The Future of Hiring – High Tech High Touch

The world of work has become increasingly complex. The legacy models of transactional human resources are painfully outdated. A new model of HR is evolving, based on agile practices and transformative business value. Thanks to investments in digital transformation, a rise in freelance work, and the onset of a global pandemic, businesses today are becoming increasingly borderless, remote, and digitally-driven. Organisations now find themselves facing entirely new talent needs, skills gaps, and business challenges compared with only a few years ago. As a result, the way they seek talent demands immediate change.

On average, recruiters spend only 7.4 seconds scanning a resumé to determine if they want to consider an applicant. Think about that for a moment. In the time it takes to have the internal debate on whether you want to upsize your coffee, a recruiter has decided an applicant’s fate. Even the best recruiters, with thousands of resumé-reading hours under their belts, will still miss great hires. Why? As we are finding with most things in our reality: today’s careers are not linear.

The selection process is driven by Hiring managers with lean teams, project deadlines, and increasing pressure to do more with less. These factors drive an insatiable appetite for “picture-perfect” candidates. Candidates who have worked at the right companies, for the right number of years. Candidates who went to the right schools, and received the right marks. Candidates who have immediately transferrable responsibilities, and a vertically progressive career path that positions them into an instantly productive role. Baahahahaha! That old, outdated expectation is some delusional remnants of the ghosts of careers past. The days when careers were linear, and everyone stayed on a vertical path of career progression are a distant memory. Unless someone is ruthlessly specialised, that worldview is incongruent with today’s careers.

“Never hire someone who knows less than you do about what he’s hired to do.”

— Malcolm Forbes

Welcome to the Future

In George Ander’s book, The Rare Find he coined the term jagged resumé and outlined a case for why today’s careers (and resumés) do not look like those of days gone by. Today’s careers often follow a lattice rather than a ladder. They change, shift, pause and reinvent. Someone with a jagged resumé may have a job that requires a bit more of an explanation and a work history that zigzags. The vertical career paths so coveted in the old days are being replaced by shorter tenures, stretch roles, entrepreneurial endeavours, time off work to spend with family, and the rising gig economy. It’s time we reframed our thinking – and resumé expectations – to account for this shift.

Imagine a future where job descriptions and resumés no longer matter. Target candidate profiles are created by analysing massive amounts of data through pattern assessments of top performers, prioritised and weighted deliverables, application funnel history, performance data, and more. Digital technology sorts through the data to understand which experiences, traits, dispositions, career paths, etc. will allow for the highest odds of success in a role. This means the resumé submission and application process will also change. Rather than agonising over which font best says “creative, but deadline-conscious” before attaching a resumé, candidates will interact with a series of games and assessments that are custom designed to identify traits and profiles that best map to the profile of the job. The results are then analysed by the digital tool and matched to the position, based on the likelihood of success in the role. Think it sounds like some far-fetched recruiter’s utopian dream? It’s already here.

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.”

— Lawrence Bossidy

Measuring Potential, Not Pedigree

Last year Unilever ditched resumes in favour of algorithmic matching for a segment of their new graduate hiring. Using a tool called Pymetrics, they shifted an entire segment of their University hiring away from the traditional on-campus model towards a new approach based on digital, behavioural assessments. The results were significant:

  • Applications doubled over the first 90 days
  • Unilever hired its most diverse class to date, with considerable increase in non-white applicants and hires
  • The hiring class was also much more socio-economically diverse, with many hires coming from schools they did not typically visit and recruit
  • Time to fill reduced from four months to four weeks

Hiring Managers conduct traditional interviews once the initial digital assessment is complete. The opportunity to inject bias at this stage still exists, but the candidate pool includes a much more diverse selection of candidates – including some “jagged resumés” that traditional resumé evaluation would have missed. The results of Unilever’s initiative are certainly encouraging, but they may not indicate the beginning of the end of the resumé just yet. New grads, or high-volume hiring roles, where candidates are accustomed to doing more on the front end of the application process, are much more likely to invest the time necessary to complete the games and evaluations necessary to gather enough data to make an assessment. The future of hiring will always be human, and this experience will be increasingly augmented by tools and technology that will benefit recruiters and job seekers alike.

“A company should limit its growth based on its ability to attract enough of the right people.”

