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AI for HR: How Machine Learning Is Changing the Hiring Process

AI for HR: How Machine Learning Is Changing the Hiring Process
Credit: ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Machines have long been great at quickly scanning and organizing immense pools of information. Now, with the dawn of machine learning, they're getting quite agile at providing recommendations and decision-making assistance to humans as well. So where better to put them to use than in the hiring process, where both companies and employees depend on a good fit? Here's how artificial intelligence is changing the way companies hire and workers look for jobs.

When workers used to search for and apply to jobs through their local newspapers, employers would end up with a manageable stack of candidates to review. All of that changed in 1999, when the online jobs board Monster.com was founded. As the concept proliferated, workers began sending more and more applications to an increasing number of companies.

"A company like Coca-Cola would get thousands of applications for an open job, but before, they only received maybe 50 or 100," said Steve Goodman, CEO of Restless Bandit, a human resources software company that employs machine learning. "They were inundated with applications … and for the next 10 to 15 years, companies dealt with this by using … applicant tracking systems (ATS)."

ATS software did a great deal to organize the mass of applications, but it still required human eyes to sift through them for interview candidates. This led to an explosion in labor costs, with companies hiring screeners, recruiters and hiring managers to ultimately find a worthy candidate. That's where artificial intelligence (AI) is filling the gap today.

AI uses "algorithms to help companies sift through the noise and find a signal," Goodman said. "For HR and recruiting, this means modeling historical patterns of hiring. We can say whether a company likes to hire people with a certain career arc, who went to a certain school, or who are from a certain geography. There are lots of signals we can look for that can help you find people you should interview."

Goodman said he doesn't expect that AI will ever be able to tell you who to hire, but it is effective at narrowing down 300 applicants to the 25 best fits. Restless Bandit is narrowly focused on harnessing companies' existing internal resume databases to find valuable candidates for currently open positions.

Restless Bandit not only identifies previous applicants who might be a fit but also automatically updates old resumes with publicly available data on that individual, to ensure they are still a good fit for the company. Then, it automatically contacts suitable candidates. Currently, this service is available only to large corporations, generally multinationals, because it requires an extensive internal resume database from which to draw information.

While companies use artificial intelligence for hiring, AI can also help workers find out what they're actually worth. That's the idea behind Paysa, a company that aims to provide workers with data about their market value, as well as timetables for promotions and other available jobs that might be good fits.

"We realized that the data exists out there for people to find this info out, but there's no real way to bring it all together and understand not just averages, but what is it that you are worth, given your background, skills, your education and so on," said Paysa CEO Chris Bolte.

Leveraging more than 35 million data points across a database of tens of millions of resumes, as well as a full profile of every U.S. company, Paysa brings together a comprehensive picture of your particular standing in the market.

"You can check in at any time and see what your value is today based on market conditions," Bolte said. "On the other side of the coin, the company benefits in many ways. Maybe they realize their top folks are under market and might be ready to leave. Our goal is to keep the market and the employee in alignment, and give the employee a bit of a look ahead at what's coming next."

Bolte said he expects to see more of a shift in power from employer to employees as AI evolves. If the data is available to everyone, he said, then employees should be able to make more informed decisions than those in the era of jobs boards alone.

Adam C. Uzialko

Adam C. Uzialko, a New Jersey native, graduated from Rutgers University in 2014 with a degree in Political Science and Journalism & Media Studies. In addition to his full-time position at Business News Daily and Business.com, Adam freelances for a variety of outlets. An indispensable ally of the feline race, Adam is owned by four lovely cats.