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May 15, 2024

The Battle for AI Talent: Early Questions


Heads of Talent Acquisition are starting to get their hands around proactive strategies for implementing generative AI into their workstreams and navigating its use by candidates. The newest question leaders are asking us, however, is how to source and recruit qualified AI talent.

To date, I have not talked to anyone who has a codified strategy for recruiting AI talent. But, here are two big questions we’re hearing dictate early strategy.

What specific skills indicate AI proficiency? 

Right now, there is a rush to scoop up “AI talent,” but this ignores the question of which specific skills the company actually needs. Put differently – not all AI skills are relevant for every AI project. And, companies will necessarily need individuals with skills outside of AI (e.g., research, project management, ethics, business strategy) to complete AI-related work. So to reduce the conversation to one of ‘Where is the AI talent?’ is to ignore a more fundamental truth – there is no codified definition or ontological classification of AI skills. But, a larger and more important question is what skills within AI (e.g., natural language processing, machine learning, robotics) and outside AI are relevant to us?

Should companies build, buy, or borrow AI talent?

AI talent is scarce. Heads of TA are exploring training their employees in AI, hiring new talent, or using temporary workers to fill gaps. Our research suggests they’re mostly trying to hire their way out of skills shortages, but the borrow question is interesting. Accenture recently took an interesting approach by setting up a Generative AI Academy in India to train 20,000 employees on 12 new roles that did not previously exist but that they see as core to their workforce strategy.

 

The answers to these questions will emerge with time. For now, what we do know is that AI roles are being filled approximately 11 days faster than they were a year ago. This may reflect growing urgency on the part of the organizations to win talent with AI skills.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to monitor how employers and the talent marketplace respond to this trend and share our findings.

 

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May 10, 2024

Avoid Age Discrimination in Early Career Programs


At our most recent Annual Members Meeting, United States EEOC Commissioner, Keith Sonderling, joined Veris Insights Co-Founder & CEO, Carter Bradley, for a fireside chat to speak about some of the trends he’s seeing within the recruiting ecosystem. This is a summary of their conversation on early career programs and guidance for recruiting teams on preventing age discrimination. 


Early Career Initiatives: The Costly Mistake of Unintentional Age Discrimination

A few years ago, an unsettling scenario unfolded when an organization found itself in a $2M+ settlement stemming from an EEOC age discrimination lawsuit. The culprit? Their “Early Career” hiring initiative. This incident sent shock waves through the University Recruiting industry, sparking concerns to this day about the potential ramifications of their own early career programs. 

Commissioner Sonderling acknowledged the complexities inherent to early career recruiting, particularly age discrimination. One glaring issue is the language used in job descriptions, often explicitly seeking “recent college graduates,” which may imply a preference for candidates in their early twenties.  

Leading with Inclusivity

Amidst these concerns, advocacy groups like AARP are championing the cause of older workers, decrying the exclusionary practices perpetuated by “early career” programs. However, the solution isn’t to abandon campus recruitment altogether. Instead, Commissioner Sonderling urges also leveraging alternative avenues – such as online job boards – that allow qualified candidates of all ages to apply, ensuring equal opportunity. 

Veris Insights’ research found more than half of companies have changed their “University Recruiting” team name or have actively considered it. As recruiting for entry-level positions expands beyond college campuses, some companies find a team name like “early career” or “emerging talent” to be more inclusive of all candidates in the early stages of their career, despite their age or degree status.

Recruiting & Fostering Early Talent Moving Forward

Navigating early career recruiting programs while safeguarding against age discrimination requires a delicate balance of legal compliance and inclusive practices. By heeding the insights shared by Commissioner Sonderling and embracing a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, recruiting leaders can maintain their programs and forge a path towards a more equitable future.

