When Historic Unemployment Meets Overwhelmed Recruiters: Why You Need to Re-evaluate Your Tech Stack Today

Jacquelyn Soh
September 24, 2020

In the last months, deep cuts to hiring budgets and significant downsizing of recruitment functions have been the unfortunate reality for most organizations. As Talent Acquisition (TA) teams pause to rally and survey the aftermath, many realize that there is no ‘gritting your teeth’ until the disruption is over. Likely, we have been catapulted too far down the road to backtrack. Instead, TA should capitalize on this lull to evaluate where the gaps in current processes are, if any of the hastily implemented technology requires fine tuning as remote hiring stretches into the long term, and how robust and ready your tech stack is for the recovery that will undoubtedly come.

Can my tech stack manage large applicant volumes efficiently and fairly?

For a start, TA leaders need to consider that they will be facing a labor market slammed with historically high unemployment levels, and doing so with a much leaner team. Already, we have clients reporting up to a 700% increase in applicant volumes. How efficiently, and fairly, can your present system process all these applications? 

Organizations accustomed to receiving candidates by the thousands during regular seasons might have a head start. Nevertheless, bear in mind that as remote work increasingly becomes an option, jobseekers beyond your usual geographic scope will also be competing for the same roles. On the one hand, the flexible arrangements are a lifeline for those who live in non-metropolitan areas or who might have been homebound even pre-pandemic due to care-giving or other responsibilities. On the other hand, we run the risk of negating these upsides if overwhelmed recruiters unconsciously default to biased cues to qualify applicants. 

Technology, as we already know, can massively lift recruiters’ load by automating key stages of the hiring process. Chatbots can keep candidates engaged and informed by providing quick replies to FAQs and updates on application status. Video conferencing platforms, arguably the hottest tool in our socially-distanced reality, minimize the chore of scheduling and reviewing interview responses. And digital assessments, which measure aptitudes ranging from technical competency to cultural fit, can help recruiters whittle applications to a manageable number. 

In the case of pymetrics, enabling our clients to focus on the inherent cognitive, social, and emotional attributes over hard skills to identify high-potential candidates has proven invaluable to supporting employment. Large swathes of the working population, especially those in the hospitality and tourism industry, have been forced to apply to roles where their profile and experience might dramatically differ from a company’s typical hire. In light of this, antiquated techniques like CV reviews, which premises success on someone’s past experiences, are clearly no longer relevant. 

Importantly, fairness should always be a priority when it comes to evaluating AI-interfaced technology. Efficiency should not come at the expense of equitability, not when the stakes are extraordinarily high for so many jobseekers. Unbiased technology that satisfies both of these requirements exists, so there is no excuse to settle. If you are unsure of what to look out for, our Global Head of Consulting Psychology, Michelle Hancic, wrote a fantastic guide on the ‘3 questions to ask when choosing your next assessment provider’. The key is not to leap at every innovation offered in the market, but to thoughtfully figure out what will add to creating a simple and humane hiring experience. 

Can my tech stack identify internal talent consistently and accurately?

External hiring aside, TA will be remiss if they are not also considering technology that can expand visibility of the skills, capabilities and experience in their workforce. The value of internal talent supply to fill high-priority roles cannot be overstated. At the peak of COVID-19 for instance, overwhelmed hospitals had to rapidly redeploy segments of their workforce to mitigate the shortfall of staff in emergency departments. For the reasons that it is more cost-effective, drives better performance, and, bluntly put, is the right thing to do (as opposed to reactionary layoffs), demand for internal mobility will only accelerate from here on out.      

The key is not to leap at every innovation offered in the market, but to thoughtfully figure out what will add to creating a simple and humane hiring experience. 

Previously, internal recruiting for most organizations has been ad-hoc and employee driven. More than 50 percent of respondents in Deloitte’s 2019 Human Capital Trends Survey indicated that it was easier for employees to find a job outside than inside. What kind of technologies can we leverage to improve the discoverability of internal talent? Recognizing the shortening shelf life of hard skills, what kind of behavioral or soft skills data can we turn instead to guide employees to open roles? As we’ve seen in the last few months, people have the capacity to be trained into new functions regardless of their backgrounds, as long as aptitudes align. How can TA convince the business to invest more in reskilling? These are questions that pymetrics has been tackling with our Mobility Insights solution.

In the weeks following the initial outbreak, companies’ immediate priorities were understandably given to setting up employees to work from home and ensuring the business stays afloat. As we gain a surer footing and ease away from survival mode, we need to start thinking about the skills and capabilities that will be needed for the organization to revive, and even thrive in the long run. It is not only important, but also increasingly urgent, for TA to  re-evaluate pre-pandemic ways of identifying and acquiring talent. Tech stacks are not to be set and forgotten. The fact is, there is no better time than now to start diagnosing the gaps in your systems.

To learn more about our forward-looking TA solutions, we encourage you to explore our Solutions page here.