Graig Paglieri is the Group President at Randstad US, overseeing the company’s technologies and engineering lines of business.

The demand for advanced technology continues to grow with no signs of slowing down, even during Covid-19, and most certainly now that pressure resonates tenfold across every industry as our digital infrastructures were put to the test. Our current state has opened doors to not only innovate and expand our perspectives, but also to create room for potential risks as we seek to get the right talent, right now. 

As the group president of an HR, staffing and technology solutions company, I’ve had a front-row seat to all this disruption. It changed the way we’ve traditionally done business, and it’s also changing the way we hire.

With that in mind, how is this new reliance on tech transforming the hiring process? Where should companies leverage it to unlock the most value? And where are we going next as we head deeper into the tech-forward new normal? I have three takeaways so far.

1. It’s all about the candidate experience.

As organizations ramp up their sophistication with new tech tools, the candidate experience should always remain top of mind no matter the environment or virtual setting. Why?

For starters, applicants increasingly view the candidate experience as a proxy for the experience of working for a company. One survey from CareerBuilder, for example, found that 78% of job seekers believe the candidate experience reveals how much companies value their people. Meanwhile, in the 2015 CareerBuilder Candidate Behavior Study, 67% of respondents said they’re more likely to buy from a company that provides consistent updates throughout the application process. Maintaining this experience becomes even more important in our current climate when you consider the scarcity of face-to-face meetings. With less actual face time, the hiring experience you provide may take on more weight in candidates’ eyes and serve as a primary means of introduction to your company. 

Companies can use predictive analytics and automated tracking systems (ATS) to ensure these virtual job candidates get the communication they’re looking for before they go looking for it. Companies can look for systems that allow for customization and personalization when it comes to outreach and messaging (no more boilerplate notifications like “We’ve received your resume,” in other words). 

The bottom line is to maintain the human connection in the virtual experience. Using tracking systems like these, although they’re run by technology, can make each candidate feel more like a valued talent prospect rather than a number. Additionally, prioritizing the candidate experience can lead to a host of long-term improvements. Say you want to leverage your ATS database to rediscover candidates later, for example. Candidates who had a great experience the first time are far more likely to participate the second time around. 

2. AI can create bias in the hiring process.

One of the most interesting claims about AI-enabled tech is that it can help. 

I believe that AI-enabled tech has enormous potential to do good, but companies need to be extremely judicious about how they use it. Otherwise, as one HBR article (paywall) explains, it can just as easily reinforce bias as mitigate it. For this very reason, I welcome new legislation governing the use of AI in the hiring process. Guidance on this topic has already been introduced in Europe (where recruitment is classified as a “high-risk” application of AI), as has legislation domestically in states like Illinois. 

Obviously, this is an evolving topic, but there are a few takeaways that can help in a Covid-19 labor market. One is that employers won’t be able to outsource 100% of their hiring process to machines and expect that to effectively mitigate bias. A wiser approach is to rethink top-of-the-funnel processes. That’s an area where tech intervention certainly can help HR teams assess candidate pipelines without shrinking the pipeline in ways that perpetuate biases. HR teams, especially those strapped for time and resources in recent months, can lean a bit more heavily on smart technology to help place candidates much more quickly.

But whatever approach companies take, the path forward is likely going to be another iteration of one of my favorite themes: When humans and tech work strategically in tandem, we tend to drive the best outcomes. 

3. Automation can add value at key points in the hiring cycle.

With many HR departments working from home, it’s practically a necessity to ensure productivity stays high and to free up time by eliminating rote tasks. Therefore, utilizing a talent database to get qualified candidates sent straight to your inbox can free up the time your team spends sifting through a pile of mismatched resumes.

Yet automation can go further. Anecdotally, I see several areas where many companies could stand to make improvements through automation, including:

• Prescreenings and candidate assessments.

• Social profile aggregation.

• Interview scheduling.

• Redeployment.

• Resume filtering and scoring.

• Engaging with passive talent.

Technology can help surface candidates you may have overlooked using a manual process and help you identify which candidates will be receptive to changing jobs. From there, tech tools can help you manage your outreach efforts as well. 

Next Steps For Your Organization

The repercussions of Covid-19, along with new waves of tech, continue to disrupt the end-to-end hiring process. Rates of adoption can vary significantly from one industry to the next, but in my experience, most organizations have areas where they could improve. Most notably, they can look at:

• Enhancing the candidate experience.

• Combining AI with human insights to drive better hiring outcomes.

• Leveraging automation to realize value at key points in the hiring cycle.

Wherever your organization is in your journey today, start with these three areas, and you’ll likely see near-term improvements and reap the benefits on your bottom line. Just don’t try to measure success by asking, “How automated are my processes?” Instead, focus on how, where and why you’re applying tech to solve for business pain points and deliver great candidate experiences.


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