The Future of Talent Acquisition: Perfecting the Human Experience in the Age of AI

BY Matthew Koehler | January 09, 2024

Gen Z will make up the majority of the workforce by 2030, and they’re a bit of an oddity in the hiring process. They want their transition from college to career to contain a bit of the old, like internships, work experience, and completed classes but especially the new, like quick and easy online applications. 

“What we’re seeing is that the ease of modern applications and technology is really contributing to this high volume of applications,” said Kate Beckman, executive manager of RippleMatch. “Students today are taking advantage of the way that technology is designed for volume without necessarily taking into account what happens after that application is submitted.”

RippleMatch is a job matching AI technology and the brainchild of Andrew Myers, founder and CEO, who experienced his own turbulent entry into the job market after college. Beckman and Myers joined freelance journalist, and former managing editor of CNN Business, Kelly Bourdet, for a From Day One webinar. The platform started in Myers’ dorm and was “created to make life easy on companies so they can provide really strong candidate experiences and access the right candidates, regardless of race, background, or where the candidates come from.”

Eliminating Bias and Streamlining the Hiring Process

“We’ve been conducting a lot of research on Gen Z through the years, but new data really shows that the next generation of candidates are influencing the recruitment process for everyone,” Beckman said. She provided some key insights and research to head the conversation on how AI can perfect the human experience in talent acquisition.

According to Beckman’s research for RippleMatch:

  • 50% of students said they'll submit over 100 applications (just this past autumn), a third of those will submit closer to 200.
  • More than two thirds believe companies should respond to them within 5-7 days.
  • 72% of candidates say they would feel frustrated if they took the time to file an application and never heard anything back. They’d prefer an impersonal rejection notification over nothing at all. 
  • Gen Z job seekers expect no more than four weeks to get a response on a job, even if it's a rejection. 
  • About 70% say if they’ve gone through some kind of interview process that not hearing back lends to a negative experience.
  • Lack of information on what to expect going forward is another contributing factor to a negative application process.
  • A lack of diversity amongst interviewers is another factor that weighs on the minds of job seekers. 
  • Black and Hispanic women select that lack of diversity among interviewers is the number two factor that will contribute to a negative experience interviewing. 

The biggest hurdle for AI in talent acquisition is not reproducing the bias of their human creators as early platforms did. Myers says the goal and success of modern AI is to fix the mistakes of the past.

Previously, recruiters would focus on the same top schools for candidates, which exacerbated biases. The same was, and still is, done in corporate America with diversity recruiting. Recruiters end up at the same HBCUs or HSIs, but neglect other talent pools.

“There are incredible HBCUs and HSIs all over the country. But if we’re speaking from a representation perspective for Black or Latine candidates, many of those candidates don’t go to HBCUs or HSIs," Myers said.

But as other From Day One panel experts have discussed, without proper monitoring, AI will reinforce human biases. To better train bias out of the AI recruitment process, Myers says you have to focus on outcomes, not intentions.

Moderator Kelly Bourdet spoke with Andrew Myers and Kate Beckman of RippleMatch at the From Day One webinar (photo by From Day One)

“This is a really new space. And even the regulators are having to learn how to do this really thoughtfully on the fly,” Myers said. The technology is there. “There just hasn’t been a very AI-focused diversity company that’s really existed on a massive scale before.”

One of the regulators Myers referenced is a New York law seeking to regulate how companies use AI in the hiring process. The law requires employers to have annual third-party 'bias audits' to show that the AI technology they use is free of racist or sexist bias, according to reporting from Axios.

However, as Beckman points out, modern AI tools are helping companies move beyond academic prestige, “which inhibits representation and diversity” by pushing them to “expand their reach and sort through those candidates in a more efficient manner.”

Efficiency, though, has created an arms race of submitting applications where neither the candidate nor the employer wins. To avoid this, RippleMatch sends job seekers opportunities that truly fit their skills and qualifications. They quickly send a rejection if they’re not a fit for the role, or help companies move forward quickly if they are, Beckman says.

“The beauty of AI is you can instantly tell that probably 50-75% of candidates don’t meet a basic qualification for a role,” Myers said. “We sometimes picture AI being this black box, doing all these weird scores. But the reality is, AI can be really transparent as to why a candidate isn’t qualified.”

To accurately and efficiently match candidates, RippleMatch does two things. On the company side, they figure out what’s missing from their talent pipeline. On the candidate side, instead of getting “all these messages that feel a lot like spam,”  Myers says they’re getting sent opportunities directly related to their skills. “If you’re getting this opportunity, it means you’re really qualified. The company’s missing a candidate like you, and you should certainly pay attention to the opportunity.”

