Could an Algorithm Recruit Your Next Programmer?

It seems preposterous that an algorithm might be able to do what human beings are having so much trouble doing these days–recruiting good computer programmers. The recruiting process normally involves so much interpersonal interaction centered around candidates: sourcing, filtering, screening, phone interviews, in-person interviews, equal candidate comparison or scoring, and the eventual offer. Of course, the high demand for these knowledge workers has made active candidates all the more difficult to find.

But according to the New York Times, an innovative company named Gild is now using Big Data (the use of computers to collect and assess all sorts of information) to automate the discovery of talented programmers who may have slipped through the cracks. Gild’s theory is that the usual methods for identifying a programmer may leave some valuable players on the table, partly because recruiters/hiring managers can be shortsighted and approach the candidate search with biases and preconceived notions. In contrast, Gild has built a search machine that tries to eliminate human bias. The algorithm focuses not on traditional talent markers but on how the person performs and what he or she can actually do.

In all, Gild’s algorithm crunches thousands of bits of information in calculating around 300 larger variables about an individual: the sites where a person hangs out; the types of language, positive or negative, that he or she uses to describe technology of various kinds; self-reported skills on LinkedIn; the projects a person has worked on, and for how long; and, yes, where he or she went to school, in what major, and how that school was ranked that year by U.S. News & World Report.

Using this algorithm, Gild has identified some outstanding talent that normal recruiting methods would’ve missed. For instance, it discovered and hired Jade Dominguez, a rebellious 26-year-old who didn’t graduate from college but who has amazing programming skills.

So might the algorithm recruiting method actually replace traditional recruiting? The vote is still out! While no one doubts Jade’s abilities, there’s debate whether he and other out-of-the-box candidates can actually succeed in the structured business environments that will be required of them. As we’ve learned, character, competence, and culture fit must all play into a successful hire–and a computer can’t listen to its gut instincts or assess a candidate’s posture during an interview!

For the full story on what Gild is doing, read Matt Richtel’s article here.

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By Marcianne Kuethen

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