 

Stay in-the-know on today's employment discrimination claims

Check out more insights from EEOC Commissioner Keith Sonderling
April 16, 2024

DEI Programs in a Post-Affirmative Action Era


At our most recent Annual Members Meeting, United States EEOC Commissioner, Keith Sonderling, joined Veris Insights Co-Founder & CEO, Carter Bradley, for a fireside chat to speak about some of the trends he’s seeing within the recruiting ecosystem. This is a summary of their conversation on how DEI programs are evolving after the SCOTUS decision on affirmative action. 


 

In the ever-evolving landscape of DEI initiatives over the last few decades, companies have recognized the pivotal role early talent recruiting plays in fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces. Amidst discussions surrounding affirmative action and legal implications, many recruiting leaders question “What’s next?” about the future of their DEI and University Recruiting programs.

Understanding the Post-Affirmative Action Era

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action, questions loom large on how employers who remain committed to DEI should proceed. Commissioner Sonderling asserted that despite legal complexities, forward-thinking organizations can continue to prioritize their DEI programs and initiatives. He underscored the intrinsic value in creating equitable workplaces, so long as efforts are compliant with the law.

Early Talent Recruiting: A Gateway to Diversity 

Many employers have embraced early talent programs as a strategic, innovative, and effective approach to cultivating diverse candidate pipelines. Commissioner Sonderling emphasized the significance of these programs in addressing underrepresentation within organizations. By adhering to compliance standards, companies can continue to effectively recruit from diverse backgrounds without compromising legal integrity.

Navigating Scrutiny: Commissioner Sonderling’s Advice 

In the face of increased scrutiny, Commissioner Sonderling advises companies not to panic and dismantle their DEI initiatives, but rather to refine their approach. By prioritizing intentionality and compliance, organizations can weather the complexities of DEI programs and early talent recruiting. Through thorough documentation and accountability measures, companies can uphold their commitment to diversity while mitigating legal risks.

Stay in-the-know on avoiding age discrimination in early career programs

Check out more insights from EEOC Commissioner Keith Sonderling
March 15, 2024

Generative AI in Recruiting: Key Insights from EEOC Commissioner Keith Sonderling


At our most recent Annual Members Meeting, United States EEOC Commissioner, Keith Sonderling, joined Veris Insights Co-Founder & CEO, Carter Bradley, for a fireside chat to speak about some of the trends he’s seeing within the recruiting ecosystem. This is a summary of their conversation on the use of AI in recruiting.


 

In the realm of Human Resources, the advent of Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) sparks both excitement and apprehension, especially in Talent Acquisition. While interest in the power of generative AI in recruiting grows, it’s crucial to understand its implications. 

Balancing AI’s Potential with Reality

The landscape of AI in Talent Acquisition is bustling with promises of revolutionizing recruitment processes. Already, AI technology has proven to be a game-changer, leading a myriad of vendors to promote their platforms as the cure-all for diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges. Each boasts of their platform’s abilities to deliver top-tier candidates with sophisticated algorithms. However, amidst the allure of innovation, Commissioner Sonderling encourages Talent Acquisition leaders to discern reality from the rhetoric. 

It’s not merely about integrating the technology, but rather defining its purpose and ensuring alignment and compliance with longstanding civil rights laws and regulations enforced by bodies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It’s ultimately the employers using AI, not their vendors, who are liable for any noncompliance, Commissioner Sonderling notes.

Mitigating AI Bias and Discrimination Risks

One of the foremost concerns surrounding generative AI in recruiting is the potential for perpetuating bias and discrimination. Despite its touted objectivity, AI technologies are not immune to inheriting (and even amplifying) the same human bias they’re designed to eliminate. From reinforcing status quo biases to facilitating discriminatory advertising, the ramifications can be profound and far-reaching. AI is only as effective and ethical as the data to which it is anchored. 

Commissioner Sonderling advises organizations to proactively mitigate the risks of bias and discrimination associated with AI implementation. This necessitates a deep understanding of the technology, rigorous vetting of vendors, and an establishment of robust governance frameworks to safeguard against unintended consequences.

