For the first time since the onset of the pandemic, the United States experienced a significant uptick in job availability. This resulted in a lot of new talent looking for their next opportunity. Employers across the country added a combined 943,000 jobs to the market in July 2021–the most significant gain in 11 months. This is a relief to the millions of unemployed people still reeling from the pandemic’s impact. However, that doesn’t mean it’s been an easy journey for job seekers. Competition is now greater, and candidates face new challenges and expectations as they submit their resumes.
So what is the leading source of the disconnect between the number of available jobs and the lack of hires? The answer: technology that does not align with an ultra-competitive environment.
It’s a virtual race to the bottom.
Job boards and automation have made it easier than ever to apply for a job. Recruiters have resorted to automation to weed out the noise, leading savvy candidates to keyword their resumes in a never-ending cycle. Something’s got to give. Speed is crucial to success for recruiting agencies. But to quote a high school driving tutorial, “speed kills” too.
For example, most staffing and recruitment agencies utilize software that relies predominantly on incomplete hiring algorithms. These can exclude candidates through assumptions and past “learnings” that may or may not apply to today’s job market. The main issue in using these matching tools is that they are removing many qualified candidates because of the keywords identified–or not identified–on their resumes. Nontraditional candidates then have no opportunity to advance through the process. They are unable to showcase their skillsets because an incomplete algorithm weeded them out as “a bad fit.” This is why many forward-thinking recruiters and hiring managers are reevaluating their recruitment systems so they can look beyond the resume.
The way we work is evolving.
Staffing agencies must adapt recruiting protocols to pandemic market conditions. They should remember that the nature of work continues to evolve with the pandemic. People want to leave current companies or pursue a different career path. Candidates want more flexibility in their work schedules, greater job fulfillment, or a role where they feel safer or more appreciated (financially and otherwise). Those considerations need to be considered, especially in the screening process.
While technology is part of the problem in hiring, it can also be a solution. Staffing agencies can lessen their dependence on automated scoring and outdated matching techniques present at the core of the technology. Or, they can move to scoring that gives insight behind the numbers so recruiters can make their own informed decisions. Agencies can reclaim control over the initial selection of their talent pool.
First, they must determine what kinds of biases are being created by incomplete hiring algorithms. And, also, how these restrictions are limiting opportunities for companies to hire valuable talent. Below are some examples of these restrictions.
- Education: Companies pass on candidates because of their degree types and from where they were earned. Rather, they should have their experience reviewed to see if it is comparable to the level of education required.
- Number of years in the industry: This comes into play when someone is changing careers. Some workers might not have direct experience in a role, but do have experience in the industry.
- Candidate background: Past work experience, titles, and the specific duties they performed should be considered.
- Employment gaps: There are times when a parent may have taken a few years off to raise a child. Or perhaps someone went back to school to learn a new trade. Uncover these details through nonbiased screening processes and interviews.
The solution beyond technology…
Recruiters can look further than a candidate’s resume to help eliminate these biases. The most valuable concept to incorporate into hiring efforts is “transferable velocity.” This is the probability of a candidate’s continued upward trajectory from one position or career to another. You can evaluate this by looking at the obvious and not-so-obvious benefits and value a person brings to the table. Look at a candidate’s whole story, including where they come from and where they can go next. These are the qualities that keywords and descriptions on a resume can’t showcase, and hiring algorithms can’t grasp.
The next step is to look at activities and initiatives the candidate pursues outside of work. This technique provides insight into a person’s level of transferable velocity. Interviewers will likely uncover what’s important to a candidate. They can also determine where they are willing to invest their time and money. Also, interviewers can learn how these passions may relate to the job the candidate is applying for. This is a good indication of what type of extra work a person is willing to put in to enhance their personal and career goals.
Another necessary element to consider is the need to invest in reskilling and upskilling. Make an effort to appeal to nontraditional candidates. Teach them new skills and techniques vital to the position they’re filling. This investment helps attract valuable talent and retain current team members. Reskilling/upskilling provides them with the tools and resources necessary to move up in the company or to another department. A person’s intrinsic motivation coupled with a robust training program can create the ideal situation for talent to thrive in a new work environment.
The future of work is here.
As businesses wade through hundreds to thousands of applicants during this hiring surge, they must look beyond the resume and move away from algorithms that are inherently regression-based models. Updating hiring and recruitment protocols is a great way to evolve and adapt to the challenges of the pandemic.