Editor’s note: In which SHRM online Making HR Tech Easy Column Work Tech Expert Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP, will make complex HR tech understandable for all HR professionals because a high level of HR tech proficiency is critical to advancing your HR career.
There is a fundamental problem with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). It’s not that they don’t work. They work very well for the process they were designed for.
For the most part, ATS do a very good job of helping organizations hire employees – especially if you actually follow the process the ATS was designed for. Too many of us break our ATS by trying to adapt the software to our poor hiring processes and then we say the ATS doesn’t work! But it’s not the fault of the ATS.
What modern ATSs are not well designed for is processing hourly, high-volume applicants at scale and speed.
Basically, if we think about how most talent acquisition processes work, it goes something like this:
Step 1: A candidate finds your position and applies.
Step 2: This application is accepted by the ATS and it is waiting for a recruiter to take some kind of action regarding this application.
Step 3: An action takes place. This action could consist of conducting a screening, conducting an interview, conducting an assessment, etc. This can be done immediately, but in most cases there is a time gap. Depending on the position, this period of time can be hours or days – or indefinitely. Hello black hole.
Step 4: Based on research, less than half of your applicants will be dispatched. But that means about half won’t, so that’s the next step.
Step 5: We, the hiring manager and talent acquisition professionals, make a decision whether to hire or not.
Honestly, this works pretty well for most white-collar jobs. It absolutely doesn’t work on the hourly side, and that’s the main reason we’ve seen massive growth in the recruiting tech space centered around high volume hourly hiring tech. Some of the biggest players in this space include Paradox, Humanely, Fountain, Dalia, Talkpush, Workstream, Grayscale, and Harri. I’m sure there are others, but you can see how quickly these technologies have come to solve our high-volume hiring problems.
How are these technologies changing the hiring process outlined above? Simply put, they automate some of the steps using artificial intelligence. Yes, robots can hire hourly workers faster than humans! Make no mistake, these are not your average chatbots. The AI continues to evolve very quickly, and the more adjustments it can tweak, the better it gets.
[SHRM members-only HR Q&A: What is artificial intelligence and how is it used in the workplace?]
The power is in the immediacy
Unlike our salaried process, which can take weeks and months, hiring on an hourly basis can take as little as minutes or hours, or you risk losing those employees to any number of other jobs they can apply for and in some cases to work immediately. Your ability to instantly hire candidates 24/7/365 hourly is paramount to your success in hiring these people.
Using AI technology designed to hire large numbers of hourly applicants, the process works more like this:
Step 1: Hourly candidate finds your job.
Step 2: Unlike our process for employees, the AI then guides the candidate through a condensed application process, live, via chat and text, including a quick assessment and scheduling an interview.
Step 3: The interview process takes place.
Step 4: The decision to hire or not is made by people informed by technology.
Step 5: Onboarding is driven by the same AI process.
This entire process can be completed in hours and days, depending on how quickly you can interview. Some organizations eliminate the interview altogether and only use the assessment and AI screen to make a hiring decision. In these cases, hourly workers receive job offers within minutes.
Does the technology work?
Like most technologies you will implement, this depends on your definition of “work”. Most companies have no idea how many applicants they are losing per hour because they force these applicants to apply through the same process as employees. When an hourly applicant reaches this process, most will drop out. Aptitude Research finds that up to 65 percent of candidates drop out of the process if they don’t use conversational AI technology.
Can you use 65 percent more applicants? I would say that most companies would agree that this is a big win when it comes to determining the success of high-volume hiring technology.
Are there any disadvantages?
As with any automation, you lose some of the human touch. Depending on your employment brand, this could be a negative. Many candidates love to use AI to apply and screen, but some don’t. Some will want to speak to a real person.
Also, this technology usually works best for unskilled and low-skilled jobs. Once you start using it with slightly more professional jobs, candidates tend to think that automation feels impersonal.
One company, Vette, is trying to fill that gap. In many ways similar to high-volume hiring technology, Vette allows the candidate to select an “Interview Now” button and be immediately connected to a professional screener who screens each candidate based on a script developed by the organization. The screen collects all the necessary information, asks all the knockout questions and based on the data makes the decision to move the candidate forward in the process.
The hiring manager then receives an email with all the data and responses from the screen – along with an audio recording of the actual screen. These audio files are very powerful information for hiring managers to listen to in their free time, especially when they have the task of wearing a million hats and incorporating hiring into their daily workload.
Like the conversational AI, the Vette screeners are open 24/7 for screening, so you can ensure that an hourly candidate applying at 9pm on a Saturday night can actually speak to a live person who has your work brand sells and earns an instant personal connection with your candidate. Companies are also beginning to use conversational AI with a screening aid like Vette to fully automate their hourly hiring process.
If you’re hiring a few hourly workers a week, a lot of this technology doesn’t make sense. But when you hire hundreds and thousands, this level of technology gives you a competitive advantage in your industry and market.
These technologies are fairly new to the market, with most being less than five years old. This means that this technology will evolve very quickly and I expect massive advances in how these tools work. While they can all help you right away, we should expect them to keep getting better and cheaper as technology advances.
Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP, is the CEO of HRUTech.com, the author of The talent fix (SHRM, 2018) and a popular speaker at HR conferences. You can read his daily newsletter below timsackett.com.