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Volume XI, Number 136

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Launching Advanced Talent Acquisition Tools to Tackle Global Employer Recruiting Challenges in The Wake of COVID-19

Elite recruiters like AC Lion are solving the workforce equation by employing cutting edge strategies that combine the hands-on consultative approach with breakthrough artificial intelligence (AI) to facilitate the efficient and targeted placement of talent.

The impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the global workforce cannot be overstated. As it made its way west, employers in different regions of the world felt the undulating effects of quarantines, closures, and social distancing to different degrees and at different times. This was particularly true in the United States, with its dizzying overlay of federal and state regulations, and executive orders, all further complicating the task of balancing health concerns with re-opening businesses and managing the national workforce.

The pandemic initially created mass redundancies, as many employers, especially those in hard-hit industries like travel, accommodation, and entertainment, were forced to part with talented employees they would normally retain. This sudden pressure to downsize created a glut of available talent composed of the most qualified pool of workers in recent memory. Faced with an uncertain future, these candidates were highly motivated to secure new employment right away.

Embracing this uncertainty and bridging the gap between global employers and employees are the world’s leading talent acquisition specialists. Amidst the initial massive disruption, Alan Cutter, Chief Executive Officer of AC Lion, a Forbes Top Executive Search firm, discovered that traditional enterprises were willing to take calculated gambles and invest in the suddenly available digital experts and the new technologies they could leverage.

According to Cutter, “This meant companies could suddenly pick up unexpected and exceptional talent. As a result, they found themselves quickly pivoting from their offline models to online service models, subscription, or software-as-a-service; or from an ‘in-person’ experience to virtual, all because of the interim change agents they were able to pick up, who could implement advanced technologies.”  

Cutter found that, in addition to creating new efficiencies, the application of AI to the recruitment process added transparency and accountability to recruiter and employer diversity recruiting efforts. The proliferation of video engagement and strategic use of advanced algorithms now allows employers to track candidates and create reports to confirm maximum diversity participation in their pipelines. This protects employers from claims of conscious or unconscious bias by removing the human element from the search, and ultimately enables them to build better workforces. The value of this approach for employers is immense.

Top recruiters are now using a number of innovative approaches and transformative tools, such as webinars, video interviewing (VI), and diversity and inclusion AI.

WEBINARS

The abrupt switch from in-person interactions to seemingly endless Zoom webinars has certainly caused its share of screen-time burnout. But the executive search firms that adapted quickly found webinars a highly effective bridge for nurturing old relationships and building new ones, keeping clients abreast of ever-changing market conditions, and providing content tailored to the new dynamics.

VI has become indispensable and is likely to persist well beyond COVID-19.

In addition to the obvious savings generated from eliminating the cost of travel and accommodation, webinars allow recruiters to reach employers and cooperate in formulating survival and growth strategies, and developing best hiring and retention practices in a virtual world. They have also helped introduce new tech, such as diversity and inclusion solutions, to internal human resources teams. Now taken for granted, webinars helped pave the way for deeper relationships, critical talent acquisition, and marked changes in company hiring culture.

VIDEO INTERVIEWING

With the initial lockdown effectively eliminating in-person meetings, VI became the primary medium for evaluating candidates worldwide. At first, most employers hoped the pandemic would abate and resisted hiring strictly from virtual interviews. But, as the virus persisted and employers needed to find candidates, it quickly became obvious that VI was mutually beneficial to both interviewer and potential employee. As a result, it has become indispensable and is likely to persist well beyond COVID-19. Although less well known than Zoom-type environments, VI technology has surged over the last six months and its adoption offers several material advantages.

PRE-RECORDED INTERVIEWS 

Pre-recorded interviews enable candidates to review and reformulate their answers to questions before presenting them. Companies avoid huge costs in personnel time and those dreaded initial screening calls. Employers and recruiters can set time limits on answers, or even on how many times the candidate can change their answer.

Tech solutions, like New York-based Apploi, allow employers to test candidates’ soft skills via video, audio, and writing assessments, and verify hard skills through multiple choice and yes/no questions.

