In a recent study published in the American Sociological Review, Kate Weisshaar, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, examined how employers respond to applications from candidates who have taken time away from work to stay at home with their children, compared to those who are currently employed or had recently been laid off. To do so, she submitted 3,374 fictitious résumés to job listings in 50 American cities, representing these three types of applicants, and measured how many were called back for interviews or more information. Weisshaar’s findings, which she discussed at the Harvard Business Review last week, suggest a significant bias among employers against parents who take career breaks to raise children:
The results show just how heavily parents reentering the workforce are penalized for their career gap: 15.3% of the employed mothers, 9.7% of the unemployed mothers, and 4.9% of the stay-at-home mothers received a callback. The results were similar for fathers. While 14.6% of the employed fathers and 8.8% of unemployed fathers received a callback, only 5.4% of stay-at-home fathers did.
Put simply, stay-at-home parents were about half as likely to get a callback as unemployed parents and only one-third as likely as employed parents.
To better understand this apparent bias against stay-at-home parents, Weisshaar also conducted a national survey in which respondents were asked to evaluate fictitious résumés that differed only in whether the applicant was continuously employed, had been laid off, or had taken time off to take care of children. Respondents, she found, “viewed stay-at-home parents as less reliable, less deserving of a job, and—the biggest penalty—less committed to work, compared with unemployed applicants.”
Springtime is always a busy season for home improvement and gardening businesses, so the largest of these businesses in the US are embarking on massive hiring sprees to fill tens of thousands of seasonal positions, some of which will turn into permanent roles. The Home Depot, the largest home improvement retailer in the US, plans to hire 80,000 employees for the coming season, while its main competitor Lowe’s is looking for 53,000 workers.
To assist in this massive recruiting drive in the context of a historically tight labor market, Home Depot is launching a series of new technological tools to help it recruit and onboard tens of thousands of new employees as efficiently as possible. In a press release last week, the company described an app that allows candidates who have submitted applications to self-schedule their in-person interviews at their convenience. The press release adds that 80 percent of candidates have used Candidate Self-Service since Home Depot began piloting the app in November:
Candidate Self-Service is the latest in a series of enhancements The Home Depot has made to its application process. Last spring, the company saw a 50 percent increase in candidates after rolling out its 15-minute application, Mobile Apply and Text-to-Apply capabilities.
LinkedIn has announced two new features for its platform: one to help improve pay transparency in the job market and the other aimed at making scheduling easier for recruiters. The social media company, acquired by Microsoft in 2016, announced Salary Insights and LinkedIn Scheduler in separate blog posts on Tuesday.
LinkedIn Scheduler is an InMail feature that will allow recruiters to share their schedules and easily set up interviews with job candidates, creating a more seamless experience for both parties. Rather than engaging in back-and-forth messages to set up a time to speak after agreeing to an interview, LinkedIn can sync with Office 365 or Google calendars to provide a listing of available time slots so candidates can select and confirm their appointment times. They will then need to enter their contact information, and those details will by placed onto a meeting invite on the recruiter’s calendar.
“Imagine sending a dozen InMails before lunch, grabbing a bite, and coming back to see your calendar is suddenly full of candidate calls for the next week, without you lifting a finger,” the blog post states. “That’s the power of LinkedIn Scheduler.”
Salary Insights will allow job seekers to see a salary range for job listings, either reported by the employer or estimated based on data collected from LinkedIn Salary. LinkedIn claims that this feature will help companies attract applicants whose salary expectations are more closely aligned with what the company is prepared to pay for the listed position, so they won’t need to spend time dancing around the compensation conversation. Companies will be encouraged to post their own salary information; if they don’t, the LinkedIn estimated salary will appear. In some instances, LinkedIn may not have the data to provide an estimate, which will be the only cases where a job posting won’t include any sort of salary estimate.
Diversity, new interviewing tools, data, and artificial intelligence are the four trends set to have the biggest impact on recruiting in the coming year, according to LinkedIn’s latest Global Recruiting Trends report. Based on a survey of over 9,000 talent leaders and hiring managers worldwide, along with a series of expert interviews, the report underscores the growing role of technology in shaping how companies meet their hiring goals, of which diversity is increasingly paramount. Nonetheless, while many HR leaders see these trends as important, the number of organizations fully acting on them lags far behind.
