Why Too Much Innovation in HR Could Cost You a Job

There are technologies that candidates can use to turn their resume into gold. All it takes is some keywords and out comes the best resume for the job description! Learning the game is all you need to do. This is a sham.
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For the longest time, I have been a proponent of some of the new and innovative strategies that have been surfacing to more effectively source and screen candidates for job opportunities. My rationale has been that companies that use technology in new ways can discover greater efficiency in their sourcing and screening process and thus, recruit and hire better candidates. It's a simple equation. Spending less time doing paperwork means more time building real relationships. This should be the goal of high performance organizations. My thesis is that this will improve our economy by closing the massive gap between our nation's potential and its sad reality by placing the right people in the right jobs. But where do we draw the line? And where should automation stop and the actual person-to-person experience begin?

As most candidates are aware, the first step in the application process is the resume submission. Today candidates send their resumes to companies via Applicant Tracking Systems ("ATS") on the web. These applications can take hours to complete and when submitted, a candidate's resume is often subjected to keyword searches or more technically known as "Boolean strings" to help recruiters parse and sort through large numbers of resumes. But there's a catch. What if you're interested in breaking into a new field and the experience on your resume doesn't match the keyword search? And, what if there are certain skills that you have attained in your prior work experience or academic career that are actually transferrable to this new opportunity? Well, guess what? You are out of luck my friend. Your resume will be at the bottom of this virtual pile. But, alas, there is a way to increase your "page ranking." There are technologies that candidates can use to turn their resume into gold. All it takes is some keywords and out comes the best resume for the job description! Learning the game is all you need to do. This is a sham.

The next scary technology that I have seen is the social network grader. There is a recent proliferation of recruiting tools that aim to measure your credibility by measuring your social influence whether it be your Github code commits if you are a software engineer or translating your Klout or social media score to actual skills to recommend you as a potential candidate. Does this mean that if you spend more time at work actually doing your job and less time on Twitter and Facebook that you are actually worse off than your peers? This is what the new type of technologies are trying to communicate to recruiters. I fear that those who aren't on Twitter will never hold any influence in the new talent ecosystem. I mean, how will recruiters extrapolate your potential without a Klout score? If you're not scared yet, read on.

Finally, there's a new movement towards turning personalities into mathematical equations. I was recently asked if I could develop an algorithm to provide data to companies on a candidate's performance in a video interview. This one was a shocker. Is this the future of Human Resources? I have never heard a VP of Talent Acquisition say, "I wish I had a multivariable formula to measure someone's cultural fit." This is dangerous territory and I am not sure where it will stop.

The problem with "innovation" in HR today is that too many people are trying to "disrupt" a broken process without any knowledge of the industry. I see this all too frequently. These so-called innovators are trying to over-complicate a problem and are actually making it worse, not better. Maybe they should take a step back and realize that the problem isn't solved with another algorithm, Klout score or by the number of times you can type "analytical" in your resume. It's about transparency and communication early on in the application process and this is something that cannot and should not be mapped or plotted. It's about changing the entire process, not just adding technology. It is about the way we recruit with and without technology, the people we recruit to recruit and how companies communicate the composition of their culture. Only then can we begin to solve the problems plaguing this industry.

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