HR Screening Software Hinders Hiring at Some Companies

Resume Close UpA current trend of automatically screening applicants with recruiting software is a double-edged sword for companies that claim they simply can’t find the right talent, says Peter Cappelli, a professor of management and human resources at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

HR screening software helps companies sift through the thousands of resumes they may receive, allowing them to filter the documents according to qualifications and keywords. However, at many companies, this software has replaced recruiters, so “applicants rarely talk to anyone, even by email, during the hiring process,” Cappelli notes in his book, “Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs.”

“Human eyes rarely see applicants until the very end of the process,” Cappelli says in a Wharton School publication. “So, we’re trying to push the automation too far. There’s nothing wrong with the automation… but trying to get rid of (certain HR workers) altogether means that we’re relying on the machines to make the decisions.”

The tech industry uses Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) software, which helps automate numerous HR processes, more so than other industries, says Tom Boyle, director of product marketing for SilkRoad Technology, which sells HR automation software. He told Dice that tech companies and other organizations use ATS not only to help automate and manage the hiring process, but also in numerous other ways including automating job postings to active and passive channels, agency portals, employee referrals, social media, and searching online.

The recession also has caused “employers to be able to be pickier, to get even more specific in the skills they think they can find outside the company and to cut back on training,” Cappelli told the Wall Street Journal. This in turn has made it more difficult for companies to find the right candidates.

And companies that say they can’t find enough qualified candidates? It’s often a company’s overly stringent requirements, low wages and, or, an applicant screening process that is overly-rigid that creates this problem, Cappelli notes.

Related Links

Software Raises Bar for Hiring [The Wall Street Journal]

Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: Chasing After the ‘Purple Squirrel’ [Knoweldge@Wharton]

6 Responses to “HR Screening Software Hinders Hiring at Some Companies”

  1. Don Curtis

    OK we all know this is a problem. How do we implement a “work around” so we get picked by the software or bypass it and get to the hiring manager?
    And does anyone know how to format a resume so Taleo will correctly parse it?

    • Don, I’m “late to the game” here, but I saw your question and have an answer. Try Preptel []. For a small fee, that company will scan your resume and a sample job posting and will offer you a critique of your document’s ability to score high on an ATS scan. btw, I am not associated with them, but I am aware of them and their work. I have referred job candidates to them to help navigate the online job search.

  2. Fred Bosick

    If nothing else, having to write to get past the keyword checking software leads more people to fudge their qualifications. But if an Ebay CEO can invent a degree from whole cloth, where’s the problem?


  3. jcpopescu

    My opinion is the whole recruiting process could and probably should be automated.

    All a recruiting agency is doing is throughputting. Resumes come in one portal, job orders in another, a keyword match unites the two, a recruiter calls and that’s the end.

    In the three decades I have been in tech NOT A SINGLE RECRUITER who contacted me impressed me as having to take the time to read my resume.

    Had they done so they would have noticed the position they are *offering* me is either 1) outside my commute range 2) something I am NOT qualified or interested in or 3) Something I simply can not relocate to.

    I think the use of ATS and CRM systems have created a LOT of lazyness. An ATS system can’t convey the nuances of my qualifications and neither does it seem to understand what I’m looking for.

    I have nothing against using such systems however when all they do is spit out names and numbers generating lists recruiters use to cold call without taking the time to READ the resume of the name and number then something is wrong.

  4. After sending out hundreds of resumes and making numberous application for jobs which I qualify, have 20+ years experience, I have no doubt the system is flawed with many weaknesses. Several Executive recruiters have reviewed my resume and we have made changes to make each say it is now a great resume ! I have had a few telephone interviews and have been asked questions which relate and some which have nothing to do with the job description. Some illegal practices they use are what year did you graduate from high school. I had the new CIO of Dallas County (a retired Marine) interview me as the last person on the list. The other 15 people all gave me the highest marks and suggested that I be hired. However, this CIO told me that he did not believe I would fit into the “culture” here even though I had worked for a neighboring county for over 5 years and had excellent reviews from all other people. His racial discrimination reference was that most of the employees in Dallas County are black ! So what difference should that make to getting the job as a senior project manager ? Everyone in this human race bleeds red and skin color should not matter. Yes, his discrimination is his problem and unfortunately I have personally seen this three times now in local government and State job opportunitites.for which I am very qualified. I keep praying that someday that practice of black discrimination against other people will stop. Ive been color blind, religious or not tolerant, all my life. This must stop.

  5. I had a “Technical Sr. Project Manager” telephone interview yesterday. The HR person never read my resume, had no idea what she was asking me. Why does she have a job but if she is too lazy to actually do the work ? Give me that job as I am certain I could do it with higher quality, better attention to detail, and obtain better quality people which do not cheat or lie on their resume. I have University degrees in Computer Science, Psychology, Project Management, and recently earned a Masters Certificate for Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. My work experience as a Senior Project Manager includes large projects and small. I have 20 years experience history of bringing my teams together to complete all projects on time, within budget, scope, and quality as well as with excellence and high customer satifaction. When the job descriptions match my credentials and work experience perfectly and I am not given an interview then please help me understand how the choices for selecting candidates happen.? Persistence ? Prayer ? .