October 23, 2019

What we think about LinkedIn’s talent search tool

How many times have you heard “Rachel’s great, if only we could have another Rachel…” Well LinkedIn have obviously heard that a lot and have decided to do something about it. LinkedIn’s next venture is to ‘clone workers’. They have created a tool that allows you to select the LinkedIn profile of a high-performing existing staff member, and it will generate a list of suggestions of people with similar credentials.

This is a great way of narrowing down the pool of candidates, however it’s generally limited to education, experience and hard skills and we foresee a danger. Reinforcing existing biases is very easy if you focus on the visible “hard” skills rather than the less visible but equally critical “soft skills”.

Having employees with great skills is something we all aspire to and is a key element of success, but if highly skilled employees don’t get along with the team or align with the company values they might not be around for long. Businesses need to give much more weight to factors like social cohesion, personality alignment and interpersonal value tolerances if they want to hire successfully. In an era of increasing employee turnover, and where attrition is estimated by PWC to cost between 12% and 40% of a company’s pre-tax income, finding an efficient way of assessing how well employees will work together is more important than ever. But is it possible to create a LinkedIn-style ‘matching’ system for personality and social values?

If we could apply a second level to LinkedIn’s ‘clone’ feature that suggests who would fit the team culture perfectly I’m sure that the chances of success would be much higher and we’d all spend a lot less time “kissing frogs” before we find the prince/princess.

There are a raft of new companies offering personality testing as a driver for a more algorithmic approach to hiring, but personality doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story on how well someone will fit within a team. Instead, our technology goes beyond behaviour to focus on deeper values and tolerance to others’ values to predict how individuals will interact with team members. One of the great benefits of using an algorithm to support these otherwise subjective people decisions is that they are open to review and change: if an error has been made in the process, it’s possible to go ‘under the hood’ of the algorithm and figure out what went wrong.

Although LinkedIn’s tool is clearly a boon to HR managers who want to find employees with similar skills, such a system needs to be used alongside a rigorous assessment of soft skills to ensure that these so-called ‘career doppelgangers’ will also fit well within their teams. As John Donne said “no man is an island”, and that’s especially true in the office today.

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