Algorithmic advertising helps HR leaders find the best candidates, far and wide.
By Tierney McAfee
Retail companies have long been using targeted online advertising to find and engage the right buyers for the right products. Now, HR leaders are applying the same data-driven approach to recruitment—to great efficiency and success.
Algorithmic advertising first took the employment market by storm approximately five years ago, and it continues to gain momentum.
“It’s still in the early stages, but it’s having a bit of a moment,” says Adam Godson, vice president of global technology solutions for the strategic recruitment process outsourcing partner Cielo.
Algorithms are particularly well-suited to high volume hiring because they can help recruiters focus resources in the areas where they’re most needed, saving time and money, Godson explains.
“In high volume hiring you might need, not 1,000 people in one location, but one person in 1,000 locations,” Godson says. “Algorithmic advertising uses technology to distribute jobs across different geographies and make real-time updates based on candidate engagement.
“Algorithms help us see in real time the difficulty in a particular geography,” Godson continues. “In a five-years-ago model, we might have said, ‘Let’s apply the same resource effort level everywhere.’ Now, algorithmic advertising helps us understand the application funnel velocity of a job: Where do we need more candidates? Where do we not need more candidates? From there, the advertising can scale up or down in real time to focus on markets where there are more difficulties.”
Algorithmic advertising also gives recruiters a unique opportunity to study employee patterns, decode attrition, and optimize and improve the hiring process to bring in better qualified candidates, says Greg Summers, executive vice president of high volume RPO for Cielo.
“For example, if we’re getting people through a certain source who seem to be a good fit to a certain point but ultimately don’t end up being candidates that get hired or get hired and stay, then we can go back upstream and alter our media channels,” he explains. “We can adjust some of the auto screening mechanisms that are put in place to close the aperture a bit and only bring through qualified candidates who are meeting a higher threshold.”
In this way, algorithmic advertising can help solve the biggest challenge for high volume hiring: the time spent screening and qualifying candidates.
But even though algorithms have an edge over humans when it comes to quickly identifying potential problems and reacting in real time, Summers cautions that it’s still important to retain a human touch in the recruiting process.
“We can leverage algorithmic advertising to accelerate the hiring process and better understand the trends, but it definitely requires someone with the expertise and the knowledge to ensure the right adjustments are being made in the system itself to help ensure better quality” Summers says.
Many studies, including a 2017 whitepaper published by the National Bureau of Economic Researchers, show that employers who use recruiting algorithms end up hiring workers who are more productive, earn higher performance ratings, and have higher employee retention rates. Nevertheless, the idea of incorporating algorithms is still met with resistance among some hiring managers. Much of that resistance has to do with a lack of familiarity with the burgeoning strategy, says Godson.
“It really is just about understanding the new way of doing things. The analogy I would use is when people made the transition from getting Netflix by mail to getting Netflix by streaming. It’s just a better way to do it. But also it takes a minute to understand what’s happening,” says Godson.
But after organizations understand—and see the results—technology is often embraced for the real-time improvements it can make.