Not so human Human Resources

The Guardian reports this week that more and more large corporations are using algorithm based software to filter job applications. No surprise there you might say and so what? We all have lots of software and apps to make our working and personal lives easier by dealing with tasks for us.

If it were just about cutting out time consuming admin– then it wouldn’t be worthy of much comment.

But the Guardian report highlights cases that demonstrate that algorithms are taking automated selection to a new level; one where applications use questions that can grade people “for extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to ideas”. In short, algorithms are driving automated personality testing for jobs as opposed to a competence, experience and qualification based model.

There are obvious implications in this for those who have, for example, suffered personality or mental health issues and where a non-transparent and arbitrary judgment is being made to exclude individuals from the workplace. But the rest of us might not be too comfortable either. One of the fascinations of the workplace is that we work with a whole range of different people who bring their own version of difference – from gender, ethnicity and orientation through to creativity approaches and ideas. Ok we don’t all get on with everyone and sometimes our colleagues drive us to distraction (and we do the same to them!). But do we really want a working environment where everyone has the same personality traits and do employers really want that? It has some horrible hallmarks of an artificially constructed micro-society and will it really be good for business?

The same article suggests there is little evidence that there is a correlation between personality testing and good job performance.

I can’t resist the temptation to observe that this may be an undesired and unintended consequence of the widespread proposition that advances in technology can solve everything. Having worked in the industry, I salute the amazing benefits of technology and there are undoubtedly many more to come. But we remain people and decisions on our interactions with each other at work– however imperfect – should be driven by ourselves and not by algorithms devised to give employers some bizarre sense of the perfectly formed workforce.

Even if we push back the tide of personality based algorithm testing, sifting is still likely to be automated - in the US, some 72% of CVs are apparently never seen by human eyes. So if nothing else, ensure your CV is not a narrative of your life. Make sure it reflects how and why you are a good fit for the job – even the best software won’t come looking for your skills and qualities if you don’t describe them! It might find that really ill-advised picture you put on Facebook though….

If you want to identify, highlight and promote your true skills and worth, get in touch today and find out how Mightify can help find the right opportunity for you - on a personal level, without algorithms!


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