Why generative AI could mess up matching and hiring processes as featured in The HR Director Magazine

By Richard Collins, Co-Founder - 19 October 2023

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Generative AI is being rapidly adopted en masse by jobseekers. From supporting automatic applications and custom cover letters to tracking applications and generating tailored interview questions - AI for jobseekers isn't disappearing anytime soon.

As a result, there’s a significant increase in applications, which are more tailored to the job, but look generic, and can be trusted even less than current CVs. Whilst the recruitment industry has turned to focus on AI’s ability to improve and automate HR tech tools and processes, this adoption has triggered a problem in its wake – which existing technology is unprepared to handle. 

Although 79 per cent of recruiters believe jobseekers’ use of AI will affect how they hire, only 21 per cent have a plan to match these changes. Existing matching technology and processes are set to fail. Those who don’t adapt and integrate a new approach are destined for disaster.  


The continued rise of AI in job applications

Imagine you have just lost your job, through no fault of your own. Your company is downsizing. Perhaps you have a mortgage, maybe a couple of young kids to fund or a car repayment to make. 

The mounting pressure of needing a new job to pay the bills, combined with the skyrocketing cost of living, has you feeling stressed and probably scared. In this instance, do you believe that applying to more jobs will get you back to work faster, or will tailoring your application to each job improve your chances of getting an interview? 

Chances are it’s a yes to both. At one time or another everyone has been told that the above is true. If that’s the case, then it’s quite likely that you would consider using an AI tool to help. Whether that is just using ChatGPT or Bard, or one of the new auto apply bot tools, such as Lazyapply, Teal and Simplify. You wouldn’t be alone or short of choices.

With the ball in motion, the use of AI is set to continue transitioning into every stage of the application process. Now 70 per cent of job seeker tools offer resume building support and 53 per cent provide tailored job searches as standard functions.  

The result of these tools will be that jobseekers will make more applications much quicker, those applications will be more tailored to the job, look increasingly similar, but will be trusted even less. 


It’s not just technology that’s driving adoption

Sadly, the talent acquisition industry must take some responsibility for this. The emergence of ghosting has encouraged jobseekers towards spray-and-pray applications. From the 80 applications a jobseeker is expected to make during a job search, they won’t receive a response from 70 per cent.  

As jobseekers now don’t expect to hear back from most applications, their behaviour has changed. They think, “Why waste lots of effort on each application when it’s unlikely anyone will be in touch?” So, they apply far and wide and see what sticks  even waiting to research the company until after they’ve received a positive response from the recruiter. 


What does this mean for talent attraction?

Within the talent attraction function, what effect will this AI-enabled spray-and-pray attitude have on the hiring process? Firstly, one click will enable jobseekers to automatically apply to 400 jobs. More applications means a recruiter’s inbox is going to be jampacked. Unfortunately, these aren’t all going to be right. Some are going to be less relevant, throwing off the accuracy of matching and targeting. 

Besides this, each application is going to look pretty much the same, as they’ll all be automatically tailored to the specific job by the latest generative AI. What’s the cherry on top of this chaotic cake? Well, AI’s notorious tendency for hallucinations combined with the distrust that already exists with CVs, is further blurring the line between applications that can and cannot be trusted. 

This is what the future of talent acquisition will have to tackle, and automating existing processes and HR tech through AI is not going to help.


Let’s stress-test it

Ask yourself, will your current hiring process cope with five times, maybe even 20 times more applications? It’s a nauseating cycle. The more applications you receive, the harder it is for jobseekers to stand out, necessitating them to create more. Let’s say that the current one in 20 applicants invited for an interview becomes one in a hundred. 

One in five interviews result in a hire, but now the information used to judge whether to invite to interview is increasingly wrong. So, more interviews are needed – let’s double it. Even then people will get through this only to fail the post-offer reference check. And it’s back to the start of the process we go. 

At this point, that’s now 1,000 applications per hire. Assuming, of course, that they pass the reference check, most will be unsuitable. Many will be so generic that they are impossible to tell them apart, thanks to the tailored-to-the-job generative AI written CV and application.  


How will you cope and what happens to your HR tech?

“It’s fine,” I hear you say. “My HR tech vendors are adding AI to their systems to automate.” That’s great, but there’s three key things to consider. Firstly, the data being used to power the process can no longer be trusted. For example, the CV is no longer robust. It is written by AI  crap in, crap out. 

Secondly, your matching technology won’t work. Everything will look the same, and be designed to SEO your matching algorithm. Lastly, it may well be illegal in certain countries, or at least require complex audits if you are using AI to screen candidates. 


Beware the  APPocalypse

We call the problem the APPocalypse, and we think that recruiters are wholly ill-equipped for what’s coming. They have the potential to be completely overwhelmed. 

Sounds a bit dystopian I know, but people need to take note. They need to build a proverbial ark before the flood of applications comes. 


What are the options?

Recruiters need a way to automatically check applicants before they process them, otherwise, they will waste vast resources just finding the relevant qualified applicants. Automated verification is the easiest solution.  

Used at the beginning of your normal recruitment processes, it acts as a sieve, allowing recruiters to quickly get to those who are qualified first. Automated verification means a jobseeker can prove they are who they say they are and have the right to work, as well as demonstrate they have the key skill(s) to do the job, either through experience, qualifications or assessments.  

This approach is a combination of light referencing, knockout questions with proof, and assessment.  Eventually, this will all be done automatically and without friction using zero-knowledge blockchains. Once recruiters have put applicants through a verification process, they should be good to continue with their existing vendors. 

But – and it’s a big but – without that layer of verification, generative AI is going to mess up their matching and hiring processes. 


The HR Director

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