Why data science can’t fix tech recruitment’s biggest problem

Data science and machine learning are taking over almost every industry you can imagine. We’re finding ways to automate processes, and machines really are coming for a lot of our jobs. In many industries, data science is being hailed as the future of work and the secret to revolutionising how employees manage their daily tasks; recruitment is no exception. These automations make our lives easier, reduce the need for time-consuming monotonous tasks and can speed up so many processes in tech, manufacturing, healthcare and even tech recruitment.

Many people claim that automations will solve some of recruitments most significant issues, from bias in the hiring process and diversifying team to streamlining the recruitment process. However, as we’ve argued countless times, data science and automating the recruitment process cannot completely replace the human elements of recruitment.

Although many recruitment professionals will tell you that automating all elements of the recruitment process is the future of hiring, we don’t believe it’s the case. Of course, as in any industry, it will help to save talent acquisition teams some time and speed up the recruitment process. However, the myth that these technologies can be the answer to some of tech recruitment’s biggest problems is utterly untrue. Data science cannot fix hiring in scaling tech businesses. Here’s why:

What’s the biggest issue?

Of course, for companies in the stages of growth, time is an issue. Your senior team does not always have the time to recruit and screen, interview, and onboard candidates. However, the biggest issue that scaling tech businesses face, and the tech industry as a whole, is a lack of diversity in hires. By this, of course, we mean the obvious lack of gender diversity, racial diversity and people with disabilities, to name but a few. However, we also mean hiring people from your own networks. Recruiting is challenging, and therefore when you’re trying to grow a startup business, it’s understandable that CEOs and founders look to their existing networks and connections. This can save them time, money and they can trust this person has the experience, knowledge and loyalty needed to help the business scale.

However, by only hiring individuals who have the same university background as you, the same employment history as you or your friendship group means limiting the viewpoints, opinions, and insights within your organisation, which could hinder your growth potential. To ensure your tech product resonates with the largest audience, you need to ensure you’re considering larger customer bases and not limiting yourself to like-minded people. Groupthink will limit your potential.

Plus, only hiring people from your network will hinder your recruitment efforts too. If a female comes into an organisation that is 90% male and the office environment reflects it, chances are she’ll take a job elsewhere where she feels more welcome and comfortable. With the demand for female developers and tech talent so high right now, they can afford to turn down job offers until they find the perfect company culture. A diverse organisation will attract more diverse candidates. It’s a constant cycle that is hard to get into, but once the hard work is done, you’ll reap the rewards.

Why can’t AI fix it?

AI can do a lot of things. For example, it can speed up the recruitment process by helping recruiters with time-consuming tasks like screening CVs and contacting candidates. You can also find software that will help with the direct sourcing of candidates, writing job descriptions and finding relevant people to reach out to. Ultimately AI is considered to streamline the recruitment process and overall candidate journey; it’s believed to make the candidate experience more effective as applications can be processed quickly and easily.

However, it comes with a series of issues too.

AI and machine learning platforms only do what they’re told; they must be programmed. Therefore, when people discuss removing bias and opening your business to a broader talent pool, this isn’t essentially true. While you may find a hire outside of your usual network, the next ten hires will all be very similar to this first candidate as you’re following the same algorithms for screening and selecting candidates, hindering your organisation’s diversity in the long run. These algorithms will respond to keywords and phrases and select candidates based on specific criteria, limiting the variation of candidates that actually make it through to you. Like on a graph, they’ll be the ones that meet the best fit line.

Right now, the tech recruitment industry is changing dramatically. Many workers from other sectors are retraining in tech. They know this is an industry with an exciting future; these workers may not meet your desired criteria but could have other transferrable skills from past careers. Also, the pandemic has meant that many people have lost jobs and are looking for work, perhaps with only being in their last position for a few months; your algorithm could also ignore them. Finally, and more prominently, remote working is now a viable option, so therefore you can look further afield when hiring tech candidates.

So, while AI may help you to reach top tech candidates quickly and speed up the hiring process, it will limit the diversity in your scaleup, and you may miss out on quality candidates that fall out of your preconceived “ideals”. In such a competitive tech recruitment market, and one where diversity remains at the forefront of candidates minds, can you afford to hire for speed rather than considering a range of options? By only hiring like-minded and similar people, your tech scaleup could falter, and growth plans may not come as easily. Plus, you may find that limiting the search for tech talent makes it even harder in the long run.

What’s the solution?

While we’re all for using AI to make lives easier, we cannot turn our back on the cruciality of having humans involved in recruitment. Firstly, recruitment is part of human resources. Therefore it makes no sense for this to be taken over by a machine. Algorithms and machines cannot replace human connection and conversations. When it’s something as important as a future career, or at least a job you’ll be spending 90% of your life working in, candidates want to know about the human side.

Therefore, if you’re a scaling tech business that is struggling to balance the stages of growth with hiring tech talent, perhaps it’s time to look for help. Suppose the reason you’re relying on AI for recruitment is to save time and free up your senior team as you grow. In that case, it could be time to hand over the tech recruitment baton to other people (not machines) who can take over the human elements of the hiring process. A good RPO provider will embed themselves into your organisation, become an extension of you, and learn the ins and outs of your company from values to culture. Therefore, you won’t even notice they aren’t technically part of the team.

Outsourcing the recruitment process has often been considered an expensive way to solve tech recruitment issues. However, with a more innovative RPO solution like the one we offer, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Talent Works offers a flexible RPO model which can be scaled as and when you need it. We know that growing businesses often have periods without needing to make hires and then see a surge in demand for tech talent; our subscription-based model is designed for this, making it a risk-free and sustainable choice for tech scaleups.

When outsourcing recruitment, you benefit from experts in employer branding, creative, digital attraction campaigns and of course, sourcing and recruitment. All of these teams have knowledge that is at your disposal, which will help your tech business stand out in a highly competitive market and help you reach a more diverse and varied talent pool.

 It means that your core team can focus on other elements of scaling your business, whether it’s perfecting your product, gaining funding and strategic planning for the future, but your recruitment can be in safe hands.

Talent Works are a specialist tech RPO provider with offices in Manchester, Northampton and Boston in the US. We help tech businesses, from startups and scaleups to some of the biggest names, grow their offering by recruiting the best talent. We often hire tech talent in new markets to help scale-ups grow on a global scale. Our in-house teams of researchers, digital marketers, creatives and recruiters become an extension of the organisation, with them every step of the way.

If you’d like to learn more about our flexible approach to tech RPO or discuss your tech recruitment challenges, contact us and start a conversation today.