down a bit.
Sure, ATSs take a lot of the legwork out of choosing who to interview. But they’ve also led to Resume Optimisation tools to help applicants beat our filters.
How can we avoid picking only the people who are best at gaming the system? How do we know we’re not missing our perfect applicants?
Now AI is taking the hiring process another leap forward. It’s speeding up the more process-driven elements and helping us select interviewees who are more likely to fit into our businesses.
And that means we need to re-examine two elements of that hiring process – the resume and the interview.
First, let's tackle the resume.
Here’s a challenge for you. Find five well-known businesses that don’t ask for a resume on their careers page. Difficult, isn’t it?
Now think about the resumes you’ve seen recently.
I’ve seen resumes that are well-constructed, professionally crafted prose. And others that are complete works of fiction.
You’re as likely to find glaring spelling mistakes, a messy layout, and a shameless plea to be considered as you are a concise summary, an attractive photo and carefully chosen keywords. If you’re really unlucky you get all of these in one “super-resume”.
A quick search on “How are resumes used?” reveals the astounding advice that applicants should “know the facts in detail, as they may be questioned” about them. That just confirms my suspicion that these documents are more like scripts than records of facts.
And, there’s one more thing that recruiters know about resumes, even if they don’t all admit it...
Not one of them is properly read when they’re selecting applicants for interview. Some recruiters give them only a six-second speed-read and many recruiters spend just under 20% of their time on a profile … looking at the picture!
Resumes are rarely used correctly or understood properly, by applicants or recruiters. They most certainly do not predict how successful an applicant is likely to be in a role. Instead they’re a minefield of potential bias: year of graduation (age bias), name (racial / gender / identity bias), experience in a similar business (confirmation bias), and so on.
So isn’t it better to put some truly intelligent AI for HR to work instead?
I was astonished to see that 96 per cent of senior HR leaders understand the benefits of using artificial intelligence in their HR and talent functions. But there’s a big gap between recognising the benefits and reaping them.
The canny HR leaders who are already adopting AI techniques will have a head start on their slower rivals.
Some more traditional HR tech providers have evolved their recruitment tools, presenting them as predictive. However, they’re more likely to be creating profiles of your better staff and matching these profiles to the external candidate market, not predicting how they will perform.
Instead, the new wave of HR tech uses well-constructed algorithms, created using a business’s performance data, to provide an unbiased shortlist of candidates far more likely to succeed within the business once hired.
The algorithm can’t be misled by optimisation techniques, personal feelings or prejudice. Instead it uses objective data, science and evidence to find the people who are most likely to be a good fit and perform. For this role, in this business. And it will help uncover applicants we might have otherwise overlooked when their resume didn't match our expectations.
The better solutions work by identifying the defining characteristics of the whole performance group within a business (superstars through to under-performers) and then predicts where external applicants will sit on your performance scale once/if hired.
These advanced solutions then go further via validation reports to prove their better predictions are turning into better new hires. They then use Machine Learning to ensure each unique model continues to learn more about the performance of each business, further improving its predictive power over time.
These two additional steps mean that whilst us humans are still required to make the final hiring decision, we will get better results for our applicants and our businesses. Maybe that’s where the resume might still have a role – as the frame for some reasonable high-level questions to help us understand the person in front of us in more depth, once they’ve got through the first stage.
The most sophisticated algorithms are already outperforming humans in the selection and identification of suitable candidates – and by that I mean candidates who go on to become productive, valuable and loyal employees.
So, what would you rather have?
- A shortlist of candidates chosen because of what they’ve selected to include in (and omit from) their resume?
- A shortlist of candidates you know are likely to do well in your workforce, because they've been chosen using statistically-proven, company-specific performance drivers validated by behavioural science?
Not that tricky a question, is it?
And very easy to see how, with the advent of AI for HR, resumes will soon be as much a part of recruitment as faxes and Rolodex.