Diversity was the top trend by far, with 78 percent of respondents saying it was very or extremely important, though only 53 percent said their organizations had mostly or completely adopted diversity-oriented recruiting. In recent years, diversity has evolved from a compliance issue to a major driver of culture and performance, as more and more organizations recognize its bottom-line value. This shift was reflected in the LinkedIn report, with 62 percent of the companies surveyed saying they believed boosting diversity would have a positive impact on financial performance and 78 percent saying they were pursuing it to improve their culture. Additionally, 49 percent are looking to ensure that their workforce better reflects the diversity of their customer base.
Diversity was the only top trend identified in LinkedIn’s survey that wasn’t directly related to technology, but technology is definitely influencing how organizations are pursuing it. In the past year, we have seen the emergence of new software and tools to support diversity and inclusion. The aim of these tools is to remove the human error of unconscious bias from the recruiting process, but it’s important to be aware that automated processes can also develop built-in biases and end up replicating the very problem they are meant to solve. This is an issue we’ve been following in our research at CEB, now Gartner; CEB Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council members can read more of our insights on algorithmic bias here.
The development of new interview tools and techniques was identified as the second most important trend, with 56 percent saying it was important. The LinkedIn survey found that the most common areas where traditional interviews fail are assessing candidates’ soft skills (63 percent), understanding candidates’ weaknesses (57 percent), the biases of interviewers (42 percent), and the process taking too long (36 percent). The report highlights five new interviewing techniques, all enabled by technology, that aim to address these problems:
The jobs search costs for new graduates can be enormous, and not everyone who wants to work in a major city can afford to travel there for job interviews. In the UK, where socioeconomic diversity is becoming an ever-greater focal point of companies’ diversity and inclusion practices, Barclays’s is doing something to help candidates manage that cost. People Management’s Emily Burt has the details on their initiative, which is meant to improve economic diversity by helping graduates who can’t afford to stay in cities while interviewing:
The month-long ‘Barclays Graduate Rooms’ scheme will allow graduates to apply on a first-come, first-served basis for two nights of free accommodation in studio apartments close to their interview locations, regardless of whether their interview is with Barclays or another organisation.
“We hope that by offering free accommodation in some of the most popular cities for graduate jobs, we’ll go some way to helping those who would otherwise struggle,” said Sue Hayes, managing director of personal banking at Barclays.
Barclays here is acknowledging how much of a barrier to entry these costs can be to candidates from outside major urban areas and less affluent backgrounds:
In a peer benchmarking session at the ReimagineHR conference CEB, now Gartner, is hosting in Washington, DC, recruiting leaders representing hundreds of organizations expressed uncertainty about the role of technology in their function and its impact on their work.
Previous conversations we have had with recruiting leaders have suggested that technology investments were mostly focused on the front end of the process—sourcing and branding—but participants in Wednesday afternoon’s session said managing the talent pool was actually the top priority for technology investment, with sourcing second and branding lagging far behind. Those who chose talent pool management were primarily high-volume recruiters looking for a more efficient way to sift through thousands of applicants per open position.
When asked if they thought applying text analysis to job descriptions would have a demonstrable effect on hiring for diversity, recruiting leaders were skeptical. Only 14 percent believed it could, while the rest said no or that they were unsure. Textio and SAP are working on text analytics solutions to aid diversity efforts, but this uncertainty from their potential customer base underscores the idea that technology is not a cure-all for diversity.
In recent years, many organizations have been looking for ways to make their recruiting processes less dependent on the bias and subjectivity of hiring managers, whether by using technology to hold blind interviews, making hiring decisions with pre-hire skills tests, or handing the process over entirely to an algorithm. Udemy leadership coach Lawrence Miller has a different approach, as he explains to Fast Company’s Stephanie Vozza, which entails having candidates interview each other rather than be interviewed by a manager:
Miller found the best employees for his Maryland-based management-consulting firm when he turned the interview process upside down, bringing in candidates in small groups, and asking them to interview him and his team and then each other. … When they completed their interviews, Miller gave each person a piece of paper that had these four questions:
- Who would you hire and why?
- Who do you think is most technically competent to do this job?
- Who has the best skills?
- Who would you choose to be stranded with in an airport during a snowstorm?
“The last question was a good indicator of likeability,” says Miller. “We found that question to be the most reliable, because in the kind of consulting we did, it was a really good predictor of who would succeed.”
Other experts Vozza spoke to warned, however, that this process can have drawbacks, such as putting introverts at a disadvantage and making it more difficult for candidates to get a genuine view into the organization. Another major issue with this practice is that having candidates interview each other creates an entirely new opportunity for bias.