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Math can help you get the job…at Google

And I don’t mean the 2+2’s and all those good, elementary type of equations. I am talking about a long, complicated mathematical computation called an algorithm that can help you get a job. Now what company is most associated with algorithms? Google of course!

Now ranked the best place to work in America, Google is using a formula to determine if you are worthy of being talked to by one of their continuously busy recruiters. Slashdot has a bunch of comments on the issue but I figured I would add my own perspective.

If you are hiring as many people as Google is planning on (they plan on doubling their current workforce), and you don’t want a large expenditure in something that isn’t a core competency (namely: recruiting), do something that is in your core competency (create a formula that matches people with job openings and is intelligent about it) to fix it.

There is a lot of “cool” potential from this if anybody outside of Google gets to see a piece of it but I think this definitely could have some implications for corporate recruiters that isn’t positive for anyone.

No company is like Google so running an algorithm-based formula will probably not work for 99.999% of companies out there. Most places do not have that expertise. None the less, this development will spark interest in “smart” systems that are actually dumb at ranking resumes. Which of course leads to…

Panic! From job seekers specifically. If corporate recruiters get this bug, only those resumes who cooperate with all kinds of “smart” systems will work. It also increases barriers to application that are not needed. Most companies aren’t pulling a couple hundred thousand resumes a month with little out of network advertising.

With everything that could possibly go wrong, there is some opportunity for three groups of people:

  1. Employment lawyers: Who will get to represent job seeker and employer when an algorithm shows a questionable bias against a certain group. And the will be paid well.
  2. HR vendors: Those who continue to be on the cutting edge and make smart technological decisions and advancements win. And they will be paid well.
  3. Third-party recruiters: When the system breaks or sends away too many or too few people, third-party recruiters will be called in to clean up the mess. And they will be paid well.

I think the idea is interesting but probably not going to be useful outside of Mountain View.

Tip of that hat to Fritz for sending this my way!

By Lance Haun

Strategy for The Starr Conspiracy. Former HR pro. Portland guy (Go Blazers!) and WSU alum (Go Cougs!). I get to write about what I want here.

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