• Tom Furlong

    Your comments regarding semantic search vendors rings true- the vendors realize that many large recruiting departments want the latest technology available and are supplying a solution that meets this need- not the need to properly identify the best available talent in the marketplace. How many times are these systems purchased by HR/CIO executives in part to meet a preset deliverable to “upgrade” the candidate identification process?

    A recent conversation with the recruiting manager from a Fortune 500 company covered how their department was relying on their ATS program as a first step filter- the company would not consider any candidate that had been rejected by this system. He had complete faith in their preliminary selection process and rejected the notion that reliance on only one method of talent screening yielded an incomplete set of candidates. It seems that “good enough” is an acceptable solution for his needs; the pursuit of excellence (in any endeavor) requires using technology as a first step, not the only step, in the process.

  • http://www.booleanblackbelt.com Glen Cathey


    Regarding that F500 company – #1 the executives and hiring managers should be *horrified,* and #2 if the people interested in working for that company knew that is how they are being evaluated and rejected…talk about scary!!!

    I whole heartedly agree – technology is the first step, never the entire step in a process. Computers and applications move and sort information, but people (should!) do the analysis and decision making.

  • Dave

    Nice post Glen. Yes, it seems every time a new technology surfaces everybody thinks they will be out of a job. The Watson Jeopardy episode was indeed an important step for cognitive computing, but a long way from thinking and *reasoning* like a person. Sourcers should be more excited than ever with the explosion of the social web and the emergence of the interest graph. Never before in the history of recruiting has there been a more fertile digital land for collecting and understanding people’s interests and associating those interests with the needs of employers. As the web continues to become more structured and the social web continues to form a fabric for relationships and interests the opportunity to leverage this unprecedented connectedness will only get better and better. There has never been a better time to be in recruiting/sourcing. Exciting times!

  • Dave Copps

    One more thing…what a great time to be writing semantic software for this market. Get ready for some really cool stuff coming down the pipe from us and other vendors.

  • Tom Bolt

    “…unless all they’re doing is basic keyword and title searching.” Artificial intelligence will win only if humans surrender. The wake-up call for shallow sourcers is to master the ability to search like a computer but also bring something to the table that adds a value not available by anyone or anything else.

  • http://twitter.com/Wise_Man_Say Wise Man Say

    Glen, an excellent post, as always.

    The problem isn’t that you are wrong, it’s that other people will not see your argument. And that means – regrettably – that your conclusion that Semantic Search will not lead to job losses in the sourcing discipline – is incorrect. It will do just that and the fall out will be tremendous.

    Semantic Search is a very ‘sell-able’ idea. It will come in a box, demo amazingly and present the sort of ‘turnkey’ solution to sourcing that will quickly become must-have in the recruitment industry. It will be much easier to sell that concept, that it will be to refute it.

    Your only mistake is to assume that the recruitment leaders who will make the decision on semantic search solutions are as smart as you are, or will do the due diligence you did. They aren’t, and they won’t. Principally, they are salespeople, not analysts, and will see SS as a method of reducing costs, reducing risk (of star sourcers leaving their business) and improving productivity (i.e less time sourcing = more time selling). And will they go for it in their droves.

    Is it the end of Sourcing? Of course not. Sourcers will still be around, but in lesser numbers as less skilled ‘Consultants’ (read salespeople) find themselves being able to compete with skilled sourcers in finding candidates. They may still not do it as well. But they will almost certainly sell it better.

    I hope I am wrong. But, as you know, we’ve seen this before.

    Best wishes


  • Arron Daniels

    We can only see where this goes. With any new technology comes explosive innovation to tweak, change, push the limits of the product. Sourcers would be the “tip of the spear. However, I agree with @Wise_Man_Say when sourcing (as we know it now) will be in fewer numbers.

    As the article states, there is always that needed human interaction. I was speaking with a former co-worker about sourcing and he equated sourcers to record players. “Great for their time.” I whole heartedly disagree. Sourcing can evolve and change with the industry just as sourcing has evolved from file cabinets and phones to computers and mobile applications.

    Let’s also not forget that this technology costs an arm and a leg. Wel… for that mater a few arms and legs. Like @tombolt said. Don’t fear Watson for now and be prepared to change and evolve. That’s my two cents!


    Arron Daniels

  • http://www.booleanblackbelt.com Glen Cathey

    Honored to have you stop by and comment!

    I only wish I had the technical know-how because I’d be tinkering away at machine learning algorithms myself!!!

    I’d be happy to give you a private, 3rd party opinion on anything you’re working on, including signing an NDA…..

  • http://www.booleanblackbelt.com Glen Cathey

    Agreed Tom – the value humans add to the equation is the analysis of the results returned by AI matching, as well as the ability to specifically seek out that which semantic search solutions bury amidst results, or exclude altogether!

  • http://www.booleanblackbelt.com Glen Cathey

    I agree with you Hung.

    It may regrettably take too long for companies to realize after buying and implementing semantic search solutions that they do only sort and move information and do not provide any real value otherwise.

    Intelligent and insightful people are required to analyze the results returned by matching algorithms and make decisions.

    They are also required to realize that resumes and social media profiles and updates only offer a fractional picture of the people they represent, and to allow a matching algorithm to be a final/authoritative screen of potential applicants would be gross folly!

  • http://www.booleanblackbelt.com Glen Cathey

    Excellent points Arron.

    Ridiculously expensive data warehousing and business intelligence applications crunch and move massive amounts of data, yet they also require people to make sense of the information provided. Companies are not making critical business decisions based on reports generated by ERP/BI apps – they are making critical business decisions based on the analysis provided by people after they’ve made sense of the information provided by the applications.

    That’s why the applications are called DSS – decision SUPPORT systems.

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