We must radically reimagine how we recruit to discover new talent pools

Our recent Culture Clash event was dominated by one question: how to attract top emerging talent. Harnessing technology will be key, says panellist Chris Butt, CEO & founder of Cognisess.

Lisa Haggar Im like Marmite

24 August 2022

Chris Butt, Cognesis HR Panel debate HR World Culture Clash HR Event, Bristol

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Chris Butt, CEO & founder of Cognisess

Can you imagine a world that has progressed beyond blunt measurements of academic performance to accurately assess each person’s true potential? Where ethnicity, gender or identity bias is a thing of the past?

It might sound like something from a sci-fi film, but it is, in fact, far more of a reality than you we are often led to believe.

The technology at our disposal today has the power to not only revolutionise how we recruit, but also discover new streams of untapped talent.

All we have to do is harness it effectively.

Why? Because the traditional ways of finding new talent are creaking at the seams. After all, there are only so many candidates with top degrees from Russell Group Universities.

And the more we discover about neurodiversity, the more we understand that some highly intelligent and talented individuals might slip through the education system which means there’s a whole pool of as yet untapped talent to be discovered.

Add all this together and it’s clear we must radically change how we recruit in order to truly assess each person’s human and hard skills – if not for now, then certainly for tomorrow. With the rise of AI will come an ever increasing need for what technology cannot do, the human and creative skills that we will need more than ever.

Ironically, technology can assess them for us.

Full disclosure: I’ve got a vested interest in this. The company I founded uses tech to measure what’s inside a person’s head. By doing so, we can break bias by evaluating each person’s human and hard skills regardless of their ethnicity or gender.

But this isn’t just a PR push for my business. It’s a call to arms. As an industry, we must be prepared to embrace the new in a way that hasn’t been done in decades.

We’ve spent years treading the same old paths. We need to find more forward-thinking solutions to enable us to effectively harness people at every stage of their career: from finding the best new recruits, to better deploying them mid-career, and retaining them at the other end to make best use of their accrued skills and knowledge.

Once again, technology can help us do that.

Cognisess started twenty years ago with one question: ‘Is there something other than academic grades we can use to determine an individual’s talent and potential?’

Knowing what academic qualifications someone has is one thing. But recruiting a nurse, for instance, based on academic grades alone doesn’t always ensure the best hire.

Academic grades don’t tell you their true potential in the most critical skills of all for nursing: the ability to communicate, empathize and resolve conflict as well as rapidly adapt to change and maintain the right attitude in a stressful environment.

“Traditional ways of finding new talent are creaking at the seams. After all, there are only so many candidates with top degrees from Russell Group Universities.”

Lisa Haggar Im like Marmite

Grades also tell us nothing about the type of work people will actually enjoy and value – and are more likely to stick at.

And what about the people who don’t necessarily get the grades because they are simply not very good at sitting formal exams for example? What if we were able to build the technology to allow us to do a far deeper dive into people’s minds, attributes, skills and values?

So we did. And today, by harnessing neuroscience, psychology, and technology, we can guide people through a series of short interactive games that illuminate the true building blocks of who they are – intellectually, cognitively and emotionally.

It means we can move past one-dimensional tools to piece together a truly 3D picture of the highly complex individual each one of us is.

Technology alone cannot create better hiring outcomes of course. A shift in the dynamics of recruitment is also key.

There are still too many lazy cut and paste job descriptions out there, outdated competency models and candidates very subjectively crafting their truth to fit them.

The recruitment process must become far more collaborative moving forward.

From the HR side, we must invest more time in building truly holistic job profiles and opening up the skills criteria. When it comes to candidates, they must be empowered with the tools to better understand their skills and find the job that best suits them.

Relationships with employers will start even before the interview stage by creating more parity between the two sides of the partnership. We’ll also minimise the risk of making recruitment mistakes and the costly process of rehiring.

Tech will never replace the very human processes of HR. People will always need to be involved in the process.

But it will allow you – at scale – to assess thousands of people applying for one or two roles. Given that, in this day and age, they’re all potential consumers of your product, it’s important to maintain a relationship with them by giving them all an equal opportunity to land the role.

Tech allows us to strip away any external factors that might create bias and also create a far more nuanced profile of each person’s human skills.

Until now we haven’t been very good at measuring these so-called ‘soft’ skills. But that’s a complete misnomer; we now have the tech to better assess them. In the future, as AI takes over many systematic processes, these ‘soft’ skills will be the most prized: empathy, creativity, relationship-building, problem-solving, communication.

Exploring our most human skills will revolutionise our understanding of neuro diverse brains. For every deficit there is a compensation after all, so rather than focus on the one or two things a candidate can’t do, we can focus on what they can.

There’s no silver bullet. Humans are complex and so is the world. HR is not just a science but an art too.

But more than four centuries since Leonardo da Vinci wrote a letter to a potential employer listing his many skills, most candidates are still essentially doing the same.

Isn’t it time to change things up?

Be a part of the conversation around emerging talent www.thehrworld.co.uk/culture-clash/



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