AI tools are being used to boost hiring efforts

AI tools are being used to boost hiring efforts

More employers are using artificial intelligence to boost recruitment efforts, as a result of a chronic shortage of workers, which has made it harder for them to fill job openings.

By automating previously manual tasks — like pre-screening job applicants for basic qualifications, checking for professional credentials and licenses, or scheduling follow-up interviews — employers hope to streamline the hiring process and get available workers before competitors move in.

Artificial intelligence capabilities, like conversational AI software, can speed up the early back- and forth emails, texts and other communications with applicants and get strong candidates in front of recruiters. Other AI-enabled tools are being used to speed up the employee onboarding process, to get new hires oriented, trained and set up with computers, business apps and corporate email accounts.

Amanda Thompson, the Chattanooga, Tenn. based business chief people officer, said that trucking company U.S. Xpress Enterprises Inc. uses conversational AI software to handle most of the early stages of the hiring process, including text exchanges with job applicants. Ms. Thompson said that the supply-chain disruptions that occurred in the Covid 19 epidemic have resulted in a soaring demand for truckers and a lack of available drivers. She said it was a highly competitive labor market.

She said if drivers are sitting at a truck stop, or at home, and they're ready to apply for a job, we want to make it as easy as possible.

The Labor Department said in December that the U.S. hiring had slowed, with employers adding 199,000 new jobs, compared to the average monthly job growth of 537,000 in 2021. The slowdown is due to companies inability to find workers as labor supply remains tight, according to some economists.

80% of 400 human resources and other corporate officials surveyed this year by information-technology trade group CompTIA said they expect AI to have a significant impact on HR and recruiting in the year ahead. CompTIA said most companies are already using AI in candidate screening, onboarding, competency assessment and career planning.

The demand is at the attention of investors. Paradox Inc., a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based startup that developed AI recruiting tools used by U.S. Xpress, announced last week a $200 million fundraising round that lifts its valuation to roughly 1.5 billion.

Aaron Matos, the company's chief executive, said people are looking at old systems and saying this isn't going to get it done. Matos said that what we take out is the waiting.

Saleem Khaja, co-founder and chief operating officer at WorkLLama, said that shifting workforce demographics mean that talent is more comfortable with employers via messaging apps rather than getting on a call.

U.S. Xpress, which operates a fleet of more than 6,500 trucks and 13,000 trailers, said in the fourth quarter it had a 40% increase in the number of experienced hires compared to the same period in 2020. The company currently has more than 7,000 drivers, including full-time employees and independent contractors. Ms. Thompson said that the AI platform has helped reduce the time it takes to get a new driver through the application process, and the company payroll, from several weeks — or even months — to a week or so.

Jason Pyle, the president of Harvey Nash USA, said his company's experience with AI recruiting tools has been mixed. He said tools tend to miss the crucial aspects of successfully placing job candidates, such as understanding an employer's broader goals or giving a sense of company culture. Our experience is that these tools fall short in delivering start to finish, Mr. Pyle said.

Some lawmakers, regulators and analysts have called for closer scrutiny of the use of AI software in assessing job candidates. They say hiring bias can result from unintentional racial or gender stereotypes buried in data sets and algorithms.

In November of this year, the New York City CouncilYork City Council passed a bill that requires employers and staffing agencies to conduct a bias audit before using AI tools to screen job candidates.

It does not make hiring decisions or suggestions because of the platform that handles the administrative side of the process.