Leonardo da Vinci wrote the first CV in the 15th century when he applied for a job to the Duke of Milan. There hasn’t been much change in the recruitment industry in the intervening 500-plus years.
It seems incredible that a man renowned for his innovative approach to engineering and the arts, from parachutes to early flying machines and the Mona Lisa, had to distill his skills to fit on a single piece of paper.
The CV as a mere snapshot of ability perfectly illustrates my belief that the job application and recruitment process needs an overhaul for most industries, especially for highly technical roles. I struggle to see how the 21st century’s equivalent of da Vinci can reach their full potential when their employment history has to fit on a standard piece of paper, their aspirations must be shared in a 45-minute interview with one person and proving their ability usually happens in a short task.
Steve Jobs, for example, dropped out of high school and college to focus on the early Apple technology. How could he have contained all his genius in one CV, or conveyed his talent to people who don’t understand computer science?
The innovation index is far too low in recruitment – and I want to change that.
In other industries, we are seeing sophisticated, intelligent technologies come into play that are transforming operations. For instance, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ chatbot can effectively interact with customers in 13 different languages. This AI development responds to the demand from global travelers to receive customer service.
Why isn’t the recruitment sector similarly responding to the demand for better assessment of technical talent? Where is the recruitment AI that can support the need for a diverse, global workforce with digital skills?
Innovation in recruitment requires a shift in both hiring mindset and technology. Too often world-class coders may be unable to fully demonstrate their transformative value to a company because the recruitment process doesn’t set the right tasks, or the interviewers aren’t versed in the language of code.
The solution lies in recruiter mindset – challenging the biases and habits that are stifling innovation because of the archaic way businesses hire for talent.
The first hurdle to overcome is to readdress the lack of technical understanding in the industry – and see the opportunity that technology provides. There is huge value to be found in readymade, off the shelf AI products that provide super-smart ways of managing data. Put simply, the technology can provide a clever interface to accurately assess skills for technical roles.
From a candidate standpoint, these intelligent products pave the way for what I see as the future of job seeking – integrations with consumer tech products: “Siri, send my profile to top companies.”
By assessing people’s learning habits – how you spend your time online, and your search history – these smart interfaces will be able to look at potential jobs advertised and work out what is the perfect match for you.
The second way to innovate in recruitment is by reducing the fear around tech – and the idea that AI will steal everyone’s jobs. I have experienced resistance to integrating smart technology in recruitment in case there’s a sci-fi horror scenario where the machines take over and make someone’s career redundant.
This is untrue. There are things machine can’t conquer: negotiation, persuasion, emotion. When it comes to recruiting for sales roles, these are vital skills that simply cannot be assessed by a robot. It requires human-to-human understanding.
However, AI can transform the ease and success of placing technical roles, like front end developers, software architects and programmers. This should always be supported by humans – humans developing the code, humans assessing other stages of the recruitment process, and humans adding that vital level of humanity that’s required for continually innovating and improving the technology.
Innovation should be part of the everyday recruitment language and not a niche buzzword. Recruiters can transform peoples’ lives through job opportunities. I see it as our responsibility to continue to do what we can to make sure we’re getting the right people in the right places.
I think da Vinci would be horrified to see that even though we’re able to fly planes and spacecraft, CVs haven’t changed in six centuries. As every sector around us advances, we owe it to the great historical innovators to get recruitment up to speed.