COMP NEWS – Automated hiring software is rejecting qualified candidates on an alarming scale, according to a new report from Harvard Business School.

Automated resume-scanning software is contributing to a “broken” hiring system in the US, says a new report from Harvard Business School. Such software is used by employers to filter job applicants, but is mistakenly rejecting millions of viable candidates, say the study’s authors. It’s contributing to the problem of “hidden workers” — individuals who are able and willing to work, but remain locked out of jobs by structural problems in the labor market.

It is estimated that over 75% of US employers use some sort of automated hiring software. That number rises to almost 100% for Fortune 500 companies. These software programs may apply rigid criteria or rule patterns when scanning resumes, filtering applicants into “good” and “bad” categories. The problem is that these patterns may be overly simplistic.

For example, some systems automatically reject candidates with gaps of longer than six months in their employment history, without ever asking the cause of this absence. It might be due to a pregnancy, because they were caring for an ill family member, or simply because of difficulty finding a job in a recession. More specific examples cited by one of the study’s author, Joseph Miller, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal include hospitals who only accepted candidates with experience in “computer programming” on their CV, when all they needed were workers to enter patient data into a computer. Or, a company that rejected applicants for a retail clerk position if they didn’t list “floor-buffing” as one of their skills, even when candidates’ resumes matched every other desired criteria.


In the early 2010s, the average corporate job posting attracted 120 applicants, says the study, but by the end of the decade this figure had risen to 250 applicants per job. Companies have responded to this deluge by deploying brutally rigid filters in their automated filtering software. This has had the effect of rejecting viable candidates, contributing to the large pool of job-seekers.

Read the full story about automated hiring software rejecting candidates here.

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