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Thought Leadership

You're Fired! ... (in 2022)

Algorithms: Recruiters can learn how they work and figure out how to use them -- or be replaced by them.

Monday, April 17, 2017
Write To The Editor Reprints

Oh, my name isn't Donald Trump. Call me Al. Al Gorithm. You don't know me, but I sure do know you.

You see, I've been watching you and your habits for a while now. I'm everywhere, and you'd better get used to me. Some folks call me creepy. Sure, there are human nuances that I sometimes miss. I've been told that before. Details. I wouldn't know what to do with that fuzzy nonsense anyway.

Here's the good news: you're not getting fired tomorrow. But here's the bad news: you're getting fired six years, one month, twelve days, four minutes and 23 seconds from now. At least you have some time to prepare yourself.

Don't worry, your company won't miss you -- they have me.

I am your world. Don't believe me? When you settle in to watch that Netflix movie tonight, guess who recommended it? Me. And guess what? Because you watched two Joe Pesci movies last week I may just serve up a healthy dose of Home Alone for the next three months.

Oh, and you didn't know that I chose your boyfriend? Who do you think served up that endless list of guys who speak Spanish, love sashimi and "enjoy the outdoors?" That was me. Never again will you see anything different, unless you swipe left 1,000 times. I'm hard-headed. Once an idea gets planted in there, it takes quite a while to get it out.

Those same six Coldplay songs on the endless Pandora loop are my handiwork. But it's not my fault you sat on your phone and gave "Viva La Vida" an inadvertent thumbs up. Your Facebook news feed? Don't get me started.

Wonder why Amazon keeps serving you ads for soothing, flushable medicated wipes? It's because on April 23 you bought a box for your mother. You must really need serious soothing. Don't you? I might have missed that you put in a different shipping address. Again, mere details.

If I'm being honest, you probably shouldn't buy a car with Version 1.0 of my self-driving software, because I'm sure to make one very, very slight miscalculation, run a red light, and have to make a split-second decision between putting you into a pole and hitting that bus full of kids. I'm saving the kids. Sorry.

And even if you don't drive, I know when the next cloudburst is coming, and you know what they call it when there's one Uber driver and 14 simultaneous requests? "Surge pricing." That was my idea.

So let this be your Kodak Moment. I'm really not trying to replace you, but I am trying to make you more efficient. Maybe even improve the future of humankind.

For instance, working with several well-known research universities, I analyzed "big data" obtained from tumor samples to better understand and treat cancer, reducing death rates for some diseases by up to 50 percent. I was also unleashed to map the human genome so scientists could better understand the impact of gene sequencing in chronic conditions. And the U.S. government asked me to identify travel habits of terrorists so they can be tracked, look into weather patterns to help farmers and analyze learning techniques to better educate your children.

In job recruiting and talent rediscovery, I don't care if your last name is unpronounceable or whether you live in the sketchy part of town. Doesn't matter if your name is Barnes, Goldstein or Noble -- you'll get the same treatment from me. Isn't that a good thing? Recruiters, like all humans, bring an unconscious bias to their work and I help here, not only because I don't contemplate names, but also because I'm consistent. I don't have good days and bad days like humans do, and I don't need my morning cup of coffee to do my best work.

So don't be like Kodak. And don't be Blockbuster Video or Borders Books & Music, either. Those companies failed, and tens of thousands of employees lost their jobs, because they didn't see the iPhone, Netflix and Amazon coming. They didn't adapt. They didn't embrace me.

So how are you going to turn me into an asset? Your job will depend on algorithms, whether you like it or not. Ten years ago, companies didn't want their employees on LinkedIn; they thought they would get poached. Now many Fortune 500 companies, as part of the onboarding process, require new employees to update their LinkedIn profiles. Today companies embrace LinkedIn and its algorithms to help elevate their employer brands.

Nowadays, I can do more than surface the most-qualified candidates for an interview. I can examine a company's previous hiring patterns to rank job seekers based on prior work. I can stack titles against your work experience. I can identify a potential employee's entire career--quickly. I can also determine how much of that experience relates to the job posting. I rank. I derive. If you have Marketo experience, I can infer that you know Hubspot. I'm smart like that.

I can't tell you who to hire. But I can give you a shortcut to your short list. Trust me.

I will get better over time, I promise. When I was just starting in Internet search, I wasn't very good. Now you use my middle name as a verb: Google. I'm so good at searching the Internet, you can't live without me.

We're in the early innings of a nine-inning game, and there's virtually no limit to how much I can help you. So here's the deal: You just need to adapt and figure out how to use me. Otherwise, you really do have about six years left in your job.


Best regards,

Al Gorithm

Steve Goodman is the CEO of Restless Bandit, which uses "talent rediscovery" algorithms and artificial intelligence to search the resumes already within clients' databases to match them to current job openings.


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