Three talent acquisition experts offer advice on using intelligent automation to find (and keep) top talent.

“A mentor of mine said, why don’t you use your initials, which are conveniently A.L. So, I would submit my resume as Al Hood and people thought I was a man. And I would get interviews.” — Angela Hood, founder and CEO of ThisWay Global

In an interview on Smart Talks with IBM with Malcolm Gladwell, Angela Hood discusses how intelligent automation technology can make it easier than ever to connect with the best candidates for a more creative and competitive workforce.

The unique nature of today’s job market—with nearly two available jobs for every person looking but not enough job seekers with the skills required to do the work—is driving employers to adopt new strategies for acquiring talent. One of those strategies is looking to passive talent (i.e., candidates not actively seeking a new position) to build a relationship with people that have the required skill sets. Hood advises that when you talk to these individuals, you need to be able to say two things:

  • We use the best technology to identify you because you and your skills are unique, and we want you to come work for us.
  • When you get here, we’re going help you automate the parts of your job that you’ve never really enjoyed before, because we want you to dig into the areas you’re passionate about.

Rethinking the recruitment process

Jennifer Carpenter, vice president of talent acquisition and executive search at IBM, recognizes that there’s never been a better time to rethink the recruitment process—a process where hiring managers and recruiters are mired in administrative tasks while the search for exceptional talent becomes increasingly competitive.

In “Let’s rethink recruiting,” Carpenter and Wendy Wick, a global talent acquisition expert at IBM, address the question: If you were to design the recruitment process for a new company, what would you automate to help HR acquire top talent?

Here are four best practices for improving recruitment with the help of intelligent automation:

  1. Shorten the application process: “The first thing I would do is rethink why I even need a resume,” Carpenter says. Most organizations collect applications via online portals where candidates are required to input a lot of information. “That can take as much as five minutes—and in today’s marketplace, those five minutes will result in too few applications,” says Wick. The improved approach, especially for jobs that are paid hourly, is to forgo a lengthy registration process and shift to what Wick calls a “soft application.” This could include asking candidates to enter their name, contact information and answer up to five custom questions, all via text message.
  2. Ask only what you need to know: “I believe in conversation starters, not deal breakers. By asking for the right information from the candidate at the right time—and keeping the experience light—you treat them more respectfully,” says Carpenter. Asking candidates to provide relevant and not excessive information shows you value their time. Wick shares this best practice example: Candidates for an hourly warehouse position are asked whether they can lift 40 pounds and if they’re willing to work nights and weekends. They fill out the application in less than 90 seconds and, with the help of automation, are directed to schedule an interview or talk to the right recruiter for follow-up. Wick says that when this effort is applied to 50% of an organization’s job openings, the recruiting cycle can be shortened by as much as 21 days for hourly wage jobs.
  3. Approach repetitive tasks like a retailer: Carpenter says, “If I can go on my phone and book a hair appointment, I’m expecting to engage with organizations as easily.” Scheduling a job interview can be frustrating for all parties involved. Organizations can look to their favorite online booking experiences for inspiration and develop a similar experience for contacting candidates and scheduling interviews.
  4. Fully understand your current state: “Often, we think we need to automate something because there’s a lot of noise around it,” Carpenter says. “What you initially thought you’d automate might change as you observe how your team is actually operating.” For example, recruiters rarely re-engage candidates who don’t get hired, and according to Wick, “62% of hourly job seekers don’t hear back after applying for a position.” These are missed opportunities to re-recruit individuals who have already expressed interest.

Transforming the recruitment process with intelligent automation

Once an organization can fully observe its current state, it’s easier to identify which intelligent automation solutions can reduce administrative burdens like gathering application data or scheduling interviews. As Wick says, “Imagine having a daily digest sent to recruiters with a rundown of that day’s scheduled interviews and other top priorities. That immediately helps with prioritization.” Intelligent automation solutions, such as digital workers, are being employed to automate dull and repetitive tasks, giving recruiters more time to do the job they were hired to do: act as advisors to the business.

“Digital workers, also known as digital employees, are software-based labor that can independently execute meaningful parts of complex, end-to-end processes using a range of skills. The digital worker operates side-by-side with the human employee, performing tasks like collecting documentation from customers or generating reports.” — The Business Leader’s Guide to Digital Worker Technology for Improving Productivity

Get a digital worker

ThisWay Global’s partnership with IBM includes the use of IBM watsonx Orchestrate, a digital worker that’s enabling her company to simplify her customers’ hiring process.

Hood likens Orchestrate to a “concierge” and describes using it like this: “You can have all of your job descriptions living inside of Box. And you’re like, ‘Oh, I need to find someone for this job.’ Orchestrate goes into Box, grabs the job description, sends that into ThisWay’s system, and ThisWay automatically surfaces it up to 300 qualified people from diverse organizations. Then Orchestrate automatically sends out communication to the candidates you’re interested in.”

With the help of Orchestrate, recruiters don’t have to spend time figuring out from where to source candidates and how they’re going to reach out to diverse organizations.  A process that typically took three weeks has been reduced to roughly three to four minutes, giving recruiters the time to do what they want to do—connect with people.

One of the unexpected benefits of the technology is how it opened communication between hiring managers and recruiters inside the same company, in effect un-siloing the work.

Hood describes the level of innovation in intelligent automation technology as “absolutely incredible,” and encourages companies to try something—be a part of it. “We’re going to see massive innovation over the next 5 to 10 years… and you don’t want to miss that. You don’t want to say, ‘Oh, I sat on the sidelines because I had a bad experience a decade ago.’”

Companies need to find talent. Talent wants to be found. Now the technology is here to help make recruiting more efficient and effective for everyone. “It’s time to delightfully disrupt this space,” says Carpenter.

Listen to Jennifer Carpenter answer the question: “What if you were to design the recruitment process for a new company? What would you automate to help HR find (and get) the best talent, always?”

Listen to the full interview – Combatting Hiring Bias – with Angela Hood, Malcolm Gladwell and Jacob Goldstein


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