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Ep 426: AI Driven Talent Intelligence

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Expanding candidate pools, speeding up the recruiting process and diversity hiring are all key talent acquisition challenges in 2022. While technology is never a magic fix everything solution, it is becoming evident that as AI becomes more sophisticated, it can offer employers some of the tools needed to meet these challenges.

So what are the latest use cases for AI in talent acquisition, and how is it driving skills based decision making?

My guest this week is Andrea Shiah, Head of Talent Strategy and Transformation at Eightfold. Andrea was formerly Global Head of Talent Acquisition at American Express and has some unique insights into the development of AI in recruiting.

In the interview, we discuss:

• What it takes to be successful in the current recruiting landscape

• Modernising talent acquisition

• Speeding up recruiting using skills intelligence and automation

• The danger of leaving the strongest candidates on the table

• Using adjacent skills to broaden candidate pools

• DE&I and skills based decision making

Listen to this podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Find out more about eightfold’s Cultivate event here

Interview transcript:

Eightfold.ai (0s):
Support for this podcast comes from Eightfold.ai. Eightfold.ai delivers the talent intelligence platform in the most effective way for companies to retain top performers, upscale and rescale the workforce, recruit top talent efficiently, and reach diversity goals. Eightfold.ai’s deep learning artificial intelligence platform empowers enterprises to turn talent management into a competitive advantage.

Matt Alder (47s):
Hi there. This is Matt Alder. Welcome to Episode 426 of the Recruiting Future Podcast. Expanding candidate pools, speeding up the recruiting process, and diversity hiring are all key talent acquisition challenges in 2022. While technology is never a magic fix everything solution, it is becoming evident that as AI becomes more sophisticated, it can offer employers some of the tools they need to meet these challenges. What are the latest use cases for AI in talent acquisition and how is it driving skills-based decision making?

Matt Alder (1m 27s):
My guest this week is Andrea Shiah, Head of Talent Strategy and Transformation at Eightfold. Andrea was formerly Global Head of Talent Acquisition at American Express and has some unique insights into the development of AI in recruiting. Hi, Andrea, and welcome to the podcast.

Andrea Shiah (1m 47s):
Thanks, Matt. It’s great to be here.

Matt Alder (1m 48s):
An absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Could you just introduce yourself and tell us what you do?

Andrea Shiah (1m 54s):
Yes, absolutely. My name is Andrea Shiah. I’m the Head of Talent Strategy and Transformation at Eightfold. I joined Eightfold about nine months ago. Prior to that, I actually had a 25-year career at American Express where I did a variety of pretty much a lot of different things working in almost every business unit. My last role there was as the head of global talent acquisition. In that role, I led a two-and-a-half-year transformation of the talent acquisition function globally. One of the things I did was implement Eightfold and I was amazed at what it enabled for us as a talent acquisition function.

Andrea Shiah (2m 34s):
My spoiler alert is I decided to join Eightfold. I am here now and working with talent leaders across industries and helping them really understand how AI can really impact their talent acquisition function pretty dramatically. It’s been a great role enjoying talking to a lot of people and a great place at interesting times.

Matt Alder (2m 56s):
Absolutely. Now, I really want to talk about the interesting times in some detail and really get the benefit of your expertise and experience. Before we do, just give us a little intro to Eightfold and what it does and a bit more about why were you compelled to join?

Andrea Shiah (3m 13s):
What’s incredible about Eightfold, I’m going to just take a step back and try and give you the simplest explanation that I can. So Eightfold has an amazing amount of data on skills. They have over one and a half billion data sets on skills and that’s about half the world’s workforce. What that means is they understand skills as it relates to different roles. They understand skills as how they fit into different jobs in companies and even in geographies. As a result, they see skills and how to build each to identify skills for candidates, employees, and even contractors.

Andrea Shiah (3m 53s):
They’re also, beyond just understanding the skills, able to understand the relationship between skills and the movement of individuals as they acquire skills. It’s amazing and very valuable. What happens is they take that intelligence and with our customers, what we do is we integrate it with their ATS platform. All of a sudden, all that information of all your hundreds of thousands or millions of applicants that have applied over the years, comes to life. All of a sudden, a company has incredible access to applicants who I think are equivalent to warm bleeds, right? They definitely have an interest in working for your company because they’ve applied for a job in your company in the past, but all of a sudden, everything about that candidate comes to life and you’re able to access it in such an easy way, right?

