April 15, 2020

What We’ve Learned About High-volume Hiring

Hiring freezes and layoffs will mean more applicants to call centers and other high-volume hirers. This will mean more candidates to choose from, which doesn’t always make (hiring) life easier.

Below, we take a look at what Eightfold has heard from multiple clients with a lot of recent high-volume hiring experience in recent months.

One thing to note at the outset is that “high volume” doesn’t necessarily mean low-skilled, unspecialized jobs. High volume is a wide-ranging term that could involve manual labor, sales, customer service, hospitality, financial-services (such as mortgage reps or bank tellers), and many other roles. It’s a very diverse set of jobs, sometimes wrongly equated with low skills.

It’s exhausting to manually review each resume and every candidate (given the number of applicants) against job descriptions. So, it can help to define the exact job requirements you want in a role, so that people can be rapidly matched against those requirements. One of our financial-services clients looked at the underlying skills of people who were successful in a role, which, depending on the role, included information on how long the person was in the role, whether they got promoted, and other factors. It used those factors to calibrate the position, listing the skills necessary to succeed.

Having said that, job descriptions and job requirements alone aren’t sufficient. We’ve seen job descriptions which contain the wrong skills because the employer doesn’t know what they are looking for. You won’t get that from a resume, let alone a job description. You need to analyze data in large quantities (Eightfold has analyzed millions of profiles of people, and careers) to see trends in skills, and model your calibrated job against the skills that were consistently present in those who had successful careers in those roles.

At one of our customers, for example, the two skills that consistently showed up in successful customer service reps were sales and negotiation. Neither of these skills were in the company’s job description. Think about that: the top two skills in successful reps were skills they never looked for.

You can’t replace the human element. But you can’t only rely on the human element. One customer of ours, with millions of records in its applicant tracking system and tens of thousands of applicants monthly (and that was in good times!), needs AI to screen. It needs humans to make a final hiring decision.

High-volume hiring is not just about screening, but about branding. Employers turn down hundreds of applicants for every role, and how those applicants feel during the hiring process will impact a business.

AI helps you prioritize. For successful high-volume hiring, look at the DNA at scale of the people who are successful in that role. Then find similar DNA among your network (applicant tracking system, referrals, alumni, current employees, sourced candidates). From there, the match score helps you to think about who you want to talk to first, saving you a lot of time.

Time savings can be striking. We did some A/B testing where we had two groups recruit for the same role. One used Eightfold, and one another did things the old, manual way. The end result was somewhat similar in terms of the type of candidates who made it past the first interview as well as those who received an offer. The biggest difference was that the team using Eightfold got to the same conclusion in 10 percent of the time.

Sometimes, thinking outside your industry helps. One high-volume hiring financial-services company found that its best customer service reps were bartenders. That doesn’t mean every bank should necessarily hire bartenders. But, it does show the limitations of a keyword search and a search by someone who currently has the job you’re hiring for (we need a bank teller, let’s find a bank teller). Only by deconstructing someone’s experience into skills (such as listening skills) can you truly make a match.

For high-volume, blue-collar jobs, many do not have resumes and or a substantial social-media footprint. The determining factor to screen is based on their job application, using AI to enhance it so you can fill in the blanks with whatever’s not in the application.

Bottom line: high-volume hiring should mimic what’s necessary to make any hiring successful. Hire for potential and skills, rather than who’s doing that exact job now. Use very advanced technology combined with human decision making. And move beyond outdated processes like an over-reliance on resumes and job descriptions.