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How to know if hiring algorithms are blacklisting your CV

·3-min read
Female job seeker using ipad
Many job seekers have no idea why their CVs keep getting ‘binned’ by recruitment software. (Source: Getty)

Some job seekers have become stuck on a “hamster wheel” of automated job applications where they have no way of knowing why their CVs keep getting rejected.

Jeremy Poxon of the Australian Unemployed Workers' Union said big recruitment companies had been using AI-powered tools to sift through resumes and assess candidates for years.

According to Poxon, these tools are causing job seekers “a lot of stress and anxiety”.

If rejected by one of these systems, job seekers often receive an automated message and no opportunities for feedback.

“It doesn't tell you what you're doing right or what you're doing wrong,” Poxon said.

The lack of transparency around what these tools were looking for was part of the problem, Poxon explained.

He said things like gaps between roles could be triggering an automatic rejection, as well as missing keywords.

If a system doesn’t like what it sees, applications are automatically discarded without a real person ever seeing them.

These systems also ask for a lot of private information, including sensitive documents such as birth certificates.

Not all companies provided a privacy policy, and if they did, Poxon said it would often be pages and pages of fine print to read and interpret.

“Which of course adds extra stress and time to the process,” he said.

Job seekers are also often subjected to several different recruitment platforms, which means setting up a new account, uploading personal information and sitting through psychological testing over and over again.

“This can be hours of your life without talking to a single human being,” Poxon said.

He said these tools tended to entrench the disadvantage experienced by job seekers who were already struggling to secure employment.

“These are people who are struggling to afford internet at home. These are people who might have low digital-literacy skills, such as people from non-English speaking backgrounds,” he said.

“We think these tools are making it easier to just completely bin those resumes.”

He suspected only the most conventionally “job-ready” applicants were being sent straight to recruiters for the next round.

Computers can discriminate too

One of the reasons recruiters started using this kind of software was because it was thought to eliminate human bias in traditional hiring practices.

The algorithms were thought to be less susceptible to discriminatory screening according to race, gender, sexuality or class.

“But we're seeing the exact opposite,” Poxon said.

“AI doesn't exist in a vacuum. It’s run by companies and it’s just making it easier for them to make the hard decisions.”

He said there had been some data showing that educated white men were selected by AI-enabled recruitment software more than any other category of job seeker.

Poxon said the argument that these technologies were “neutral” had become “a very convenient line” for recruiters to continue sexist, classist and racist hiring practices.

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