Andrea Shiah (4m 48s):
People don’t access it today because it’s so manual to look through and search through those candidates. All of a sudden, you can search through millions of candidates so easily. That’s the power of Eightfold in addition to the fact that you can also leverage their matching intelligence for even new candidates as you look on job boards. It’s amazing intelligence that impacts every aspect of the recruiting process.

Matt Alder (5m 11s):
Absolutely. Let’s talk a bit more about the times we’re going through and what your seeing successful organizations are doing. Obviously, it’s been a highly disruptive and continues to be a highly disruptive time. What are you seeing in the recruiting landscape at the moment and what is it that people are doing to be successful with all those challenges that are out there?

Andrea Shiah (5m 41s):
Yes, it’s just a fascinating time. I think if you look at the macroeconomic data, you’ll see why everybody. and pretty much everybody that we talk to that’s a talent acquisition leader is talking about the struggles they have to fill their roles, right? They can’t fill their roles fast enough. If you look at the macro environment, what’s happening is, right now, we’re seeing resignation rates that are really fueling open roles. Resignation rates are basically at 3% per month, that’s equivalent to 36% a year in the US. I know it’s pretty similar as we talk to leaders in other countries too, but in the US, we’re seeing a 3% or 36% a year resignation rate for the past five months.

Andrea Shiah (6m 28s):
That’s on average. That’s creating a lot of demand for roles to be filled. Then what we’re seeing in terms of open job rates of all jobs, we’re seeing almost a 7% open job rate. Actually, they’re more than double what the typical rate is in terms of resignations and open job rates so that’s what’s creating the pressure. What we’re seeing is a lot of companies are realizing this manual way that they have for their talent acquisition function has got to change because of the pressure points. The awareness of this is rising to the most senior leaders. What I think is exciting about that is they’re realizing that there are more things that need to be done and things need to be done differently.

Andrea Shiah (7m 15s):
We’re seeing a lot of companies now putting investments in to talent acquisition functions. I think they’re realizing it’s under-invested, it’s still very manual for the most, what recruiters do and reviewing their resumes. Companies are realizing they need to change this and starting to put more investments so that they can modernize their talent acquisition and become more efficient and more effective as a function. Lots of discussions happening along those lines set up by the background in the macroenvironment and the pain points that it’s creating.

Matt Alder (7m 48s):
Absolutely. I suppose there were a number of key areas that I’m seeing at talent acquisition leaders focus on. The one that comes up time and time again is speed. You’ve alluded to this a couple of times in the conversation. People are trying to speed up the way that they do recruiting. They might be taking steps out of the process. All kind of side kinds of things are happening, but it’s a challenge and people are having to recruit quickly because as you say, they have vacancies they need filling, but also with such competition for candidates, it’s about being able to convert candidates into hires before those candidates find loads of other opportunities.

Matt Alder (8m 32s):
What are you seeing in terms of speed and how can people effectively speed up their recruitment process?

Andrea Shiah (8m 39s):
That’s a great question. We’re seeing amazing results coming from our customers when you’ve got intelligence on skills and you have the automation of that. That’s a big difference-maker. I think the best way for me maybe to talk about this is to talk about different stages of the recruiting process, right? I’ll just break it down to the big chunks of the process. Starting with the sourcing, talking about the screening to get to your candidates slate, and then talking about the interviewing. If I just break down to those three parts of big parts of the recruiting process, if you’ve got the intelligence on skills, your recruiters are able to source in a much more effective way.

Andrea Shiah (9m 22s):
I talked about it earlier. Their ability to source from your ATS platform is really powerful. We have one of our customers last year who filled 41% of their roles from their former applicant pool of candidates, which I think is really powerful. They’re able to in there with the intelligence and find the candidates really quickly. They’re not starting from scratch, which is posting a requisition and hoping that people will apply. They’re actually proactively sourcing. The intelligence gives you ability to go in there, really identify the strong matches so that your sourcers can focus their efforts really effectively. Part of that is also the CRM.

Andrea Shiah (10m 5s):
I think any marketer knows the most effective part of marketing is your ability to target your audience. Intelligence gives you the ability to have a very relevant message to them because you’re talking about their match and the right roles for them. The sourcing speeds up because your sources are able to find candidates in a really effective and efficient way, and focus their efforts in a really clear way. Then when you talk about screening and getting to your final candidate lists, they can actually screen hundreds of resumes in minutes. I think one of the things I discovered when I was looking historically at our screening with the matching intelligence is a lot of the recruiters left some of the strongest candidates on the table because it’s almost impossible to manually go through hundreds of resumes when you’ve got a lot of open roles that you’re trying to fill.

