Cloning your best talents thanks to predictive recruitment

For nearly a year, the themes of the “digital transformation of HR” and of “predictive recruitment” are everywhere: article, conferences, workshop…not a week goes by without hearing about the background behind these two trends.

For the promoters of predictive recruitment, it would permit the identification of persons (applicants or existing employees) to perform and thrive in open positions within the company, and with unprecedented accuracy.

To its detractors, it is rather akin to a practice of “cloning,” where we seek to copy the identical characteristic of some high-performance employees. The practice then leads to an unprecedented loss of diversity within the company.

What is it, exactly? Is predictive recruitment going to rush in – not really – the “Brave New World” imagined by Aldous Huxley over 80 years ago?

#1 – Cloning…it’s already happening!

If one looks to the past, it seems that the need for cloning did not wait for the advent of digital processing and predictive recruiting to invite it into companies. How many consulting firms select their candidates by typing only the 20 “best” schools? How many large groups swear by graduates of HEC, Polytechnique, and Mines (or for Americans: Harvard, Yale, and Princeton)? How many companies prefer candidates with three years of experience gained from a competitor?

Recently, while passing through the office of the director of a large recruiting group, I was informed of the desolation of having to recruit battalions of candidates from prestigious schools: “They’re all full of the same sad suit and tired air. They are 25 and are old before their time. Simply put, they have no spark in their eyes. But I can do nothing, they are consigned to ensuring their résumé is at the top of the pile.

The will to clone wasn’t born out of predictive recruitment. Since the dawn of time, companies have been found to rely on their recruits, mainly by developing an “inbred” approach, which permits them to live in a reassuring way “in itself” (internal recruiting). This results in the open spaces (or small closed offices) of these companies biting the dust today, their innovation capabilities being virtually nullified. For instance, when a company appoints those responsible for its digital transformation, they often choose men 10 years from retirement…find the error here.

#2 – It’s not easy to bring in new blood

The most frequently cited excuse by recruitment directors for justifying their practices is generally the following: “If I had the choice, I would push other candidates, but hey, it pleases the managers. It is they who are closed to other types of profiles.” Except to push its diversity, they aren’t recruiting blacks, Maghreb, women, young, old (oops, sorry, “seniors”) or this disabled. Moreover, because you never know if it might scare managers.

#3 – But, what’s the diversity?

The question seems asinine but it’s important nonetheless. Everyone agrees that diversity enriches a company. It allows a multitude of approaches, perspectives, and ways of seeing the world. When it is well managed, it boosts corporate innovation capabilities and even their ability to deliver results from an operational standpoint.

But is this a reason to give hire anyone who raises his hand in the boat? Of course not. We all know that it wouldn’t work. Intelligent diversity recruiting is selecting people from all backgrounds and of different profiles…but with the personal provisions that allow them to succeed!

Note that at this point, I have not spoken of knowledge or even skills…why? Everyone now knows (or should know) that at the rate we are going; at least 50% of the knowledge and skills learned today will be obsolete in less than 5 years. Therefore, it is no longer “what I know” that will allow me to succeed but “who I am” and my ability to learn and how I shall adapt to changes in my environment.

#4 – And predictive recruitment in all this?

Practicing predictive recruitment consistently means identifying upstream of the selection who makes performance best in a particular position. And there’s no simply asking for the list of Santa Claus from managers every time they want you to recruit for them. No conducting endless audits or Excel spreadsheet return for 6 months, it’s simply focusing on key success factors. Specifically, 2-5 weeks of work is generally more than sufficient.

In 95% of cases, these key factors for success relate neither to the school attended, or experience previously acquired, or to areas where people have changed but to a person’s: skills (that they are able to do and learn), their motivations (what they want or need to do) and personality (how they behave normally or under stress).

Knowing that these private arrangements are fairly evenly distributed within the various segments of populations (such as those mentioned above), we know that all segments have an almost equal chance of accessing jobs offered by a company! Welcome Diversity.

#5 – Recruiting on these personal dispositions isn’t discriminatory, is it?

Not in the least if you remember the following:

  • There are hundreds of variables to describe the personal disposition of individuals
  • Typically, only 15 to 20 of them are used to describe the desired profile when creating a predictive recruitment process
  • Possessing 60% of them is sufficient to qualify a candidate as potentially eligible for the recruitment process

What the predictive recruitment allows for is not to recruit only people who will stick perfectly to a mold: it is a tool to expand the field of possibilities (and therefore your sourcing as well) while avoiding the traditional criteria to enable those most likely to succeed in certain positions to access these positions…that’s it.

As a result, everyone wins. The company (more performance in the short term and the long term, around 10 to 25%), the candidate (more success and fulfillment in daily life), and the recruiter (decrease recruitment times – 30% on average, and turnover – up to 50%).

Allowing the measurement of impacts at 12, 24, and 36 months, predictive recruitment teaches us that diversity is not a case of good feelings, nor of smooth communication. Diversity is simply a condition among others? Which enables businesses to supercharge their operational performance by introducing more equity.


David Bernard

CEO @ Co-founder @AssessFirst

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