Daniel Winer

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These days almost everyone who has been actively searching for and applying for new career opportunities, or even their first job, will have come up against an AI gatekeeper. For the most part, especially if it’s more of broad search, this has come to be accepted and even expected. But if you’re doing a more specific search, say you’ve found a job for which you would be a great candidate and have demonstrated an aptitude in similar, relatable areas but don’t match every single criteria exactly, and yet you are simply rejected and faced with a “computer says no” automated response, this can be significantly more frustrating and down heartening.

There’s no doubt that the majority of industries now have come to rely heavily on automation and computerised processing, and even more so during the ongoing Pandemic and in many ways this has been a fantastic thing, but there are definitely areas in which the technology simply doesn’t cut it. Specifically speaking, areas in which human intuition, gut instinct and good, old fashioned experience are paramount, and in few sectors is this more prevalent than it is in recruitment and talent acquisition.

A good recruiter has developed their experience and instincts over their career to be able to see potential matches and placements beyond the limitations of a CV. Transferable skills and parallel experiences generally don’t translate very well to a piece of software, but to a human recruiter they can be the key to the perfect candidate. Someone who has exactly the right mental attitude, coupled with an aptitude for learning or a similar enough experience to make the transition an easy one, but who maybe didn’t get the required grades at secondary school, would likely get shot down at the first hurdle when facing AI processing. But who’s to say that this candidate wouldn’t turn out to be the best possible fit for the role and have learned above the level of the AI’s “ideal candidate” in a matter of weeks? Interaction with an actual human, talking around their experiences and looking at parallels and transferable skills and knowledge is the only way to gauge this properly. Obviously this isn’t an exact science, and never will be, but surely it’s better to try and get as many candidates as possible into a role that is actually a good fit for them and likewise for the company.

It’s certainly true that over the years the recruitment industry as a whole has had its share of bad press and a reputation for using less than ideal techniques to land placements. But the era of sales-esque recruiting and the practice of slinging as much mud at a wall as you can until something sticks is finally fading into history and a rapidly growing number of agencies, like The Talent Partnership, have forged a better practice in the direction of conscientious talent acquisition. To an AI gatekeeper, every candidate is simply a series of keywords on a CV or boxes ticked on an online application form. To a recruiter in good habits, every candidate is a person and a potentially excellent future employee for their clients.

As with most jobs, the intuition and instinct that assists in making these judgements without the aid of an automated service comes largely with experience. But even an inexperienced recruiter will get a better feel for a candidate face to face - even from a two meter distance or over a zoom call - than could ever be garnered from just a CV. Imagine it like one of the myriad dating apps that are out there nowadays; the automated approach is like an app filled with photo-only profiles. Sure you get a look at the person, you can see a very basic outline of them and be able to identify some of the surface things you might be looking for in a match, but with nothing else to go on how can you possibly have any idea of the personality, intellect and therefore potential of the person in the photo? They might look sweet holding that cat, but who’s to say it wasn’t stolen from the old lady across the road?

So the next time you find yourself facing off against a less than helpful AI gatekeeper for that dream job, don’t lose hope or get too frustrated. Remember that even if this particular computer says no, any one of a growing number of “better-practice” human recruiters may very well say something quite different - and certainly more informative and constructive - and there may yet be a way to get that all important foot in the door.