20 years of recruiter technology: This is progress?

We’ve come a long way. Sort of.

As illustrated by the infographic above, the last 2 decades have seen lots of growth in the recruiter technology space, with automated solutions popping up to solve problems in every stage of the hiring process.

It’s true that the job hunt has become less soul-crushing over the last 20 years thanks to innovations like social recruiting and candidate analytics. But if we look at the big picture– as in the macroeconomic state of employment and hiring today– it becomes clear that we really don’t have much to show for these two decades of so-called progress in recruiter technology.

52% of Americans are unhappy at work. The quit rate is steadily climbing again, and only dips significantly during recessions. 30% of employed people are actively seeking other jobs, and that number is rising over time. Perhaps it’s gotten easier since the ‘90s for people to find jobs, but it’s gotten more difficult for people to find jobs they want.

This isn’t the fault of improvements like applicant tracking or workflow automation; it’s the fault of deeper flaws in the conventional hiring process. These past 2 decades of recruiter tech advancements have served as band-aids for an obsolete approach to recruitment which is riddled with inefficiency and unreliability– an approach which plops down candidates in jobs where they’re unsatisfied, unengaged, and underperforming.

Entrenching the resume system instead of fixing it

The resume has been an institution for so long that it’s difficult to look at it critically. We ask job-seekers to describe their productive capabilities in 750 words or less. That means a lot of summarization, but it’s a challenge most competent workers can handle.

However, the resume system starts to feel less credible when you consider that the average hiring manager or recruiter looks at those 750-ish words for about 6 seconds before passing judgement on the person who wrote them.

As you might suspect, evidence is emerging that a 6 second glance at 750 words is simply not enough information for anyone to make an accurate judgement about a candidate’s quality– not even agency recruiters. Innovations like resume parsing and database software have helped make the resume system more organized, but they don’t fix the fact that a cursory look at a 2 page document is an unreliable and arbitrary way to evaluate a potential hire.

Hi-tech doesn’t mean fast

You’d think that the blink-of-an-eye resume review process would make hiring fast, and that recruiter technology-enabled work automation would make it even faster. However, a look at the data shows that hiring processes haven’t sped up over time. On average, they’ve actually gotten considerably slower in recent years, according to Glassdoor’s 2015 report on hiring duration.

Glassdoor’s research notes that hiring is taking an exceptionally long time in cities experiencing rapid private-sector growth, such as HireKeep’s native Washington, DC (34.4 days), and San Jose, CA (24.8 days). The researchers attribute the slowdown to intensified screening and qualification procedures for candidates.

This evokes a profound question– why does our society use a hiring process which gets more convoluted and thus slower as technology moves forward? The conventional resume/application hiring process is like a junky old car which we’ve been fixing and upgrading for decades– there comes a time when it makes economic sense to get a new car that actually works instead. That new car is called the matching process.

What hiring tech should be

A better hiring process would be a fast-moving system which focuses on building strong, lasting relationships between companies and qualified candidates. At first, these two qualities might seem totally at odds with each other; conventional logic states that a more thorough hiring process would be slower. However, the dismal state of hiring today should indicate that the time for conventional logic has passed.

A highly-automated, data-driven job matching process is possible, and it can create happier, more engaged, and more productive workforces than conventional hiring. We just need more data than a 2 page resume.

In a matching system like ours, a candidate fills out a short evaluation which measures not only their skillset, performance and experience, but also their culture, vision and values. Once these candidate’s attributes have been quantified through a survey, that candidate can be matched to their ideal workplace through a placement algorithm. This way, hiring technology isn’t just helping people find jobs; it’s helping people find jobs that feel right to them.

Companies also stand to benefit from accounting for social fit in hiring. Startups which have built their teams through HireKeep’s matching system enjoy a 97% annual retention rate, far above the macroeconomic average. It is fairly well-known that the average company spends about 2 years’ salary to replace a hire who doesn’t stay long due to a professional or social mismatch. Companies can protect themselves from these sky-high replacement costs by using a matching process which builds more engaged and loyal relationships with new employees.

It’s really quite simple. Focus on getting people jobs they actually want, and hiring will get much easier for everyone.