- Study estimates that 27 million people in the United States can be classified as “hidden workers,” or qualified job candidates who are screened out by AI
- Systems might exclude candidates due to factors such as long-term unemployment or lacking non-essential skills
- Researchers recommend that companies update AI and job descriptions for better matches with qualified appliants
Summary by Dirk Langeveld
Companies using artificial intelligence services to screen job candidates may be inadvertently rejecting millions of qualified candidates, according to research from the Harvard Business School and Accenture.
The recently published study surveyed 8,720 “hidden workers,” or those who don’t end up connecting with a business despite having skills that would benefit the company, and 2,250 business executives in the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany. The researchers estimate that more than 27 million people in the U.S. can be classified as hidden workers.
The findings come amid ongoing complaints by business owners about the ability to find workers during the economic recovery from COVID-19, despite ample job openings.
- Businesses have increasingly turned to AI services to screen job candidates, but the automation of the process has also resulted in more job applications being submitted per position
- Companies have often responded by putting in stricter filters to cull the number of candidate they’re willing to consider
- Nine out of 10 business executives admitted that the programs eliminate qualified candidates, sometimes by disqualifying people due to minor details or for lacking skills that are preferred but not required
- In more than half of the companies surveyed, AI systems eliminated candidates with employment gaps of six months or more – a more common circumstance in the wake of long-term joblessness occasioned by the pandemic
- 44 percent of hidden workers said finding work during 2020 was just as hard as searching for a job before the pandemic
- Companies that hired hidden workers were 36 percent less likely to face talent and skills shortages than companies that excluded them
- The researchers recommend that companies craft job descriptions that focus on essential skills for position, and have AI find candidates based on skills matches rather than eliminating those lacking certain skills