— Jim Collins

High Tech Can Mean Even Higher Touch

Well-designed virtual talent acquisition solutions address today’s complex hiring challenges and more. They use technology to streamline the recruitment process, improve the candidate experience, and elevate the employer brand – all while delivering quality talent to the business. Korn Ferry found that 53% of candidates say their top complaint is when a recruiter ‘ghosts’ them. As unemployment levels rise so too does job-related anxiety. Talent acquisition professionals are under increasing pressure to reassure job hunters and guide them through the application process. This can be a challenge, especially with applicant numbers on the rise. Team members may need to check emails in the evenings and on weekends. Work/life balance is disrupted. Performance suffers. Businesses risk letting top candidates slip through the net.

In this way, virtual solutions are a highly effective method of relieving this pressure. For example, chatbots can be programmed to support candidates throughout the process in a high-touch, conversational way. They are available 24/7 to answer frequently asked questions, schedule appointments, and update candidates on their progress. Some can even match individuals to vacancies, streamlining the application process and pointing candidates towards more relevant roles. On the few occasions when a chatbot is unable to answer a question, the inquiry can be passed on to a talent professional. This ensures the candidate isn’t “ghosted” which is the quickest way for recruiters to lose credibility with candidates, impacting negatively on the brand.

“Find ballplayers, not those who look good in baseball caps.”

— Tom Monahan

The Rise Of Skills-Based Hiring

The pandemic broke some old conventions and accelerated other trends. One convention that, for many tech employers, fell by the wayside was requiring degrees for every position. A trend that has accelerated during the pandemic is skills-based hiring. For decades, degree requirements have been added to more and more jobs. The degree ratchet increasingly screened out many skilled applicants, expanded the opportunity gap, and made upward mobility more elusive. 

Degrees are a bad proxy for critical skills. Opportunity@Work is an organisation that connects employers to a huge, largely invisible talent pool of capable people they call STARs – workers who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes, rather than the traditional four-year degree. STARs have picked up skills through community college, workforce training, bootcamps, accreditation and certificate programs, military service, or on-the-job learning, but are often overlooked by employers. Traditionally STARs are blocked by arbitrary degree requirements which means companies are missing out on skilled and diverse talent. This is bad for workers and bad for business. Instead of ‘screening out’ by pedigree, smart employers are increasingly ‘screening-in’ talent for performance and potential. While the pandemic accelerated inequity, it may have broken the ratchet of degree inflation and caused many employers to get serious about identifying job critical skills to “screen in” talent.

“In technology, it’s about the people. Getting the best people, retaining them, nurturing a creative environment, and helping to find a way to innovate.”

— Marissa Mayer

Skills - They're Multiplying

Skills-based hiring focuses on priority technical skills as well as foundational and transferable skills. Conducted with Kansas City partners, the DeBruce Foundation sponsored the Essential Skills Report which outlined six competencies most important to succeed in the future of work:

  • Communication: interacting with clients, coworkers and collaborators;
  • Collaboration: teamwork that leverages skills of colleagues; 
  • Critical Thinking: problem solving that synthesises information;
  • Interpersonal Skills: treating others with empathy and building trusting relationships; 
  • Proactivity: taking initiative, acting on opportunities to add value; and 
  • Executive Function: managing work independently and dealing with ambiguity. 

The report concluded, “Because these skills are valuable across sectors and durable over time, it is important that education institutions, out-of-school experience providers, and employers invest in the development of Essential Skills.” The surge in skills-based hiring means education institutions will begin to design experiences around these priority skills. Courses will be a series of experiences aimed at improving a bundle of competencies. 

“Engagement has to be human because people trust people more than brands.”

— Ana Alonso

WWWBD – What Would Warren Buffet Do?

In a 1998 speech at the University of Florida, Warren Buffett gave MBA students a business lesson for competitive advantage – have integrity guide your business decisions. It all starts with who you hire. Buffett said: “We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. And if they don’t have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you’re going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb.”

