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Has it been a robot all along?


This recent BBC article raises some interesting questions about the ever-growing use of AI in the job application process. I understand the frustration some must feel at having their CV rejected by an automated system – but is this actually such a seismic change? Is it really a case of the robots taking over?  and, up to a point, would that even be a bad thing?

Now, I should make clear that I’m generally an advocate for more human engagement through the job application process, not less – but I wonder what mythical heavenly system is being ruined by more technology here?

For decades and decades large companies have been employing people to throw as many CVs on the ‘reject pile’ as possible as part of the first screening stage.  It’s called sifting. As hundreds – sometimes thousands – of people began applying for single roles it became impossible even for multinationals to interview everyone or even have Managers look at every CV. The result? An often junior or under-qualified individual comparing CVs next to a check list of ‘must haves’. Not a nuanced, well-informed view of a CV by someone whom the role will report to, but an ill-informed person with a check list.  Smaller and medium sized companies soon got in on the act too. Perfect? No. Fair? No. Understandable? Probably.

That is what’s been rejecting so many of our applications for all these years.  Now it’s a computer.  Perfect? Absolutely not. Fair? Not really. But I guarantee the computer will have infinitely more alternative search words to check off than the HR intern.

The central question of the article: “Is it fair for a computer alone to accept or reject your job application?”  Well, as far as I can see it’s been some form of robot anyway.   So is this a horror story about the technology taking over, or simply a case of greater efficiency and digitalisation of an already-flawed system.

I’ll admit to not knowing what the perfect solution is.  I’m not sure there is one. Whatever the role or company however, the person doing the sifting (or programming the sifting tech) certainly needs to start being around the table when the role is being created.

- by Tariq Siraj

Posted by: Beament Leslie Thomas