Andrea Shiah (10m 58s):
What I found was recruiters would go in, they choose maybe their top five or 10 candidates, and they would proceed with a slate. Now, all of a sudden they have the speed and the ability to go through hundreds of resumes in seconds. That makes it much simpler. The hiring leader can understand why those candidates are good fits and very easily give a thumbs up thumbs down to the candidates. That moves the whole process forward very quickly from the sourcing to the screening, getting to your candidate slate. Then finally, in the third step of the process, with interviewing, you’re able to set up automated interview guides, right? Your interviewers are able to follow the guides really simply give the feedback very easily and quickly in an automated way.

Andrea Shiah (11m 45s):
That saves the recruiter so much time. A lot of their time is spent going back and forth with interviewers scheduling the meetings and following up to capture the feedback. Now that becomes automated and that’s so much more efficient for the recruiter’s time and also the speed of the process.

Matt Alder (12m 5s):
Diving a bit deeper into intelligence, articularly AI-Driven intelligence in talent acquisition. Obviously, finding enough candidates is very hard. I would imagine even when people are able to apply technology to their ATS and their candidate list to surface great candidates, they’re still at a shortage. Does this type of talent intelligence make it easier for people to think more about adjacent skills when it comes to hiring? They can’t find someone who has the exact match for the skills that they’re looking for because that person might not exist. Can AI help really uncover hidden candidates and then help the recruiter to sell those candidates to the hiring manager?

Andrea Shiah (12m 53s):
Yes, absolutely. You’re calling out something that I call the secret sauce of Eightfold’s AI, and that is adjacencies, right? I talked about earlier, with all the data we have on skills, we can see people’s movement, and how they acquire skills. As such, we can identify something we call adjacencies. Adjacencies are essentially a way to predict an individual’s ability to learn a new skill with 95% accuracy because, historically, we’ve seen this happen successfully across millions and millions of datasets. Why this matters now, and this is what we’re finding across many of our customers, this is a really important tool for them that they’re leveraging more and more.

Andrea Shiah (13m 46s):
That’s because most companies are competing for the same talent and the same skills. A lot of this is driven by digital skills, right? There’s a lot of competition for software engineers. There’s a lot of competition for data scientists, and user experience. A lot of this is driven by companies really trying to digitize their workforce and prepare their workforce for the future. As a result, every company is fighting for the same skills. All of a sudden, adjacencies become very powerful. We’ve seen it in our analytics. If you consider adjacent skills, again, it’s looking at individuals who are very highly able to learn a new skill with great success and ease.

Andrea Shiah (14m 29s):
All of a sudden, you’re able to broaden your pool of candidates. We’ve seen numbers from double and up to five times, depending on the skills that you’re looking for. What we’re finding is a lot of our customers are relying on that now to really try to broaden their pool of candidates because it’s so competitive right now. I think that’s a really, really powerful tool to leverage.

Matt Alder (14m 56s):
One of the other things that I wanted to talk about was diversity. Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been a massive talking point for a number of years, but obviously, particularly in the last couple of years. What I see from companies though, it’s always the number one talking point, but it’s not often the number one doing point. A lot of the issues that we have are still not being solved. Companies still seem to be struggling with this. What are you seeing in the market? Is this something that technology can help with?

Andrea Shiah (15m 34s):
Yes, it definitely is. I spent a lot of time thinking about this, right? This was an important priority for American Express. It’s an important priority right now for many companies. When you have such a manual process that many TA functions are, it’s really hard to do. I’ll talk about why Eightfold enables so much. As a starting point, what Eightfold does is really reinforce skills-based decision-making. Fundamentally, that’s a really important part of being inclusive, and really considering, and making sure bias isn’t part of your decision-making.

Andrea Shiah (16m 17s):
If you’re making decisions and you’re looking specifically at skills, that’s step one. That’s just foundational. Then I’ll tell you kind of where I found some of the biggest difference-makers leveraging Eightfold. Number one, first part of the process, you’re able to pipeline talent and diverse talent to make sure you have candidate pools that are diverse. What that means is your sourcers are able to go out and really look into different channels and different organizations to ensure that you’re being inclusive and bringing diverse talent into your pool of potential candidates because Eightfold allows you to source and search the database.