Beckman says that with Gen Z, a cohort that’s just entering the workforce and may not have a lot of experience, RippleMatch can point them in the right direction, or towards jobs they didn’t know existed. “If you’re at a career fair, you go to the most recognizable companies. So many companies out there offer amazing pay and awesome culture, and candidates just aren’t discovering them organically. But this technology automates that career discovery process."

Applying for Jobs and Starting a New One

What are the challenges RippleMatch sees going forward? Balance and nobility.

Beckman points to the convenience AI lends to the application process, especially for Gen Z, but says a balance must be struck between using the technology to enhance career discovery and starting a job, not just endlessly applying for hundreds of jobs.

“Submitting 200 applications because you just have to click a button instead of considering, is this an organization I want to work for? Am I invested in what this company is doing? Am I excited about this job description?” Myers said.

Myers sees a noble cause in connecting people to the right jobs but touched on the apprehension and risk in AI. “I think being in the TA space, especially early career, is incredibly noble. Connecting people with the right jobs is a really meaningful thing to do. Jobs have such an impact on people’s identities, their livelihood, and on their families.”

“My biggest push on AI in general is, if this is something that you’re passionate about, don't avoid it because you have some concerns. Engage in how we can design the course of this technology in a way that’s actually really good for humanity and for the values that you care about," Myers said.

Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, RippleMatch, for sponsoring this webinar. 

Matthew Koehler is a freelance journalist and licensed real estate agent based in Washington, DC. His work has appeared in Greater Greater Washington, The Washington Post, The Southwester, and Walking Cinema, among others.


Empowering People With Eating Disorders to Recover at Home

Eating disorders affect nearly one in 10 Americans, and 10,200 deaths each year are the direct result of one of these illnesses. However, the United States has a shortage of experts providing treatment, says Dr. Erin Parks, co-founder and chief clinical officer of Equip, a 100% virtual eating disorder treatment program. “I think it’s generous to say that there’s even 5,000 outpatient specialists,” Parks told Lauren Burkavage, senior director of the strategic partnerships team at Accolade, during a From Day One webinar. Another key issue in eating disorder treatment is it requires a multidisciplinary approach to be effective, says Parks. “It’s hard to put together a team because it often takes both medical and mental health professionals to help someone recover,” she said. Equip not only provides a five-person team for each patient, but also lets them recover in their own home. “We think it’s important to be at work, to be at school, to be at soccer practice, to be in their book club, because those are the reasons we recover,” Parks said. “We wanted to make sure treatment was being delivered at home around your schedule instead of having to give up on life to get better.”From an employer’s perspective, Equip results in reduced absenteeism because an employee who is either dealing with an eating disorder themselves or has a child dealing with one doesn’t have to “take them to appointments or travel to a residential treatment center, which many times aren’t closely located to where people live,” Burkavage said.Other Equip AdvantagesThere are four different kinds of treatment for eating disorders: a residential treatment center (RTC), where patients live full-time for a month or more; partial hospitalization (PHP), where the individual stays in a hospital for six to nine hours a day for five to seven days a week; intensive outpatient treatment (IOP), which lasts three hours a day for three to five days a week; and outpatient treatment, which is what Equip provides in a virtual setting.“Right now, about 85% of our patients meet criteria to go to IOP, PHP or residential, but choose to use Equip instead,” she said. One reason is a patient’s insurance might cover care at a residential treatment center, but when they go home, they can’t find a PHP, IOP, or even an outpatient provider.“That really contributes to the fact that 50% of patients usually relapse within a year of treatment, and it’s because treatment doesn’t last that long, just a couple of months,” Parks said. But in the Equip system, “a lot of our patients stay with us for a full year, really getting them to a solid place and giving them more than just a foundation,” she said. “They can see their life without an eating disorder by the time they leave.”Provider Diversity and Peer MentorsThe webinar featured Erin Parks, co-founder and chief clinical officer of Equip (company photo) One thing that prevents people from seeking treatment for eating disorders is the stereotype that they only affect thin, white teenage girls or young women, says Parks. “But the truth is eating disorders don’t discriminate,” she said. “At Equip, we’ve had patients as young as 5, and we’ve had adults in their 70s. Up to 40% of people who suffer are male. It affects all races and ethnicities equally, and it affects people at all areas of the socio-economic spectrum. And probably the most surprising thing is people with eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes.”Seniors, males, and people of color tend to want a provider that has a similar lived experience as they do, says Parks. In addition, someone who is transgender or gender non-conforming is four to five times more likely to develop an eating disorder than someone who is cisgender, Parks says. “It’s less safe for them to get treatment when they don’t have providers who understand the intersection between their gender identity and their eating disorder,” she said. This is why Equip is dedicated to increasing the diversity of its providers. The organization also has peer mentors, who are employees who have recovered from an eating disorder themselves. “Our patients really love working with their peer mentors because they have a shared identity.” Peer mentors “help to increase motivation, build a life worth living, and figure out why you want to recover from your eating disorder.” Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, Accolade, for sponsoring this thought leadership spotlight. Mary Pieper is a freelancer reporter based in Mason City, Iowa.

