AI Can Make Your Job Ads Less Biased and More Successful

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May 24, 2019

Augmented writing refers to tools that help people write better. Spelling, grammar, and style checkers are familiar and useful augmented writing tools. What’s new is that AI is bringing augmented writing to a whole new level—in fact, in some cases, AI can write an article on its own.

Of particular interest to HR professionals is a tool called Textio which reviews the wording in a job posting and cold call emails and advises how to make them more effective. It also analyzes the wording for unconsciously biased wording that potentially could discourage diversity candidates.

Once upon a time, a tool like this would have been rules-based. In a rules-based system an expert comes up with some rules (e.g. “Don’t have long paragraphs”) and the system would check to see if the posting met those rules. Textio is much more interesting; it’s an AI- system that is based on data rather than on an expert’s opinion.

The data by which a job posting or email is judged is on the responses it gets — that tells the AI what to aim for. The text in the post or email is judged on many different data points (word choice, sentence length, etc.) — something AIs can do quite well due to the degree of understanding that now exists in standard natural language processing tools.  AI can look at tens or hundreds of thousands of postings  and see which ones tend to work. It can provide constructive advice based on what it has learned. It won’t always be right, but it’s still a powerful tool.

Right now, this kind of tool seems cool, as they get better, they will become indispensable.

What’s interesting

  • When spell checkers were new some people derided them because they occasionally made “stupid” mistakes and people resented being corrected by a machine. Those days are behind us for spell check, but we can expect similar resistance against every new type of augmented writing tool.
  • Augmented writing tools are likely to be very cheap, just as spell checkers are.
  • If we see augmented writing as a kind of AI coach, then does that mean the Chief Learning Officer should be promoting their use?

What’s really important

  • Textio is just one example of an augmented writing tool. They will become pervasive, with various specialized applications, and will get better all the time.
  • It’s important to build an intuition about what AI can do and its limitations; the best way to do this is to experiment with these tools on an ongoing basis.