Talent Summit: finding the ‘holy grail’ of recruiting

Indeed, the world’s largest jobs site, is employing artificial intelligence to improve the job-seeker experience, says senior vice-president of product, Raj Mukherjee


For Indeed, which launched in 2004 and has data from more than 90 million CVs and 15 million company reviews, a key part of the solution has been the use of artificial intelligence, or AI.


Not so long ago, finding a new job involved poring over notice boards or newspapers, printing off your CV, rushing to the post box and crossing your fingers it got delivered by the deadline date.

For the employer, it meant hours spent sifting through a paper mountain of applications to find the right candidate.

Talent Summit magazine is available in The Irish Times on Friday, February 16th
Pick up a copy of Talent Summit magazine in Friday's edition of The Irish Times 

These days, the recruitment process tends to be a quicker, slicker experience. Type a job title into an internet search engine and a multitude of roles will appear; upload your details, hit send, and your CV is instantly in the inbox of a potential employer.

But today’s job market has still its pitfalls, which the world’s largest jobs site, Indeed, is well aware of.

Matching people with the right roles – what senior vice-president of product, Raj Mukherjee terms “the holy grail of recruiting” – can present major challenges.

[To book tickets for Talent Summit 2018, visit talentsummit.ie]

According to Indeed, almost half of job seekers say the biggest problem is being presented with too many roles (put “Nursing Jobs Ireland” into Google, for example, and you’ll get about five million results).

Applicants are also up against bias – whether conscious or unconscious – from recruiters, inefficient recruitment processes (with a third of job hunters saying processes take up too much time), and pressure on both sides to just get the role filled.

“All of these combine and lead to job seekers in many ways being at a disadvantage in finding their best role,” says US-based Mukherjee. “That ultimately permeates to the entire industry, where people are unhappy with the job they move into, and we find people start looking for jobs fairly regularly even after that.”

For Indeed, which launched in 2004 and has data from more than 90 million CVs and 15 million company reviews, a key part of the solution has been the use of artificial intelligence, or AI.

This branch of computer science – which Mukherjee describes as “an augmentation of human intelligence” – is fundamentally altering how people hire and search for roles.

Artificial intelligence should be seen as an opportunity, not a threat

Through AI, Indeed can train algorithms to predict which jobs are relevant, extract critical information from CVs and job descriptions to personalise search results, and protect users by pinpointing and eliminating poor-quality sites and scams. It all helps to ensure job seekers and employers find the “best-fit” roles and talent.

While recruiters typically spend “30 seconds to a minute” scanning a CV to decide whether someone is right for a role, “the machine is learning by looking at millions and millions of résumés and learning the patterns that make that particular résumé successful for that particular job,” Mukherjee explains.

“Let’s say I’m looking at a software developer’s résumé and I look for specific patterns of skills they’ve worked on, specific patterns of successes they may have had on past projects, schools they’ve gone to, people they might have worked with, things they might have worked on,” he says.

“All of that can be extracted from a résumé and then a machine can determine if this is a good fit with the skills that particular company is looking for.”

AI is going to actually alleviate people to do jobs that are more interesting and more fun

Mukherjee points to a “trifecta” of developments: improved algorithms; more data than ever before (Indeed generates more than 25TB – or 25 trillion bytes – of job-seeker activity data per day around the world); and more computing power thanks to innovations such as cloud computing.

“You combine all three, and you suddenly have the ability to transform an industry that hasn’t changed for many decades, for the better. People get more time to build the human relationships they want to build and leave the monotonous tasks of evaluation and skill fit to the machines that can do it better and in a much more reputable, fairer fashion.”

Eventually, Indeed believes AI will be embedded in every product in the recruitment process, from recommending the best position to apply for, to when to ask for a raise.

It also offers scope for automated assessments to see how well a candidate can perform a job. And post-hire, AI can help plan out workers’ career paths based on their skill sets, desires and performance.

While circling adverts with a marker pen has largely been replaced with sophisticated algorithms and processing techniques, Mukherjee admits AI is “not perfect”, and there are opportunities to further improve the job-seeker experience.

“Maybe instead of looking at a newspaper ad you’re looking at an online ad, maybe instead of posting a résumé or physical post, you’re posting it through email. You’re still hoping for an answer back, you still don’t know whether the other person has read your email, and decided to respond. That hasn’t changed,” he says.

“To me, as to everyone at Indeed, that’s what really keeps us awake at night. How do we fundamentally change the job-seeker experience so that they get more value from job search than they ever got in the last decade?”

Should we fear AI?

Talk of algorithms, automated assessments and robots might cause some of us to break out in a cold sweat, but Mukherjee says artificial intelligence should be seen as an opportunity, not a threat.

“People talk about [how] ‘AI is going to consume my job, I’ll be left with no job’. That’s not true,” he insists. “AI is going to actually alleviate people to do jobs that are more interesting and more fun in the next decade or two.”

While we can use AI to help find the best talent, or machines to conduct an initial video interview, a personal connection and affinity is the final clincher in the recruitment process, he adds.

“At the end of the day, whenever you’re deciding to go in and do a physical interview, or go in and spend time with a particular company to decide on the offer, that’s all human beings. You need that personal human connection to be able to decide whether this is the best fit for you,” says Mukherjee.

“We fundamentally believe AI will make life simpler for recruiters and give them back more time to do the things that they love to do, which is build that human connection.”

Talent Summit magazine will appear in print, in The Irish Times, on Friday, February 16th. For more information on Talent Summit 2018, and to book tickets for Thursday, February 22nd, visit talentsummit.ie.