Mary Pieper | February 28, 2024

Lifestyle Spending Accounts: Offering Employees a Flexible Benefits Choice

It’s not always about dollars and cents, but about what you can do with them. That’s the takeaway that flexible benefits company Forma has found working with 280 companies across the globe.Megan Burns, benefits strategy team lead at Forma, spoke to these findings at a From Day One Webinar titled “How Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSAs) Revitalize Benefits for the Most Employee.” As a newer benefit in the industry, Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSAs) are growing. Fast. The biggest reasons?“The power in these programs is employee flexibility and choice,” Burns said. “Since employees can choose how to spend their money, there’s always something valuable for every employee to use those dollars on, and then no one is left out.”A Changing MarketplaceIt’s no surprise that the cost of employee benefits increases year after year. So benefits leaders need to ensure their dollars are working efficiently without compromising the quality of benefits. Employees are already feeling the pinch financially, Burns says, as the cost of living keeps going up.“This type of stress is impacting both workplace productivity, and also makes employees more likely to explore alternative positions outside of your organization, directly impacting your overall retention,” she said.Traditionally, lifestyle benefits solutions relied on a confusing point system, leading to low engagement and low appreciation. Meanwhile, it takes more work for the admin to run these programs. Enter LSAs: this new way of looking at benefits can be a win-win for companies in more ways than one.An LSA, which can be called by many names, is a customizable spending account that the employer designs and sets up, then the employee decides how to spend those funds within the parameters. LSAs look different from company to company, depending on their goals.Megan Burns, benefits strategy team lead at Forma, led the webinar (company photo)Empowering EmployeesSupporting employee wellness is one common way of structuring an LSA, Burns told the audience. You as the employer set the pillars and budget with specific parameters. For example, a company could allot $50 per month for each employee as part of their LSA.“Once that’s set in place, the employee then gets to decide how to spend that $50. Within those program parameters, those pillars, they may choose to spend that $50 on a local gym membership, or purchasing a bicycle or running shoes because they like to be outdoors.”But it doesn’t have to stop there. Employers could set up parameters for financial wellness, caregiving support, or other benefits that could help support employee wellness. Forma can help companies set it up and offer employees a debit card to a discounted store with 250 vendors, making each dollar go further.Dollars are only debited from the company if they are used by the employee, and Burns said a majority of employees don’t always use 100 percent of what’s allotted to them. Not only that, but there is cost savings thanks to lower call volume and admin time required. For one company, Forma was able to save them $500,000 in the first six months, partially because they could use the Forma platform and offload their expensive benefits software.“We worked cross functionally across a number of different teams to realize what that amount would look like. For this particular client, they did choose to reimburse for gym, home office expenses like internet, cell phone, and other wellness items.”Gaining PopularityEmployers and employees have both benefited from this program, which is why Burns said LSAs continue to grow. In fact, 70% of employers are currently considering adding a lifestyle spending account. A projected 13% of companies will have them in place by 2024 and 43% by the end of 2025.“Employers are more diverse and dispersed than ever before. There’s five different generations in the workforce, and the most efficient way to meet their unique needs is to provide them with choice and give them benefit dollars that they can then use towards what matters most to them.” That’s why LSAs also translate well across global populations, since they are customizable and can adapt needs country by country.According to a Radford analysis, employees ranked their 401k match as the most appreciated and valued benefit program, with LSA as a close second. It’s interesting to note, too, that employees actually ranked less dollars given to them and an LSA as high as having higher value than more dollars put into a program that's specifically designed with strict parameters and less choice, Burns explained.In Forma’s recent benchmark report of 200 companies with 450,000 members as of December 2023, the broad all-inclusive LSA is the most popular. One likely reason is that it helps companies reach their DEI goals.“They want to lean into that flexibility of choice where everyone gets the same dollar value, the same dollar amount, and then they get to choose on how to spend that money,” Burns said.One account some companies have set up is medical travel. Especially for those who are in underserved areas and require medical services in another area, employees can get reimbursed for travel costs associated with medical procedures. Education repayment and other development reimbursement is also high on the list of LSAs for companies, as are home office reimbursements, rewards and recognition, caregiving, and even meal delivery service. The opportunities are endless.Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner, Forma, for sponsoring this webinar.Carrie Snider is a Phoenix-based journalist and marketing copywriter.

