By Gurvinder Singh, TechRank
Many people apply for jobs but aren’t asked to attend an interview. It is unfortunately the case that 72% of businesses say they struggle to find candidates with the right skills when they are recruiting.
Is there simply a lack of skilled applicants or is something wrong with the recruitment process itself?
To help improve the process, many job boards and recruitment agencies use automated keyword filtering to quickly narrow down relevant CVs. Those using a lot of industry keywords have around a 30% better chance of being hired. Yet, this process is almost definitely filtering out some highly-suitable, yet keyword sparse, CVs.
Are CVs really a good measure of technical skills? In my experience…no.
People can essentially write whatever they want on their CV knowing that recruiters are unlikely to complete thorough checks. If experience or achievements are not be entirely accurate CVs become sales tools favouring applicants competent at selling themselves (and using the right keywords), rather than those producing accurate and comparable summaries of skills.
Additionally, CVs are often judged based on interpretation and multiple biases, e.g. the quality of written English. If you’re hiring a copywriter, written English is important. If you’re hiring for a technical role, it’s far less important.
Even when the CV is written well and lists suitable skills and experience, it’s still hard to assess actual skill levels. CVs don’t show, for example, if an applicant had a lot of support in their previous role or whether they’ve allowed their technical skills to go rusty. It’s all drawn out by inference rather than verifiable data.
Current solutions to tech recruitment challenges
Aware of some of these issues, tech recruiters sometimes add technical interviews or even technical challenges for applicants to complete. These help to pin down applicants’ actual skill levels in the specific tech stack they will be working with.
Technical interviews are relatively resource-light to conduct, yet they still require a technologist to design and deliver the interview, taking time away from the project delivery.
Technical challenges are a more accurate test of skills but are also more expensive and time-consuming to design and run.
And while these technical additions to the recruitment process help accurately assess applicants’ skills, they still rely on the CVs sent on by recruitment agencies and therefore still suffer from automated filtering and agency bias.
Improving tech recruitment by ditching CVs
The tech recruitment process would be greatly improved if we could ditch the CV altogether and focused on accurately assessing the crucial technical skills.
The ideal skills test would be conducted by a third-party, reducing the expense and in-house resource drain, and be customised to the employer’s tech stack and project requirements.
If you need someone well-versed in the MEAN stack, you should test them on a combination of MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, and Node.js challenges. Yet, another web application may require someone experienced using the LAMP stack. Simply inviting someone for interview based on their “web application development experience” won’t distinguish between these very different skill sets and may lead to hiring the wrong person.
Besides assessing based on skills rather than CVs, these tech challenges can also be run at the very top of the recruitment funnel, quickly and accurately filtering applicants down based on their skills. For employers who allow remote working, this can also help attract top talent from around the world.
Improving the process for applicants
Having a clear expectation of the requirements is also useful for candidates. No one wants to spend time going for an interview only to find out that the job didn’t match their expectations. And no one wants to feel out of their depth in a technical role.
Technical challenges right at the start of the application process make obvious what the job will entail and what skills are required, leading applicants to self-filter based on their skills.
The interview itself will be more useful if both the employer and candidate know what technologies the project will involve. Rather than asking questions to assess skills, the interview can focus on assessing the candidate’s ‘fit’ into the company culture and their ‘soft skills’, safe in the knowledge that interviewees have the required blend of skills.
Despite the difficulty of hiring staff, I believe technology will lead us to a brighter future. Application processes will be fairer for candidates and easier for employers when the new technical assessments used. It is quite possible that CVs will become a thing of the past!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gurvinder Singh is the co-founder of TechRank. TechRank sources, expertly tests and objectively ranks tech talent helping companies hire the best, and most capable person for the job. By testing candidates for the level of skill the position requires, businesses can make an objective decision about the person they hire to fill a vacant tech role.
Gurvinder’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gurvinder-singh/