Advancing Recruiting Practices with AI

While the integration of AI into recruiting processes presents challenges, it also offers unparalleled opportunities for innovation and efficiency. By approaching AI adoption with diligence and foresight, organizations can unlock its full potential as a strategic asset.

Stay in-the-know on DEI Programs in a Post-Affirmative Action Era

Check out more insights from EEOC Commissioner Keith Sonderling
March 14, 2024

Game-Changing AI Strategies from Heads of TA


I’ve spent much of the last year in deep conversation with Heads of TA about how they are (or aren’t) changing their programs in response to Generative AI. 

We recently wrote up six of the most interesting GenAI strategies being implemented by the country’s top TA leaders. Here are a few highlights.

GenAI Laboratories to Pilot Use Cases Pre-Legal Review

Especially in heavily regulated industries, TA leaders are faced with balancing the adoption of cutting-edge AI while navigating internal hesitations and legal compliance concerns. To tackle this issue, they are establishing external labs dedicated to AI experimentation. A controlled environment enables TA teams to pinpoint prime use cases prior to undergoing legal review, such as using AI to draft LinkedIn posts.

Implementing a Universal Recruiting AI Overlay

To optimize and unify recruiting workflows, TA leaders are investigating the use of Microsoft Copilot. Some are gearing up to launch Copilot as the central interface on top of all recruiting systems, intending to eventually act as an end-to-end solution. In this vision, Copilot could serve as a proactive guide in recruiters’ key workflows. This includes notifying them of new requisitions, highlighting well-aligned internal candidates, and more.

Leveraging ‘Matching’ Algorithms to Detect Duplicate Candidate Submissions and Mitigate Fraud

Duplicate candidate submissions pose substantial risks to recruiting integrity. To counter this, TA teams are developing custom ‘matching’ algorithms in their ATS to detect duplicate resumes. This implementation effectively uncovers both unintentional duplicates and fraudulent duplicate submissions, offering significant value for TA teams with large-scale recruiting processes.

We’re on a constant mission to surface and codify the most innovative uses of GenAI in recruiting processes. Please reach out if you have tried something new – or, if you’re interested in hearing more on what others have been trying.

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February 08, 2024

The Shifting Landscape of Today’s Employment Discrimination Claims


At our most recent Annual Members Meeting, United States EEOC Commissioner, Keith Sonderling, joined Veris Insights Co-Founder & CEO, Carter Bradley, for a fireside chat to speak about some of the trends he’s seeing within the recruiting ecosystem. This is a summary of their conversation on the mental health and remote work trends Talent Acquisition teams are facing in 2024.


 

In the complex realm of Talent Acquisition, it’s crucial to stay informed about the latest trends that are actively shaping the workforce landscape. One key aspect for TA professionals to keep in mind is the dynamic evolution of employment discrimination claims, shedding light on the nuance of workplace interactions.

The Unfolding Dynamics of Employment Discrimination Claims

Commissioner Sonderling shared with the group that, against the backdrop of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there were around 760,000 inquiries made, with approximately 73,000 charges leading to federal investigations. Although showing an increase from the year prior, these numbers remain significantly lower than in the post-recession era, suggesting potential positive shifts in workplace dynamics.

The Dominance of Retaliation Claims

Retaliation claims continue to dominate employment discrimination cases, often accompanying other allegations. A noteworthy trend emerges with disability discrimination as the primary underlying claim, showcasing a consistent upward trajectory, particularly in the context of Talent Acquisition.

 

Unpacking the Impact of COVID-19 on Workplace Dynamics

Religious Discrimination in the Wake of COVID-19

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a notable spike in religious discrimination claims, largely attributed to vaccine mandates. The unique challenges faced by TA and HR professionals in managing vaccination policies underscore the complexity of navigating religious exemptions.

