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Software Screening Raises Bar for Hiring

Wall Street Journal (05/31/12) David Wessel

Peter Cappelli, a professor of management and human resources at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, dismisses the widely held belief that finding workers with the right skills is a real challenge for employers these days. “The real culprits are the employers themselves,” he asserts. “It is part of a long-term trend, and the recession caused employers to be able to be pickier, to get even more specific in the skills they think they can find outside the company and to cut back on training.”

Cappelli says that in many companies, software has replaced recruiters, so “applicants rarely talk to anyone, even by email, during the hiring process.” At a time of widespread unemployment, the volume of applications is swamping human resource departments, many of which have been downsized to cut costs. That has led employers to further automate hiring—and to become very specific about experience and skills they seek. Screening software weeds out anyone whose application lacks particular key words. Neal Grunstra, president of the staffing firm Mindbank Consulting Group, calls this trend “looking for a unicorn.”