Replace CV with AI to find best job applicants - comment

Nik Plevan, founder and MD of eTalent Recruitment Software, says SMEs could be hampered if they can’t automate finding people with the right soft skills.

Employers will rely on AI to sift through hundreds of job applicants amid rising unemployment. Picture: contributed.

Covid-19 will have a greater effect on our economy and how we live and work than any disruptions in the last 200 years, including both world wars.The one thing that seems absolutely clear is that the economy over the next decade will be far less predictable than any since the 1980s.

In an environment with that much uncertainty as an ongoing feature, literally for years, the most adaptable firms will be the ones that not only survive but thrive – looking for, spotting and reacting to the changes in their markets.

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For them to be as adaptable as required, new psychological traits will be needed of leaders and team members in the post-Covid-19 “blended workplace” where more of them will be working from home for large portions of their weeks, Zooming in for meetings, pitches and client calls.

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In this new era, “soft skills” such as active listening will be more important than hard skills, which are easily taught. This will be especially so in the service industry, on which the UK and Scotland rely to a greater degree than any other G7 nation – making up 73.9 per cent of Scotland’s economy and 79 per cent of the UK as a whole.

A LinkedIn survey of 60 senior executives and HR directors by eTalent asked what they thought was the single most important “soft skill” for a high-performing homeworker. Adaptability came first with 42 per cent, followed closely by work ethic on 35 per cent, resilience got 17 per cent of votes and organisation got 7 per cent.

So now you know what to look for when you start the search for new people to join your highly-adaptable “dream team” for the post-Covid world.But how are you going to identify and verify the applicants with the greatest amount of this key skill among the tsunami of applications you’ll get when you place your job ad?

That’s not an exaggeration – the 1980s-like mass unemployment we will see once the UK government’s furlough scheme ends in October will mean all organisations advertising posts will be swamped with applications. I recently saw a report that 484 people applied for two positions at a pub!

In the face of numbers like that, interviewee selection alone will be a massive challenge for any organisation. And a Herculean task for small and medium-sized enterprises. Delaying them by serious amounts of time in just finding the people worth interviewing, before they can select the best for the role and continue their rebound.

Filtering problems

This will be made worse by the way most job sites work now – failing to filter out people who are entirely unqualified for a role. One is particularly bad – as it allows applicants to select several vacancies and then apply for all of them with a single click. The result is employers are often faced with dozens of applications and CVs to review before realising only a handful are from serious, committed and qualified candidates.

So how will you ensure you get the talent you need quickly, easily, ethically and without making costly recruitment mistakes? CVs have been seen as the recruitment tool of choice for many decades – every jobseeker will have at least one CV to attach to their application and almost all employers still ask applicants to provide one.

Despite this, all the available evidence shows that simply using the information in a CV to select a short list for interview is no guarantee of identifying the best candidate. In fact, it will probably do the opposite and result in wasted time interviewing unsuitable applicants.

Before the pandemic, we at eTalent were already using psychometrics to help companies identify the soft skills required in the roles they were recruiting for and then assessing those soft skills in applicants for their jobs.

In a post-Covid-19 world where home working will play a greater part, while many of those soft skills will remain the same, there’ll also be other traits required solely to be able to deal with the demands of homeworking and the new uncertainties of life in general.

Those demands mean all organisations will have to use automated psychometrics using artificial intelligence (AI) to verify and sift applicants for the right interviewees who possess the required soft skills in an amount of time that won’t hold back their recovery.

Both applicant numbers and the need to find the right soft skills for each role means AI-powered candidate sifting is essential to avoid costly delays in the bounceback of firms, organisations and Scotland.

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