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2021-09-07

Automated Hiring Software is NOT "Mistakenly" Rejecting Millions of Viable Job Candidates

"Automated hiring software is mistakenly rejecting millions of viable job candidates" (The Verge)

My first reaction upon reading this headline was the thought "Does this surprise anyone?"

I know that the companies marketing this sort of software claim that they help you find the right candidate for the right position, but this has always been obvious bullshit and everyone knows it. If managers use that argument it's easier to get the funding for buying this sort of software in the first place. It's a defence they use to justify what they really want: to reduce the pool of applicants to a manageable amount which statistically includes some candidates that are good enough for the job.

There's an old anecdote about a recruiter sitting down to find a candidate for a job among a pile of hundreds of resumes, and starting by unceremoniously dropping half of them in the trash bin and saying "Those were out of luck, and we certainly don't want a candidate who's out of luck."

Imagine a manager or recruiter telling their boss that "I can't go through all these candidates... It's just too much. Is it okay if I just discard all but 25? I mean, among those 25 applicants there's bound to be at least one that can perform the job, right?" Do you think said boss would say yes? How would they justify that if the proposed goal is to find the best candidate?

But we're all aware that going through 250 resumes for every single position is time-consuming. To make it efficient you'd need several recruiters sitting down together to sift through the candidates and gradually reduce the pool by comparing them to each other, and possibly taking time to contact some of them and ask follow-up questions or for clarifications around things in the resumes.

And time is money. So we all silently agreed to uphold the lie that we're looking for the best possible candidate. Instead we set up some software that more or less randomly filters out the unlucky ones so that the burden on our managers and recruiters will be more manageable. All the while maintaining the mirage of a fair and inclusive recruitment process.

-- CC0 Björn Wärmedal