On a recent podcast for LAXTechRecruit, the host tweeted I claimed that “AI for Hiring” was the cause of turnover. I didn’t actually say that. I said as it’s currently envisioned it would make turnover worse.
I contend that the birth of job boards 25 years ago made it far too easy to change jobs whenever things got a little difficult at work. That’s why I suggested that the simplest way to reduce turnover and improve quality of hire was to put duct tape over the apply button.
It doesn’t take a lot of insight to attribute the increase in turnover over the past 25 years to the idea that most people change jobs for the wrong reasons. For some proof, just consider this report from Gallup indicating that only 30% of the workforce is fully engaged. According to Gallup, this results in a $1 trillion problem. A more recent survey we conducted on how job satisfaction impacts job hunting status validates the Gallup study. These results are summarized in the graphic.
The problem is that most “AI for Hiring” initiatives are focusing on making this fundamentally flawed process more efficient. Letting more people switch jobs for the wrong reasons will worsen things, not improve them.
In the olden days (i.e., pre-1994) it took a lot of time and effort to change jobs. One way was networking or working with a staffing agency. The job board equivalent at the time was finding a few interesting jobs in the newspaper classified ads, mailing some resumes and waiting.
Due to the effort involved in changing jobs, it wasn’t worth it for short-term or temperamental reasons. Job boards eliminated this natural cooling off period allowing people to switch jobs more quickly whenever experiencing a few tough days at the office.
The unintended consequences were not pretty: success and job satisfaction became problematic when changing jobs to relieve short-term pain became more important than career growth. That’s why I advise job seekers to avoid make long-term career decisions using short-term information.
Current “AI for Hiring” initiatives are being developed to allow people and companies to make these bad decisions faster under the assumption that there’s a significant correlation between the skills and experiences listed on a person’s resume with those listed on the job description. Having worked on over one thousand different hiring projects over the past 40 years, I contend it’s minimal.
The Three Levels of Good Career Decision-making Are Ignored
It’s important to recognize that matching the strongest candidates with their best career options is not a simple two-dimensional problem. It’s not even a three-dimensional problem. Instead, it’s a series of two- and three-dimensional problems spread over different time frames that need to be properly sequenced in order to yield superior hiring results.
The initial step or decision is made by the recruiter who first develops a talent pool of potential candidates to determine who should be considered, including those who haven’t applied. The next decision is made by the candidate who decides whether to respond to the recruiter’s message or to formally apply to the job posting. Next in the sequence of decision-making is the hiring manager who decides whom to interview and ultimately hire. Throughout this process the candidate has the opportunity to opt out at any stage in the process or whether to accept an offer or not.
This is a very complicated decision-making process, far more involved than the mere matching of skills and experiences. This is especially true when the strongest and most diverse candidates have a different mix of skills and experiences than listed on the typical job description. In fact, this different mix is what makes them the best: they learn faster, get promoted more often and get assigned stretch projects ahead of their peers.
Aside from the sequence of decision-making, the type of decision-making is also different. For passive, diverse and more discriminating candidates, making a long-term career decision is not a transactional process. It takes more time, equivalent to the discovery process involved in selling and buying any customized product or service. Ignoring this group makes no sense, but this is what happens when AI systems or recruiters filter candidates on their skills, experiences and compensation needs before the person even knows what the job entails.
Despite the hoopla, until “AI for Hiring” can properly address these issues, it will never become the promised silver bullet. Until then, to hire better people start with better jobs and more exploratory conversations with people who would naturally see your opening as a potential career move.
Lou Adler (@LouA) is the CEO of Performance-based Hiring Learning Systems, Inc. His latest book, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013) provides hands-on advice for job-seekers, hiring managers and recruiters on how to find the best job and hire the best people.