Andrea Shiah (16m 59s):
You can build pools of talent proactively and that includes diverse pools so that you can tap into that as you’re filling roles. One of the most powerful tools that I found was your ability to look at the job requirements. One of the biggest barriers that I found to having inclusivity in your recruiting process is when a hiring leader identifies an exorbitant amount of skills that they must have for their role. This is pretty commonplace. I think many hiring leaders think the more specific and the more skills that they list that they need for their role, the better talent they’re going to get.

Andrea Shiah (17m 43s):
Oftentimes you’ll see, “Okay, I need a master’s degree. I need 10 years of experience. I want them to work for these companies. I want them to have gone to these schools.” Unfortunately, they’re actually doing the opposite. They’re being less inclusive as they’re considering their candidates. They’re really cutting out a lot of really potentially very strong candidates by narrowing it so much. One of the things that Eightfold allows you to do is it allows the recruiters to sit with the hiring leader, to talk about what kind of critical skills and experience they’re looking for. You can see what that does to your candidate pool real-time. If diversity is important, trying to be inclusive is important, you can see how, as you raise the requirements for your job, your diversity declines, and that’s natural because you’re being less inclusive as you’re defining all your requirements.

Andrea Shiah (18m 35s):
I think everyone would understand that if you’re over-indexing on too many requirements, you’re limiting your pool so much. You’re not actually going to get some of the really strong candidates you could otherwise consider. I think that’s a really powerful tool that Eightfold provides. Of course, along the way, just the ability to screen and match based on skills, building to build pools of talent that are inclusive, and then ultimately going through the interview process. If we allow the automation of interview guides and the ability for hiring leaders to use that interview guide with all the candidates that they’re interviewing, and then we capture the feedback centrally so the hiring leader can review all that feedback on the candidate in a way that allows them almost to calibrate them based on that feedback.

Andrea Shiah (19m 30s):
That’s another area of just the ability to remove any bias by making sure you’re taking a look at the feedback consistently across all the candidates. Those are a few ways in the end-to-end process Eightfold with its skills intelligence and automation really help ensure an inclusive process. I think that’s really powerful. We’ve also seen incredible results from our customers in terms of their ability to grow their candidate base to be more diverse, and even their hiring results. It’s really exciting to see that because I think we just try to really automate inclusivity in the process and that’s the best way to get the best candidates and diversity as a result of your recruiting process.

Matt Alder (20m 16s):
Final question, I’m sure people who are listening would like to learn more and I know that you’ve got an event coming up, haven’t you? Can you tell us about that?

Andrea Shiah (20m 25s):
Yes, it’s really exciting. If you want to think about great use of your time, because I think this is a really important time to understand what’s happening in the Talent acquisition marketplace, whether it’s the trends and how do you remain competitive. If you want to have a resource to get the most out of your time, I think Eightfold puts together one of the best events to really inform talent acquisition leaders. It’s called Cultivate and it’s happening on May the 10th and 11th. You can see the agenda. You can go to the Eightfold site and find out more about Cultivate, but we have leaders.

Andrea Shiah (21m 8s):
It’s not just Eightfold talking. We have some of the top talent leaders and experts across industries talking about kind of what they’re seeing and what they know. It’s not just about Eightfold. It’s about many experiences that leaders are having and insights that they’re gaining for talent and talent acquisition. As an example, Josh Berson will be one of our keynote speakers. I know a lot of CHROs and talent leaders rely on Josh to really understand the trends because he really spends a lot of time trying to understand what’s happening and what’s effective. We have CHROs from a lot of our customers that are also joining and speaking and talent leaders talking about their experiences.

Andrea Shiah (21m 56s):
Really a great forum to learn a lot about what’s happening from some of the major leaders across different industries so really recommend if people have time and they’re looking to educate themselves, that’s a great forum to do so.

Matt Alder (22m 14s):
Fantastic. I’ll put a link for people to register in the show notes. Andrea, thank you very much for talking to me.

Andrea Shiah (22m 24s):
Yes, it’s been my pleasure. It’s just such an exciting time in talent acquisition and I’m excited for talent acquisition leaders. While it’s really busy, I think it’s a great time for them to play a role in helping their organizations transform. I really think it’s an exciting time, and thank you for having me here, and the opportunity to share many of the things that I’m seeing out there. Thank you, Matt.

Matt Alder (22m 51s):
My thanks to Andrea. You can subscribe to this podcast in Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or via your podcasting app of choice. Please also follow the show on Instagram. You can find us by searching for Recruiting Future. You can search all the past episodes at recruitingfuture.com. On that site, you can also subscribe to the mailing list to get the inside track about everything that’s coming up on the show. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll be back next time and I hope you’ll join me.

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