AI: The End of the Amazing Employee...?
Recruiters love talking about, searching for, and finding "purple squirrels." To a recruiter, the purple squirrel is that mythical employee who is meets every criteria a hiring manager has asked for. This usually includes that rare mix of expertise in a specific area of business, great interpersonal skills, a self-starter attitude, loyalty, and acceptable salary requirements. Sometimes, the recruiter even finds one.
The only problem is, even when recruiters find them, companies aren't good at hiring purple squirrels. Given the choice between a true purple squirrel and someone who has all the typical abilities and typical shortcomings that come from a typical, linear career progression, the typical hiring manager feels safer hiring the typical employee. Up close, purple squirrels feel too unfamiliar and risky.
And AI is about to exacerbate this problem big time.
Machine-learning is already used in the hiring process: companies use software to read résumés and automatically reject applicants who don't have the right skills, as determined by pre-set criteria set by the hiring manager, talent acquisition teams, and ongoing data analysis done by the system.
It doesn't work. The first thing a recruiter will tell a job applicant is to tweak her résumé before submitting it to the company's system so it doesn't get auto-rejected.
A system that works doesn't need to be gamed like this.
AI won't fix this problem. Just the opposite: it will accelerate it. When people favor linear career paths, machines follow suit—just as they've done in the past. What starts off as AI promoting a "logical" or "sensible" career progression—the noble idea that AI can eliminate bias against purple squirrels—will quickly turn into AI preventing purple squirrels from getting through the door.
This has to happen, because it's how most people think... no matter where AI starts, it ultimately learns to mirror how most people think.
Which means that the best thing TA can do to get purple squirrels into their organizations doesn't have anything to do with technology, but the opposite—it has to do entirely with humanity. It's going to take a whole lot of high touch, non-scalable, human-to-human, trust-building interactions with hiring managers to make sure that the AI bots learn the right behaviors.
The run to technology won't stop, and I'm not advocating for that. What I am advocating for is that talent acquisition build the relationships, with both hiring managers and AI providers, to get in front of this trend line, now.