If we rely on AI to hire staff, we risk losing truly skilled workers


Skills don’t define you; they serve you. And yet somewhere along the line, employers and hiring managers seem to have lost sight of that.

In the rush to define, document, and categorise skills – driven by technology, digital platforms, and now exacerbated by AI – we are in danger of losing sight of a tenet that sits at the heart of every employee’s value: skills are just one component that make every single member of the workforce more than the sum of their parts.

AI has already infiltrated multiple parts of the human resources process, from hiring to training to evaluating.

Skills by themselves aren’t productive. They become productivity tools when put into effect by someone with the ability to properly harness and apply them.

In an age where technology can scan, sort, and select candidates based on keywords, it’s easy to be seduced into thinking we have reached a new apex in our ability to place people into the right roles with ever-decreasing margins of error. In fact, there’s a real danger that – without proper consideration given to the whole person as an employee – we are hurtling in the opposite direction.

AI is not hellbent on stealing all our jobs. Neither is it a panacea for efficiency when it comes to recruitment and retention. It’s one of many tools, which if properly applied, can be extremely effective in helping humans to manage transformational change in labour markets.

However, using it to hasten the drive to reduce employees to a list of keywords, or focus their self-development and marketability entirely on technical skills as a measure of their employability, is a trend that has to be reversed.

The problem is that, as much as many hiring managers will talk about interest in durable “soft” skills, their systems and practices are not set up to prioritise them.

And how can they be, when we have been conditioned to celebrate jobs and careers platforms’ ability to assign people to technical skills silos with increasing levels of granularity?

While this has never been the best way of assessing people’s value and potential, in previous decades the harm caused has been offset by the fact that skills revolutions have been slower to arrive.

So, while rehiring or retraining teams to be proficient in a new set of skills was never easy or cheap, it was an accepted cost of doing business for an extended period of time.

Yet, in the face of accelerating change, accepting that entire workforces will need to be replaced or retrained with increasing levels of frequency is no longer a viable strategy.

Thanks to durable human skills like teamworking, critical thinking, and leadership, no amount of new technologies or ChatGPT updates are going to lead to the wholesale replacement of humans in the workforce. Whereas clinging to a technical skills-based mindset one day might.

That being said, let’s not suggest that technical skills, specialisms, and experience are no longer important. It’s just that they’re no longer as singularly important as they used to be.

Organisations able to look at employees with a 60:40 ratio of “soft” skills to technical skills are probably still not going far enough to fully future-proof their workforces, but they’re doing much better than those operating on the current 20:80 balance, or worse.

If it sounds like the kind of paradigm shift this would take is too onerous, it honestly needn’t be. Rather than turn entire recruitment processes on their head, just by more evenly factoring innately human capabilities into the task of hiring will plant an important seed of change.

What does that mean in practice?

Instead of hiring the most technically proficient and experienced candidate, hire a technically proficient and experienced candidate, who can also demonstrate an ability to collaborate, respond to criticism, and adapt to unpredictable change easily. Then, when the job they were hired to do inevitably changes, their transferable value to the business can be retained and reassigned.

Because at the end of the hiring process, come Monday morning it’s a human being that will show up at their desk or report for duty, not a collection of keywords. Isn’t it worth investing the time and energy to look beyond algorithmic outputs to see the whole person in front of you, and what they’re truly capable of?

Patrick Darcy is the CEO of human potential platform Capability.Co.

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About Abu Hamza

Abu Hamza is member of Business Bee Staff

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