20 April 2018

Job seekers in Singapore look to AI to alleviate job-hunting challenges

Indeed, the job site, has found that the top three challenges Singaporean job-seekers face are cumbersome recruitment processes, lack of personalisation and unfair hiring practices, based on a survey involving 2,000 Singaporeans.

The same research also revealed that over 50% of Singaporeans are keen to see artificial intelligence (AI)-driven technologies make their job searching more efficient and effective, which could combat the problems they commonly face. This could potentially lower the barriers to better employment for Singaporean workers, especially those underemployed or discouraged.

The research, conducted in December 2017, revealed the sentiments of Singaporean job seekers when searching for a new role:

- Time-consuming processes

- Lack of relevance

More than half of job applicants surveyed (55%) say that job search processes are not personalised or tailored to their skills and past experience

- Unfair hiring practices

Almost half (46%) of job seekers felt they have experienced bias and discrimination when applying for a new job

Half of the respondents aged 45 and above have felt age discrimination when applying for a new job

While the Singapore labour market showed signs of improvement in the last year, many job seekers are still frustrated by what they perceive as a lack of transparency in the hiring process. The combined forces of digitalisation and globalisation have given employers more tools and channels to refine their search for the best candidates. However, these improvements have not seemed to trickle down in enhancing job seekers’ experiences when searching for ideal roles, Indeed said. These findings echo reports by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower, which described an ongoing job-skills mismatch due to the rapid pace of digital transformation across all industries.

The same research also revealed that more than half of Singaporean job seekers are keen to see AI-driven technologies making their job searches more efficient and effective. Job seekers believe the use of AI can minimise hiring biases and instead, focus recruitment efforts on matching candidates to the skills and experience needed for a role.

For example, hirers can make a skills-led decision on job candidates by leveraging AI’s natural language processing capabilities to comb through text-heavy resumes and pinpoint critical information. The same technology can be used by job seekers on platforms like Indeed.com, where the use of AI and related algorithms can filter jobs that best match a candidate’s resume. This saves them time, instead of having to scour hundreds of job ads to identify those of the right fit.

Indeed’s Senior Director, Asia Pacific, Andrew McGlinchey said that understanding the candidate is key to making hiring processes more effective*. McGlinchey said, “As employers seek out the best talent to fill roles, HR practitioners have relied on a mix of tools and approaches for greater efficiency. AI has a special part to play in this process, by helping hirers filter through hundreds of resumes, minimising time spent on cumbersome recruitment processes and selecting candidates in a more objective manner.

"However, while AI is a great first-level qualifier, it does not take away the importance of human interactions in the overall hiring process. The traditional interview is still an important channel for recruiters to shape the candidate experience in order to instill trust and inspire loyalty right at the outset. After all, hiring is a two-way process that requires both job seekers and hirers to determine the right fit for both parties.”

*Editor's note: AI can potentially bring a lot of good to recruitment but is only as good as the rules it is given to start with, and the datasets it is trained on. AI tools can be ineffective because of biased coding or the use of incomplete datasets. It remains to be seen exactly how objective they can be.