A few days ago I received a newsletter via LinkedIn: "Software analysing applicants and CV's in context." The idea is to assess and filter incoming applications through an algorithm. Applicants are obliged to provide their CV's in standardized formats (as it is already the case in electronic forms). The algorithm evaluates the relevance of the provided information with regard to the desired position.


The approach sounds attractive, even though the idea is not at all new. Automatic pre-selection could save a fair amount of time for recruiters. Instead of having to read all incoming application letters (and accompanying material), they could focus on those CV's that make it to the program's shortlist. Doing it that way requires, of course, a hell lot of faith in the infallibility of algorithms, composed by humans. Most recruiters in big companies are used to working with analyis-software are thus aware of the imperfections of algorithms. Most of them use them with certain precautions, doing (superficial) manual cross checks. The problems lie elsewhere.

  1. The approach to transform information into quantitive data is likely to lead to automatic optimization-imperatives as it was the case with SEO until not so long ago, where agencies with professional manipulation services made tons of millions of bucks. The optimized information turned out to be meaningless cascades of keywords. Until Google changed the algorithm...
  2. The obligation to present the story of your (professional) in a standardized format (to be processable for the system) leads inevitably to a loss of storytelling in the CV. Good recruiters draw meaningful conclusions regarding an applicant's personality from the way he/she presents his/her career (how is the CV structured, graphic design etc. etc.). Even though the interpretation of meta communication is as risky as an imperfect algorithm, it should be considered twice to give up a dimension, of which many HR-experts say that, due to its intuitive unconscious nature, it can work as a valuable corrective to the carefully presented (and omitted) "facts".

A better scenario

Going for the traditional way (applicants present their CV's in individual formats), PLUS inviting applicants to participate in an online based professional personal diagnostic process is a more reliable way to get an accurate and balanced assessment of hard skills, soft skills (very importantant in project based organizations!) and compatibility with the company-culture.

At workinprogress Claudia Schwingenschlögl is our expert for both classical recruiting and online based personal diagnostics. She works with different tools and systems. You can contact her via E-Mail: cs@workinprogress.at .

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