Humanism Versus AI



 AI Filter Challenges in Recruiting


October 2018

Vanessa Richardson

Humanism or the humanistic approach are terms in psychology relating to an approach which studies the whole person, and the uniqueness of each individual holistically.  At a minimum it takes the sum of a person’s experiences, talents, skills, education and yes and even deficits into account when determining how one might perform and even thrive in certain environments.  Its elements are limitless and in order for the theory to be adequately applied must include; yes – human contact in the form of a meeting or at a minimum a conversation yet we often find ourselves turning to technology for the efficiency, convenience, and rapid productivity. 

Artificial intelligence, if headlines are anything to go by, promise to yield a brilliant new age of possibility.  It is the branch of computer science that aims to create intelligence that will one-day mimic the cognitive functions associated with the human mind such as learning, reasoning, perception, and planning just to name a few – with the goal being to one-day code itself out of a coder.  However, even we as humans don’t know what we don’t know; and will we ever?

So what does this mean for the future of Talent Acquisition? Will candidates be funneled out of talking to an actual person due to bias within the algorithm?  The addition of AI into the recruiting industry is exciting for both job seekers and employers however, the continued and most concerning issue is algorithmic discrimination, which can unintentionally be propagated through AI.  Recently Amazon discovered that using AI to filter through resumes, was biased towards their female candidates simply due to the ratio of male to female applicants.

[see article below]

Algorithmic bias could show in very subtle ways. Jeanine Dames, head of the Yale University Office of Career Strategy, specifically notes “the art history major interested in starting a career in marketing, who enters their qualifications into a matching technology or the woman who has a gap in her employment history due to maternity leave” get filtered out.  Dames goes on to speak about the great harm that could come from this, remarking that employers create the potential to miss out on great talent and opportunity due to resumes never making it to a recruiter’s desk. 

Jeremy Hindle, co-founder of the recruitment app Headstart considers those algorithms which allow candidates to include a detailed list of their personality traits and long-range goals will almost always lead more viable candidate pools than those who simply pull from demographics; allowing for initial conversations based on experience, skills, and personal attributes.

Now more than ever humans strive for the best of both worlds, human connection and technological advances.  Apps can make our dinner reservations but we still want company, conversation and connection.  There is a necessary balance to find between these two worlds and in the end there is no formula for everything.  AI is evolving and changing at a rate we have never seen before and it is a technology that periodically needs to be vetted for bias.  It is not something to be set up and forgotten about. A human element must always exist because we are in fact dealing with people.  People are unpredictable and also ever evolving both on an individual level and as a human race.  Finding this delicate equilibrium of human interaction vs. technology and innovation is a task that finds its way into our everyday existence but one that we owe to ourselves. 



Integrated People Solutions is an executive placement firm in Denver, Colorado, and is part of the Kennedy Executive Network


About Kennedy Executive

Kennedy Executive Search & Consulting is a global partner network of retained search boutiques in Europe, Africa, North America and Asia Pacific with offices in Amsterdam, Budapest, Copenhagen, Denver, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, London, Milan, Monaco, Oslo, Paris, Prague, Sydney and Vienna. The network covers 360 degrees of talent management: executive search finds and assesses the right talent in the market, consulting develops people and organizations. With the addition of Evolve South Africa, Kennedy is now active on 4 continents and in 14 countries and offers a global reach. Between the 75+ consultants and researchers, 30 languages are spoken. As a network Kennedy will run 365 strategic recruitments all over the world this year. Kennedy Executive Search & Consulting helps organizations to achieve their goals and people to enhance their careers every day.




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