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Corporate Talent & Inclusion

How AI is helping employers win the war for talent

Natalie Runyon  Director of Enterprise Content and Talent, Culture & Inclusion Strategist in Market Insights for the Thomson Reuters Institute

Natalie Runyon  Director of Enterprise Content and Talent, Culture & Inclusion Strategist in Market Insights for the Thomson Reuters Institute

With the war for top talent heating up, many companies may need to embrace updated AI-driven technology to turbo-charge the hiring solutions needed to compete

U.S. job openings raced to a new record high over the summer while layoffs rose moderately, and this tight labor market was noted by the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report, which showed “all Districts noted extensive labor shortages that were constraining employment and, in many cases, impeding business activity,” based on information collected on or before Aug. 30.

In response to the talent shortage, corporate recruiters out of necessity are returning to less automated methods to find people, according to a recent Harvard study.

Using AI throughout the hiring lifecycle

While technology has been used in the hiring process to produce efficiencies for about the last two decades, even these antiquated solutions are underperforming in the über competitive war for talent. Many companies, therefore, need to update their technology to compete and drive efficiency especially as the war for top talent continues. Some of these need enhancements include:

      • Candidate attraction — Innovative companies, such as Dexcom and Postmates, are using updated AI to ask potential employees to upload a resume or bio, then allowing the AI to match the bio with open roles. The metrics prove it is working because the visitor-to-application ratio at Dexcom has increased to 40%; and Postmates experienced a 30% increase in Black and Hispanic applicants and 91% increase for women applicants, according to Todd Raphael, Head of Content at eightfold.ai, a talent intelligence platform built to allow organizations to address talent acquisition and management in a holistic fashion.
      • Screening — Resume scanning is another interesting way AI is being used. Recruiters often have hundreds of resumes submitted for an open role, often spending just a few seconds on each to find a match or relying on outdated matching tools using laborious keyword methods. To solve this challenge, AirAsia, which is a multinational discount airline, added AI to its Workday system to identify people based on their skills and their potential with the required skills in those roles the airline was looking to fill. Its recruiting team saved about 60% of their screening time as a result.

Driving better outcomes by inverting the recruiting process

Companies that use AI-driven hiring solutions are turning the typical recruiting process on its head. For example, eightfold.ai’s customers are adopting the approach where they hire, promote, and move someone internally, find projects for people, and identify mentors for their employees all based on people’s skills, potential, and interests. In fact, eightfold.ai’s customers currently are looking at military veterans who may not have the same title as an open role but have every bit of the experience and skills to do the job.

“The AI shows recruiters, managers, and human resources people how hiring based on ‘adjacent skills’ opens up many opportunities for people, especially from underrepresented groups,” Raphael says, adding that this approach is improving the diversity of candidates in various company pipelines.

Before the Grace Hopper Celebration, for example, recruiters sent emails to all women engineers in its database of potential candidates. It also received an electronic book of 10,000 resumes and uploaded them. In just a few seconds, AI-driven recruiting tools analyzed the 10,000 resumes and produced a list of top prospects matched to open positions at specific employers, which was then used for outreach efforts.

Recommendations for competing in the war for talent

In addition to using modern technology, recruiting and hiring teams inside organizations should employ better methods amid the increased competition for talent. Here are some recommendations:

Don’t assume your next great hire is someone you don’t know — Poaching someone from a competitor may not be necessary because the perfect candidate could be within the networks of people the company already knows, such as current employees, alumni, referrals, and their former applicants. In many cases, these individuals are written off because the searches in the past did not work. Using the right AI can enrich the profiles of everyone in the company’s candidate networks because it shows the skills and experience that the person has added since the last time they interacted with the organization. Indeed, Raphael describes how one of eightfold.ai’s customers, a large company in the auto-parts industry, unlocked 1 million potential candidates, mostly former applicants. The company knew these applicants were in its database, but they were essentially locked away because of the limitations of the outdated technology the customers was using.

Take a pause before instituting lay-offs — Companies often lay off employees while there is an open role for which a departing employee could have been retrained. Recently, one medical device company about to go through reductions-in-force (RIF) exercises used AI to identify the adjacent skills of those employees impacted by the RIF, matching them with new roles. This allowed the company to triple the historical retention rate of those employees who were going to be displaced, notes Raphael.

Avoid unproductive interview questions that don’t correlate to the quality of a hire — Instead of such fruitless questions, use interviews to inquire about the skills a person has to do the job and their experience using those skills. AI can help hone these questions in advance by identifying the skills the potential employee should have based on the person’s title, former employers, and work history. These skills then can be confirmed during the interview.

By investing well in updated technology-based recruiting tools, organizations can increase their effectiveness during hiring, whether its during normal job market conditions or the über competitive one in which we find ourselves currently. In either situation, reliance on more modern hiring technology solutions will better address these challenges.

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