The pandemic has accelerated workers’ and talents’ priorities and expectations. AI-driven recruitment processes need tweaking to address this permanent trend.

When it comes to hiring talent, especially for technology roles, organizations are quickly adjusting to the reality that it is now a candidate’s market.

Over the next five years, more than 150 million technology-related jobs are expected to be created globally, led by demand for AI, data science and user experience to support digitalization.

Yet this fast-growing demand for talent has been met with somewhat less enthusiasm amongst job seekers around the world. Why?

A new breed of technologists

According to a global poll of technologists by Thoughtworks, several factors are behind the reduced enthusiasm of technology workers and job seekers.

While compensation and career advancement remain important, nearly half of the technologists surveyed indicated feeling “disconnected” and “underappreciated” in the wake of the pandemic.

Remote-working arrangements had made vital collaborative workplace processes such as training, culture building and camaraderie much more difficult. There was also a perceptible shift in what candidates wanted and expected of employers in the pandemic era. More than 90% of technologists in the survey valued having their opinions heard and considered, working in an inclusive workplace, and working in roles that enable technology to make the world a better place.

Too much automation in talent hunts?

Even when we are in a job candidates’ market, organizations that have turned to tools like automation and algorithms to make the recruitment and talent retention process more efficient may actually have turned some tech talent away. The need to make tech talent feel accepted and valued may have been relegated to the back seat.

Faced with pressure to find and retain talent, the adoption of technology to free up time and resources can transform the HR function into a strategic function that delivers on business impact. However, while the use of AI in talent acquisition is expected to grow, it also poses challenges, such as potentially introducing bias into the hiring process.

Also, when hiring becomes automated and driven by AI, critical soft skills and processes such as those in communication, collaboration and teamwork can remain overlooked or even undervalued. Yet these are core components of what technologists of today are looking for. 

Technology can be used to identify promising talent from a large candidate pool; however, it is ultimately the candidate-interviewer relationship built during the recruitment process—and what it reflects about the company’s core values—that will convince the best people to come on board.

Rather than streamlining HR processes or trying to hire frantically in fast-growing fields like data science, organizations should be more open to hiring inquisitive, engaged, and passionate talent from diverse backgrounds. This is not to downplay hard skills, but rather to highlight the need to implement a criteria spectrum accounting for both specific technical abilities and cultural characteristics and values.

For example, intangible traits such as intellectual curiosity or resilient in the face of uncertainty are prized and hard-earned attributes that are critical for a long and successful tech career.

Building a culture of diversity and inclusivity

The pandemic may be a cause or catalyst behind why today’s workers have developed renewed desires to feel a greater sense of belonging and purpose at work. AI-driven hiring processes may have also caused organizations to focus divergently on what matters to talent.

What can organizations do to align with the new reality? They should re-evaluate HR mindsets, soften AI-driven hiring processes and implement cultural change to help talent to learn and grow holistically, in diverse, inclusive teams, especially amid pandemic-driven challenges. Every employee should feel accepted and empowered to be authentic, encouraged to voice opinions, allowed to make and learn from mistakes as part of a team that figures things out together.

On top of making hiring processes more diverse, employers should also allow people to have the freedom to take on ‘stretch roles’ and explore different tracks throughout their career within the organization. These initiatives also need to be supplemented with strong mentorship programs.

For new hires, dedicated on-boarding and training programs can provide both classroom and on-the-job learning as a key differentiator in developing but retaining talent.

While implementing new, diverse hiring practices as well as cultivating values that are more human or people-centric is no easy feat and remains a long-drawn journey. Yet, in order to thrive in a fast-evolving tech future, this is exactly what entire organizations must collectively (and willingly) embark on.