Depending on who you listen to, automatic recruiting is either the future of hiring or the worst thing that ever happened to it. Keyword-based recruiting technologies have been around for a while, although many are dismayed by both the process and results. But instead of throwing these technologies out the window entirely, maybe there's a sensible argument for simply using them better.
Understanding the Issues
What is automated recruiting, and what's wrong with it? Put simply, automated recruiting is the process of selecting job candidates based on their use of certain critical keywords in their resumes or online applications. In theory this makes good sense -- if you're looking for specific attributes, skills, educational achievements or values, you can program those keywords into your job search and cull the respondents who indicate that they have exactly what you seek. At the very least, this should eliminate the larger pool of unqualified candidates, permitting your HR department to focus on better prospects for the interview process.
Unfortunately, this approach has some clear flaws. Liz Ryan, writing for Forbes, condemns automated recruiting as an outright failure. She points out that many common, overused terms such as "administrative skills" will likely pop up on just about any candidate's resume or application, rendering that keyword useless as a valid pre-screening tool. Adam Vaccaro of Inc. adds that in its current form, automated recruiting is better at selecting candidates who are good at using all the right buzzwords than at actually zeroing in on the right people for the job. It's also possible that some of the brightest prospects don't happen to have a specific qualification that fits the keywords -- or they do fit the needs of the position, only in a different way than the keywords recognize. Without a human being reading between the lines, businesses may be ignoring or excluding the very candidates you could get the best work from.
On the other hand, automated recruiting can be enormously helpful in streamlining the hiring process, relieving overworked HR departments and managers of unnecessary burdens. The emergence of big data has enabled companies and organizations to get smarter about how they interact with their target audiences -- not just consumers, but also job candidates. Steering automated recruiting away from cut-and-dried keywords and toward a predictive analytics model would allow it to compare candidate data against collected data on other recruiting successes and failures. It can then look for similar or diverging patterns to provide you with a more holistic view of how well-suited or ill-suited the candidate truly is for the position.
One other key to getting the most out of automated recruiting is to recognize it as the first step of a process that still includes human recruiters. There is no current artificial intelligence capable of evaluating all the little traits, quirks, and indefinable "It Factors" that go into hiring the ideal candidate. Automated recruiting has a potentially bright future -- but only if we humans are willing to shape it properly.