LIVE RECORDED EXPERIENCE 

Although Zoom can record, top-line VI technology not only records, but also transcribes the interview. Some solutions like Tribepad, a platform offered out of the United Kingdom, offer live VI, during which the technology can immediately change the language of the candidate and the interviewer to allow for highly effective, multi-national global communication. Tribepad will soon be releasing a live VI version that will translate and transcribe in 15 languages, allowing for a massive amount of scale in finding the right talent, in any location, without having to hire additional layers of recruiters in different countries.

Of course, in contrast to a one-time encounter with candidates in person, both pre-recorded and live interviews can easily be shared with other evaluators and reviewed at the convenience of the recruiting team and employers.

AI, IMAGE AND VOICE RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY

Advanced VI tech tools can now analyse expressions, voice intonations, answers, and skills, and compare them with current staff to predict compatibility across the organisation. This method of scoring candidates also works to remove any biases held by the in-person interviewer.

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

A series of racially-charged events have exacerbated the disruptions caused by COVID-19 and brought diversity and inclusion issues into sharp focus for employers all over the world. For recruiters and employers, these dual obstacles dovetail by putting a premium on identifying and recruiting diverse talent.

Although there are a number of recruitment solutions that focus on diversity, such as WAYUP for junior level candidates, and elite retained firms like Korn Ferry for executives, very few focus on the mid to senior level professionals. AC Lion, which partners with employers looking for executives at this level, does, however, also supplement pipelines with candidates from diverse backgrounds—instead of displacing employers’ internal hiring efforts—thus mitigating bias-based inequalities in an employer’s sourcing process.

The mitigation of bias begins with providing companies with raw data. AC Lion helps gather internal data on the basis of each role, and evaluates how employers’ minority or gender representation compares to the market in which they compete. In addition to historical search methods that attempt to create diverse candidate pools, transformative AI, like that offered by Israel-based Talenya, is now also tackling the challenge.

Talenya’s revolutionary technology uses proprietary algorithms that suggest certain changes to talent search parameters that raise diverse talent participation. Because the algorithms are responsible for making these changes, there is no fear of implicit bias infecting the search for candidates.

The process begins with the uploading of a job description. The software reads and “understands” the job description and then builds the initial search around it. Next, recruiters upload an ideal candidate profile for the job in question, or select from example profiles that the software offers. At that point, the search bots start looking for the raw data on fresh candidates from hundreds of online sources.

The software curates relevant candidate profiles and collects contact information from hundreds of sources. Notably, the proprietary technology will also add key words relating to skills, which candidates may have failed to enter into their profiles. This feature not only allows recruiters to find more talent, it also levels the playing field for all candidates, particularly women and minorities, who typically tend to include fewer skills in their job profiles.

Significantly, the software obscures photos and names so that candidates are longlisted purely based on their merits. Once the employer had provided feedback on the candidate pool, the recruiter can “teach” the AI software to tailor the search to determine which candidates would best suit the employer.

The diversity AI then refines the search further. Recruiters can select diversity categories that the employer would like to boost, such as by gender or by minority. The AI will then recommend changes in the search criteria that will increase the diversity representation in the candidate pool. If the employer wants the percentage representation of minorities in the pipe to grow even more, the AI has an “inclusive action” feature. This feature will slightly weight diverse candidate profiles in the employer’s search, thereby promoting them within their match category. The proliferation of this technology holds tremendous promise.

COVID-19 has presented unanticipated challenges on an unprecedented scale. But it has also prompted developments that have similarly created unprecedented opportunities. Savvy employers will continue to partner with elite recruiters and deploy emerging technologies to survive, and thrive, in a constantly challenging marketplace.

Alan Cutter contributed to this article. 

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© 2021 McDermott Will & EmeryNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 355
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About this Author

Richard I. Scharlat Employment Lawyer McDermott Law Firm
Partner

Richard I. Scharlat has more than 20 years’ experience in employment litigation defending management across a broad range of industries, and in ERISA matters and class actions.

A seasoned trial lawyer, Richard has tried bench and jury cases in federal and state courts in many US jurisdictions, as well as arbitrations before FINRA and various arbitration panels. An accomplished management defense counselor, Richard leads teams in trade secret litigation, employee poaching/raiding cases, employment contract negotiations, executive compensation, restrictive covenant disputes and unfair...

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