Integrity must be first on the list of all skills and traits (yes, including IQ) when assessing job candidates. Job-hopping candidates who “fake it till they make it” for a living are notorious for embellishing stories and padding their resumés to get their foot in the door. Today’s hiring managers must dig deep during the interview process to obtain the answers they need to feel confident that the candidate has the non-negotiable character of integrity. Otherwise, “lazy and dumb” will eventually cost you. With integrity, you bring more truth and truth-tellers into the organisation. In this way, your job opportunities become increasingly attractive to those seeking honest brands. Integrity infused into the culture of a company differentiates it from the rest and is the core and essence of any great business.

“The secret to my success is that we’ve gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.”

— Steve Jobs

5 Must-Ask Integrity Questions for Interviews

So how do you go about assessing a complete stranger for integrity? You ask the right questions to get to the core of a person’s character. Hiring managers skilled in behavioural interviewing would be wise to include these five must-ask questions:

  1. Tell me about a specific time when you had to handle a tough problem that challenged fairness or ethical issues. What happened and how did you respond?


  1. When was the last time you “broke the rules”? What was the situation and what did you do?


  1. When working with people, how would you describe your preferred relationship with them? (Use this question to assess honesty and the capacity for open communication, a clear hallmark of integrity.)


  1. What values do you appreciate the most in a team environment? (Use this question to look for other trustworthy traits, like fairness, transparency, and inclusiveness — all hallmarks of integrity.)


  1. If we ever got into a bind with a client, would you be willing to tell a little lie to help us out? (This is a “trick question” to drill down to a person’s core values. Anyone operating with integrity will raise a red flag and object to the question. You can explain your motive for asking it later, once you determine the individual has passed the lie test.)

“Hiring people is an art, not a science, and resumes can’t tell you whether someone will fit into a company’s culture.”

— Howard Schultz

Video is a Key Channel

A recent LinkedIn survey suggests video resumés could be more than a passing trend: 75% of hiring managers believe a standard resumé is insufficient in evaluating a candidate’s soft skills and 76% say a pre-recorded video of a potential candidate would be useful. If you’re considering a video resumé for yourself, a new pilot program from TikTok could lead you to new opportunities. New profile options from LinkedIn allow you to upload a cover story – a short video to add life to your profile. Additional capabilities, just announced, include:

Service Pages – for freelancers hoping to grow their business by listing the services they offer.

A Global Skills Initiative, launched in conjunction with Microsoft, which has helped 30 million people worldwide to build digital skills for high-tech, high-demand gigs.

Kayla Dixon, Marketing Manager at TikTok, says, “TikTok Resumes is a natural extension of our TikTok College Ambassadors program, where we previously employed hundreds of college students as on-campus brand representatives. We’re excited to help students and job seekers everywhere unleash their creativity.”

  • According to LinkedIn, 79% of hiring managers believe that video has become more important when it comes to interacting with or vetting job candidates, and 61% of job seekers believe a recorded video could be the next iteration of the traditional cover letter. 
  • 62% of job seekers believe sharing more about themselves, their experience and career goals on video could help them land a job. Hiring managers agree with 76% agreeing a pre-recorded video of a job seeker would be useful.
  • 59% of job seekers believe video is becoming the new norm as part of the job-seeking process, and 41% have used video to stand out in the past.
  • Job seekers feel sharing a video with hiring managers would be helpful because it allows them to better highlight their personality and showcase their authentic self.

“Find out what you like doing best, and get someone to pay you for doing it.”

— Katharine Whitehorn

3 Keys to a Kick-Ass Video Resumé

Employers are looking to hire job seekers who are ahead of the curve both in keeping up with the current standard as well as thinking outside of the box. By sending a video resumé, you are showing that you fulfill both. If you were to send a video resumé to an employer, chances are that (currently) you would be among a very small percentage of applicants who did so. This automatically makes you stand out, regardless of what you put in the video. They may only give you an average of 7.4 seconds with a text document, but a video resumé is sure to intrigue them. Wouldn’t you want a break from three hours of reading if you were the Hiring manager?

Talk Outcomes, Not Skills

Anyone can say that they are a “highly-motivated self-starter” but if your video resumé has a ton of adjectives explaining how great you are, you’re making a mistake. Fewer adjectives, more action. On the surface, it looks like employers want skills – but what they are really hiring is someone who can provide solutions. How can you tell a story that shows you are a “highly motivated self-starter”, and do it quickly, with an economy of words, so that an employer is curious to learn more?

