AI Can’t Fix Your Recruiting

Is your startup embracing artificial intelligence to solve its hiring problems? If so, you need to stop the insanity.

The technology isn’t ready and you don’t have the time to wait. Your future is now.

Every employer wants hiring to be easy and AI vendors are preying on this desperation by selling hope disguised as an algorithm. While there are current technologies that save time and effort, none of them can fix the reality that there are simply too many tech jobs and not enough qualified people to fill them.

AI recruiting solutions address the outdated realities of recruiting, the one when jobs were hard to find, and people were happy to have one. In those days, hundreds of people applied to every job posting, and employers could pick and choose. That was yesterday.

Today, tech professionals enjoy more career freedom than ever. They are the sellers in a sellers market and employers are adapting by investing in their cultures, bolstering employee engagement and promoting diversity. These are all good moves, but they will be easily undone by the naive belief that algorithms can build a team.

A hiring recommendation derived from a secret algorithm provided by anonymous data scientists who know nothing about your existing team is a prescription for disaster. Some formulae may, in fact, accelerate decisions. But, this doesn’t mean they make the best choices. If algorithmic matching was truly effective, dating sites would have unlocked the secrets of romantic bliss by now. Alas, there is no compelling evidence to suggest these matchmaking sites actually work.

Relying on software to make hiring decisions will prove to be costly in two ways that AI vendors don’t mention:

  • Good companies are built by leaders that own their hiring decisions. If you reduce their control over who makes the team, you marginalize their leadership which ultimately compromises your culture and retention. Besides, would you want to work for a manager that wasn’t 100% accountable for hiring you?
  • Team chemistry is the organizational glue that fuels employee engagement, yet AI puts the emphasis on jobs, skills and tasks; not people and teamwork. Every AI recommendation increases the risk of turnover and employee conflict.

As a veteran of the tech sector, I’ve seen the effectiveness of job postings fall over time. Talent selection has become a challenge that requires authentic intelligence in order to see talent that others missed. I’m not sure that data scientists and algorithms can rise to this challenge, at least not for the foreseeable future.

If you insist on testing an AI recruiting tool for your company, you should at least wait until the bigger companies have verified and validated it. They can afford to make hiring mistakes, your small team cannot.

As I see it, even if AI turns out to be the ultimate recruiting solution, it won’t do much for early stage companies. Just imagine the market if every company were to choose talent based on an algorithm. There’s a very good chance the math would recommend the very same (obvious) stars for every employer. And that will be the precursor for bidding wars to be won by Apple, Google, Facebook and the other tech darlings.

So what should you do to improve your hiring? Do what Steve Jobs did with 80% of his time: invest it in recruiting. If he saw the value of handpicking talent, then you should too. A good way to get started is to stop using the inane interview questions that everyone else does. Turn your interviews into authentic conversations. You will begin to see the talent that the market missed.

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