Lingering Challenges Post-COVID-19

As vaccine mandates become a thing of the past, two intertwined issues persist—remote work/return-to-office mandates and the growing significance of mental health, especially among Gen Z talent. These challenges pose intricate questions for TA teams, requiring a delicate balance between organizational needs and individual well-being.

 

The Return-to-Office Dilemma and Escalating Mental Health Challenges

Legal Ramifications of Return-to-Office Mandates

Return-to-office mandates have become a central point of contention, leading to a surge in legal cases. TA and HR teams find themselves at the forefront of managing expectations and legal implications arising from these mandates.

Mental Health Claims on the Rise

Mental health claims, encompassing PTSD, depression, and anxiety, are on the rise. Employees are increasingly leveraging mental health considerations as grounds for accommodation requests, challenging TA and HR to navigate this sensitive terrain effectively.

 

Addressing Challenges in Talent Acquisition

Recruiting Amidst Remote Work Challenges

Recruiters face challenges in managing expectations, especially when promises of remote work are reconsidered. Striking a balance between business needs and employee expectations becomes crucial in maintaining a positive Talent Acquisition experience.

Accommodating Mental Health in Recruitment

The emergence of Gen Z talent, more open about mental health discussions, introduces a new dimension to recruitment. Crafting job descriptions that accommodate mental health needs for both applicants and employees becomes imperative, aligning with evolving legal considerations.

 

Navigating 2024: Mental Health and Remote Work as Top Priorities

As we step into 2024, the intertwined challenges of mental health and remote work are set to dominate the Talent Acquisition landscape. HR professionals and recruiters will need to adapt their strategies to address these issues, fostering an inclusive and supportive work environment.

Commissioner Sonderling emphasized that staying attuned to these evolving trends will position Talent Acquisition teams to proactively navigate the dynamic landscape of recruiting and retention in the years to come.

Stay in-the-know on generative AI's impact on recruiting

Check out more insights from EEOC Commissioner Keith Sonderling
January 11, 2024

Navigating Talent Acquisition in 2024


To attract, engage, win, and retain top talent in 2024, it’s imperative that Talent Acquisition teams can anchor to solid, sustainable internal processes and resources. These are just some of the strategies Talent Acquisition leaders are prioritizing that offer long-term impact.

(1) Evolving Recruiters

We’re hearing from most Talent Acquisition teams that they’re focused on transitioning their recruiters into talent advisors in 2024. For recruiters to serve as highly consultative and advise, there will be a focus on upskilling in areas such as consulting skills, strategic use of data, DEI best practices, effective sourcing, and business strategy.

(2) Investing in Technology 

Adapting to new technologies is a cornerstone of 2024. Many Talent Acquisition leaders plan to audit and optimize their tech stack, including the replacing of current systems and introduction of new software. The focus should be on building smart tech stacks that balance new technologies and minimize redundancies, as well as ensuring their team is trained adequately on how to best utilize these resources.

(3) Fostering Internal Mobility

More than half of Talent Acquisition professionals expect their focus on internal mobility to increase this year. To retain talent, strengthen professional development, and improve employee engagement, Talent Acquisition teams must streamline the internal application process and integrate internal mobility with key strategic priorities.

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December 21, 2023

Recruiting in 2023 was challenging – in many ways unprecedented.


Talent and recruiting took center stage this year – and not always for good reason.

Headlines signaled a recession and mass layoffs, which left candidates panicked and companies scrambling to signal stability. Generative AI introduced the possibility of serious change to the fundamental ways recruiting operates. The fluctuation of requisitions – up dramatically then down precipitously – has left recruiting leaders re-negotiating the rooms they are in, their roles in the company. If that weren’t enough, the SCOTUS decision on Affirmative Action left many teams – especially those focused on recruiting early talent – wondering the best way to approach DEI moving forward. And, throughout it all, companies faced internal challenges related to renegesreturn-to-office trendsinternal mobility, retention, upskilling recruiters to be talent advisors, and more.