3 Words That Make Video Magic

How do you know if you have a good video resume? The answer is found off-camera. When the interviewer says, “Tell me more…” What’s the “tell me more” that you can’t wait to be asked? What’s that part of your background or skill set that you would love to discuss? Videos are short – you can’t tell your entire life story from birth up until yesterday. So share the ideas that would make an employer curious to talk more with you.

Share the Surprises

What has been surprising about your career, your life experience, your education? Look in the direction of what people may not know or expect in terms of your contribution. Refrain from sharing negative surprises but don’t be afraid to talk about overcoming adversity. Surprises that are positive often come as a result of overcoming tough times. What’s a quick story of a challenge you overcame? A well-told story shows your resolve and your character much better than any document does!

“The future depends on what you do today.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

Disrupt or Be Disrupted

Digital technologies are already replacing human recruiters at initial job interviews for some of the tech giants. Unfortunately, the majority of recruitment professionals are not connecting the dots. They are failing to see how automation and video interviewing have the potential to eliminate their jobs altogether in the near future. The clock is ticking. Pretty soon Hiring managers may no longer need recruiting services at all from HR. If you want to prepare for the future of hiring and what it means for your role as a recruiter, consider the following action steps:

Assess: Assess your current recruiting role. How much of what you do consists of repetitive tasks? If it’s 50%, then know that half of your role could potentially be automated overnight with technology that’s available right now.

Plan: Plan and develop strategies to replace those repetitive tasks with creative tasks such as building automated talent funnels for hard-to-fill roles. Propose how you can elevate your recruiting role through automation.

Execute: Execute with passion, clarity, creativity and speed. There is no map for this. The one thing technology cannot do is create. The future belongs to recruitment professionals who can create leading practices that utilise automation and technology.

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

— Nelson Mandela

2 Innovative Concepts Driving the Future of Hiring

Technology and data are changing the ways companies do business and influencing how organisations are hiring. HR is integral to any organisation – An organisation is only as good as its’ people. It has been said that Google has candidates come in to interview “as many as 16 times before ultimately releasing them back to the wild.” So let’s take a look at a couple of new and innovative concepts that may help to drive the future of how organisations are staffed.

The Social Graph

It’s not what you know but who you know. We’ve all heard this phrase before and now we have social graphs that are accessible through technology. These are social connections that will at some point be used to help us as individuals in our careers. Imagine if companies could leverage everyone’s social network to get personal references at scale. A company called Jibe is doing this and their employers have said that Jibe candidates are 4x more likely to be hired than those from traditional job boards.  

Statistical Data Models

If data exhaust was actually smoke, we would all be suffocating by now. The abundance of raw data is staggering and making sense of it all can be a daunting task. For this reason, cloud-based solutions are popping up everywhere. Capturing and understanding data is very different than taking actionable steps from the findings. There is a new school of thought among organisations that look to statistical models as the basis by which candidates are hired. The cost of hiring a new employee is recouped if that person stays for a certain period of time. If the candidate leaves before that time, the organisation realises a loss. New statistical models predict (with a high level of probability) if a candidate will stay beyond a certain period of time. A company in Chicago is working on bringing their models to market which could save millions of dollars annually in the hiring process.

“Whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy.”

— Paulo Coelho

The Way of the Future

One thing is clear: companies who meet the future with a comprehensive digital recruitment experience will have an advantage. Adding accuracy, eliminating bias, and speeding up the hiring process. Succeeding in an increasingly remote and digital business landscape will require businesses to anticipate skills gaps and acquire workers with advanced digital and interpersonal skills, who are well-suited to work in remote and digital companies. To achieve this, recruiters are becoming agents of business strategy. Working together with company executives and decision-makers will be central to positioning the organisation to fulfill its goals and stay competitive in uncertain times.

Traditional candidate search companies, built around the transaction of a hire are dying out. The future demands authentic relationships with advisory support on the front and back end to ensure organisations and candidates are set up for success. By concentrating on skills rather than the on-paper biography of an applicant, recruiting costs and time-to-hire are reduced. If projections hold true, the need for applicants to possess clearly defined competencies will only increase regardless of industry.

This is the way of the future.

“If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat! Just get on.”

— Sheryl Sandberg


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