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COVID-19 brought the world to a halt this past March, driving unemployment to new heights. At the peak of the pandemic, nearly 50 million people filed for first-time unemployment benefits in the US alone. Then, in the midst of this already challenging time, protests calling out systemic racism and demanding justice erupted around the country.

Taken together, the coronavirus pandemic and the protest wave have been a transformative force for recruiting and hiring. On one hand, COVID-19 and climbing unemployment rates are making remote-first processes and carefully structured volume hiring absolute necessities. On the other, the spotlight on social justice and inclusion means hiring processes must be as fair and free of bias as possible. These requirements are not easy to satisfy simultaneously, but with the right mindset, recruiters can turn today’s crisis into a competitive advantage unlike any they’ve had before. You just have to embrace the changes and move to align your processes, people, and technology accordingly.

What Makes a Fair Digital Hiring Process?

In a nutshell, digital transformation is the key to creating the right hiring process for today’s talent market, but the concept itself can be hard to grasp in the abstract. The best approach is to define a clear methodology that can make a fair digital hiring process into a reality.

Fairness comes from an unbiased selection process where equal time and attention are given to every candidate. That may seem impossible with so many candidates now on the market, but all you need is the infrastructure to support a data-driven, digital-first hiring process. With this outcome in mind, focus on the following areas of your recruiting process:

1. Matching Technology

“Matching technology” refers to scientifically validated tools that collect data about applicants and use it to determine how likely they are to succeed on the job. Humans often carry unconscious biases, which can influence their hiring decisions, but the right matching technology can help recruiters make more informed hiring decisions based on candidates’ relevant skills. In addition to making candidate selection fairer, matching technology can also speed up the hiring process by removing the bottlenecks that can arise when recruiters have to manually review resumes and conduct front-line phone screens.

2. Automation

With the right matching technology in place, your team can also automate significant portions of their recruitment workflows based on candidates’ matching scores. Recruiters have to be smart with their time, especially in a crowded talent market, and organizations can’t afford to waste expensive work hours on repetitive, low-value tasks. Automating laborious activities like resume screening, scheduling interviews, or following up speeds workflows, gives recruiters time to focus on high-impact activities, and improves overall candidate experience.

3. Business Intelligence

To keep track of everything that is happening in your scientifically validated and automated recruitment process, you need to arm yourself and your team with the right data. Agility is more important than ever today, and teams will need data that is accurate, easy to understand, and up to date.

By digitizing your application process and ensuring all the relevant hiring and talent management systems are integrated, your team can collect and analyze data across every step of the recruiting process. This makes it much easier to identify and address bottlenecks, quantify progress toward key performance indicators, and make necessary adjustments in a timely manner. Tracking data at each step of the process also allows you to continuously monitor your process for fairness.

4. Candidate Experience

Getting the right tech in place is vital to facilitating a fair and digital hiring process, but remember: All of these steps should be taken in service of improving the candidate experience.

You want to treat your applicants the way you’d treat your most valued customers, but delivering an engaging candidate experience is more difficult when applicant volumes are as high as they are today. Implementing a digital process based on matching technology, automation, and business intelligence is about more than just meeting your business’s goals: It’s about delivering a standardized, seamless, positive experience that gets top talented excited about your company.

In the new world of recruiting, the only constant is change — which is happening faster than ever. In times of increasing volatility such as these, it’s key that you grab the reins and assert control over your recruitment process. Take the first steps toward digital transformation today. In doing so, you empower your recruitment team to focus on high-value work, make data-driven decisions, and successfully navigate the new challenges that are sure to come your way.

Barend Raaff is cofounder and CEO of Harver.

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