Study: Automated hiring increases applications

Members of the Merit Systems Protection Board recently issued a report, "Identifying Talent Through Technology: Automated Hiring Systems in Federal Agencies," that aims to decrease the cost and work of paper-based hiring.

Automated hiring systems can distribute job information electronically, receive online applications, assess applicants, notify applicants of the outcome of the hiring process and eliminate much human labor. Automation is more popular in large agencies, such as NASA and the Defense Department. Most agencies choose from the following automated hiring systems: Avue, Commerce Opportunities On-Line, QuickHire, Resumix and USA Staffing.

Agency officials' primary reason for automating the hiring process was faster hires. They also expected automated systems to be more consistent and less prone to bias than human examiners.

However, the Merit study found that, in some ways, automated systems can create more work because user-friendly job sites can increase the number of applications.

The study's authors found that applicant ratings generated by automated systems are better at screening applicants than selecting a small few.

According to the study, federal departments and agencies should:

Treat hiring as a critical process, not an administrative function.

Manage an automated hiring system as a change for the whole organization, not simply as an information technology or a human resources office initiative.

Invest enough resources for automated hiring.

Use automated hiring systems to support recruitment programs, not to replace them.

Emphasize selection quality over less-important outcomes, such as cost and efficiency.

Evaluate the soundness and usefulness of existing assessment tools before converting them for use by their automated hiring systems.

Invest in selection criteria, ways for assessing applicants against those criteria and ways to turn those assessments into ratings and referrals.

Communicate roles and expectations to line managers, human resources professionals and applicants.

Ensure the competence of human resources professionals.

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