Carrie Snider | February 27, 2024

Helping Employees Organize Their Lives Now for When They're Not Around Later

On the proverbial starting line of her new life, excitedly using wedding planning websites and apps, Abby Schneiderman started wondering about the finish line. Where were all the websites and apps and guides for end of life?That was the small beginning of what would eventually become Everplans, a platform that helps people get prepared for the unexpected. Schneiderman detailed the company’s story and pillars at From Day One’s conference in Atlanta. A tech entrepreneur, her curiosity wasn’t that out of the ordinary. She researched and found plenty of resources for having children, buying a home, financial planning, and retirement planning. But that’s where it ended. “There were no other life stages covered online,” she said. Schneiderman brought her findings to tech veteran Adam Seifer. “I said, who's helping people deal with death?” It’s interesting to note that not all big life stages happen for everyone. Not everyone gets married or has kids, but each person will face death.“Everybody has to deal with this one day,” she said, whether it’s for themselves or for their aging parents, but this is something we can’t avoid.”To fill the online gaps, Schneiderman and Seifer started writing content. Over 500 articles worth of content at first, which has grown into the thousands. It covers every conceivable end-of-life topic, such as how to write a will, what to wear to a funeral, and how to name a health care proxy. Everplans was born. They immediately saw the value of their work.“We started coming up very highly in Google searches for every article we were writing.”A New PerspectiveThen came hard, personal experience. Schneiderman’s 51-year-old brother was killed by a drunk driver. In an instant, everything changed for her and her family. Thankfully he had life insurance, but that was where the documents and pre-planning stopped. No will, no organization of his accounts, no funeral wishes. That’s when Everplans made a major pivot. Rather than only provide articles and resources, Schneiderman and Seifer wanted to do more. “We wanted to help people get a plan in place ahead of time, so that when the time does come or when an emergency strikes, families have access to what they need.”Today, Everplans is a technology platform that helps people to organize, store, share, and everything from wills to policies to health directives to online accounts up to date. To date, over 30 million have engaged their resources since we launched, and over 160,000 people have created “vaults” on the platform, with over 3 million pieces of information stored and shared.Abby Schneiderman, co-founder and co-CEO of Everplans, led the thought leadership spotlight in Atlanta (photo by Dustin Chambers for From Day One)The co-founders also wrote a book, In Case You Get Hit By a Bus: How to Organize Your Life Now for When You're Not Around Later, in the hopes of helping people be better prepared for what’s to come. That’s why Everplans has entered the benefits space—to help companies help employees get the peace of mind that comes with getting things in order. “There’s a major tie between personal productivity and workplace productivity,” Schneiderman said.  Speaking of full-time employees in the U.S., here are some statistics she reported: 65% feel anxious when critical information and documents are all over the place, 84% are less productive when they feel disorganized, and 86% are less stressed when they feel more organized. And Everplans aims to help remedy that. After creating an Everplans vault, you can upload documents and pertinent information, as well as designate “deputies” or loved ones who should have access to your vault now and after you die. Below are the four pillars Everplans recommends each person looks at when adding to their vaults. The platform also nudges you at regular intervals to make sure everything is up to date.Documents: Things like legal documents, wills, assets, power of attorney, advanced directives, and more. Since end-of-life documents like power of attorney can be hard for many people, Everplans give pointers on how to broach this topic with different people in your life. Insurance: Policies like life, health, auto, home, property, pet, disability, and more. Schneiderman explained that every year, billions of dollars go unclaimed because of policies family members don’t know about. Assets: This includes financial accounts and digital assets. Making sure that bank accounts, safe deposit box information, credit card accounts, 401k and other retirement accounts, and every other account are in the vault is vital for loved ones to be able to access them after you pass. At the very least, put in what the account is even if you don’t put usernames or passwords.  As far as digital assets go, did you know the average person has 240 passwords? Social media, cryptocurrency, cell phone, unlock computer code, email accounts, and just about everything else. Schneiderman said they did a study, and 65% of people keep track of passwords in their heads. She recommends using two password managers, one for work and one for personal. Leaving a Legacy: Think about the different types of things that matter to you that you want to pass down, Schneiderman said. Recipes, videos, photos, stories, and anything else you can think of that leave a legacy.  The great thing about putting your affairs in order is this: you can have peace of mind knowing that if anything does happen to you, your loved ones don’t have to scramble. They can access all of the needed information without searching for it or worrying they’ve missed something. That would make any employee sleep better at night.Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, Everplans, for sponsoring this thought leadership spotlight. Carrie Snider is a Phoenix-based journalist and marketing copywriter.

Carrie Snider | February 21, 2024