Our job is to serve recruiting leaders in all their hardest work. To that end, 2023 saw the mobilization of substantial resources. We deployed quarterly employer benchmarking, candidate pulses, strategic studies, macro tools, advisory services, and more to study and serve on the issues critical to our recruiting leaders: economic uncertainty, labor market competition, internal mobility, retention, GenAI in recruiting, and more.

The outputs from that work were substantial:

• 26,000+ Students and Candidates Surveyed 

• 850+ Employers Studied 

• 600+ Custom Inquiries Answered 

• 100+ Service Deliveries to Members 

We’re looking forward to 2024. But, before jumping forward, we thought it worth reflecting once again on just how privileged we feel to serve Talent Acquisition leaders in their hardest work.

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November 09, 2023

DEI Programs in a Post-Affirmative Action Era


I was at a breakfast with Heads of University Recruiting and Talent Acquisition a few weeks ago. One of the main topics discussed was the Affirmative Action decision. Or, more specifically, how recruiting leaders should be thinking about their DEI programs in light of the decision.

The largest consensus: The SCOTUS decision does not prevent recruiting leaders from operationalizing DEI strategies, working to diversify their workforces, and building more inclusive systems.

The more interesting question discussed was how should leaders change their programs (if at all) in light of the decision. Though not a comprehensive or definitive list, I thought I’d share the three actions largely agreed upon by present leaders.

(1) Reconsider Program Naming

The most structural intervention considered by many was to reconsider including identity markers in the official name of any program they run. That does not preclude program tailoring. But, it builds additional openness into the categorical framing.

(2) “Not Limited To”

Second, explicit inclusion of language to make clear the program may be tailored to a specific group, but is not limited to that group, can hedge risk.

(3) Legal Consultation

Finally, a clear and obvious step, leaders are universally consulting their legal teams on program naming, format, advertising…etc.

 

It is worth noting that no one present had plans to draw back on their DEI efforts. Rather, they were focused on thoughtful reconsideration of certain program nuances in light of the recent decision.

Optimize your University Recruiting workforce planning.

Guide to University Recruiting Workforce Planning
October 12, 2023

Workforce Planning ‘Tiger Teams’


Recently, Heads of Talent Acquisition have been telling me their organizations are launching internal tiger teams focused on overhauling their approaches to workforce planning – from early careers to executive hiring. And, in most cases, they are in charge of the group. 

These initiatives follow a typical “tiger team” formula: Bring together a cross-functional group of experts to solve a specific problem and disrupt a fundamental way the business operates.

Most of these teams, it seems, have been formed in response to the requisition turmoil of the last few years. There’s real hunger for a better way to predict and map business talent needs for years to come. 

I spent some time going through my notes about these teams to synthesize the main objectives they seem to be pursuing. I thought I’d share the three most common here.

Key Objectives of Workforce Planning Tiger Teams

(1) Years-Out Skills Mapping 

First among the objectives is working with business lines to get a clear sense of the skills the business will need in the years to come. Along with this goal comes the sub-goal of designing skills-based assessments to accurately vet for those abilities.

(2) Long-Term Process Ownership

Many Heads of TA running these teams have as a primary objective owning larger parts of the workforce planning process in the future. This is both so that they can have more advanced notice of trends in business need but also so they can pressure test the strategies put forward by business leaders – and how talent could (or could not) fit into them.

(3) Explore Alternative Sources

With additional clarity on the skills necessary for the future and a seat at the WFP table, Heads of TA seem to be interested in exploring alternative ways to fill the skills necessities of the business. Chief among those are internal development programs and increased reliance on early careers work.

 

If there is one trend connecting all leaders, however, it is their dissatisfaction with current WFP processes. Not a single leader I’ve spoken with believes theirs to be strong. Market-wide, there seems to be interest in change.

Optimize your University Recruiting workforce planning.

Guide to University Recruiting Workforce Planning