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An HR perspective: the global hunt for talent in the digital age
Duncan R. Dickson and Khaldoon Nusair
Rosen College of Hospitality Management, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide the reader with a practical understanding of the ´ ´ dynamic changes in how resumes are handled by recruiters and the application of technology to the ´ ´ human resource (HR) functions not only of reading resumes, but also of how technology is making some of the initial decisions on how they are passed on to hiring managers. HR information system has changed the way talent is accessed, prescreened, sorted, and stored. Knowledge of these systems is imperative for the twenty-first century job-seeker. Design/methodology/approach – The authors interview industry practitioners regarding the use ´ ´ of resume scanning and identify the pros and cons of the systems from an industry perspective. Findings – These discussions find that technology will continue to impact HR group in the hospitality industry. As the HR teams find more and better ways to utilize the technology the applicant pool will have to adjust to ensure that they are not screened out because they are missing a “key word.” Research limitations/implications – The ever changing technology makes the information dated immediately on publication. The implication is that the search and hiring process has changed so dramatically that awareness of technology is important. Practical implications – Recruiters and job seekers must be aware of artificial intelligence, optical character recognition, and other scanning technologies. Understanding how technology is changing, even the most basic of HR practices is crucial. Originality/value – The paper presents a discussion about the new technologies being used in the ´ ´ job search and resume-handling process, as well as the industry practitioner opinion of the uses and benefits of the technology. Keywords Human resource management, Recruitment, Job applications, Communication technologies, Information systems Paper type Research paper


Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes Vol. 2 No. 1, 2010 pp. 86-93 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1755-4217 DOI 10.1108/17554211011012612

Introduction Over the past two decades, the hospitality recruiting process has grown in complexity putting tremendous pressure on human resource (HR) practitioners to find innovative ways to handle the recruiting function. Traditionally, hospitality organizations relied on fairly low-tech methods to attract capable employees. Such hiring practices have resulted over the years in operational inefficiencies. The recruitment function plays a major role in enhancing organizational survival and success in the extremely competitive business environment that exists today. As a result, many organizations have realized the need to implement HR information systems (HRIS) (Nusair and Parsa, 2007). Computer-based information technology has introduced a wide variety of HRIS applications that are helping to improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of the HR function. The introduction of these systems has made a strategic contribution to the hospitality industry. Technology-based recruitment systems are becoming one of the

´ ´ This paper examines the resume scanning systems that improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of the HR recruiting function. Recruiting systems aim to help hospitality enterprises to save costs by streamlining the hiring process.” This eliminates the need for faxing and possibly losing information . 1998). 2007) looking for keywords to achieve a match between applicants’ qualifications and job requirements. ´ ´ 2007). managers are capable of quickly and efficiently finding qualified candidates to fill a variety of job postings within the USA and overseas (Lin and Stansinskaya. mail. he is better prepared for interviews because he has access to all of the information. he does not see any negative in the online application process. Along with this quick response. sorting. many companies are now using scanning technology. The global hunt for talent in the digital age 87 After working in HR and operations for over 25 years. and storing ´ ´ ´ ´ resumes. This technology is playing a vital role in HRIS (Baker et al. it is easier to get a response back from them regarding an interview rather than waiting for the phone messages to be returned.. 2002). The company has been using the online application process for over two years and he says that the benefits are that there is “easy access” to the applications and that therefore the manager or supervisor can send a quick response back to the potential employee or manager. and he can ask more pointed questions during an interview to address issues that were posted on the online application. Thus. resumes are usually sent to employers in response to job postings via e-mail. The only negative I have heard from the managers is that they only get to see the online application before they call them for an interview – they don’t get to see them in person. According to Dave Schmidt. and matching those resumes to available job openings (Santosus. Rose Welindt from the Hilton stated that “online applications are more efficient than older methods and applications are able to be sent from property to property as the need arises. He is able to check references before calling someone for an interview. a Director of operations for a fast food franchise in the Midwest. The resulting influx of ´ ´ resumes has made it more difficult than ever to choose promising candidates from the mass of applicants. These sentiments were echoed by others in the restaurant and lodging industries. review. More advanced scanning ´ ´ software enable recruiting staff to search for keywords. The time wasted by HR ´ ´ employees trying to decipher these resumes is very costly. He believes that people now respond much quicker to e-mails rather than playing phone tag with each other. Once resumes are scanned.” and generate reports based on those “hits” (Guffey.most crucial applications in HRIS. Schmidt says: The company uses online applications for both managers and employees. or fax. then data are stored in the database for six months to a year. there are benefits to using an online application screening process for the employer as well as the potential employee. In an effort to increase efficiency and to overcome the challenge associated with the ´ ´ traditional way of processing resumes. rank resumes based on the number of matches or “hits. This exerted pressure on HR departments to hire more HR staff to sort. and keep track of attractive candidates. The ´ ´ scanning software has the capability of scanning an incoming resume with optical character recognition (OCR) (Guffey. Recruiting systems are touted to improve the process of hiring by quickly prescreening. 2005). ´ ´ In the traditional method of finding employees.

This paper will look at the ´ ´ factors that contribute to the decision to adopt resume scanning systems. AI can also be used to optimize the retention of HR. ´ ´ This paper sheds light into the extent to which resume scanning systems are utilized in the hiring process in hospitality hotels and it examines the benefits of adoption. a fax. and retention. The first AI programs focused on human tasks. personnel management. the findings of this research paper open ´ ´ new avenues of research within the area of resume scanning systems in hospitality. ´ ´ AI is a great asset to narrow down the candidate pool through resume scanning. 2005). training. Mehrabad and Brojeny (2007) found that AI would help the managers for optimal decision making in respect to selection process. evaluation. The resume is kept in the system for a defined amount of time which cuts back on resubmissions. After that. or an e-mail. and experience. HR managers can lower their turnover rate. the system’s artificial intelligence reads the text and extracts key data. qualifications. Moreover. AI could be used to improve HR management with regard to creating teams in the workplace by pairing members (Malinowski et al. and the time HR employees spend rereading ´ ´ the same resume. In addition. and who is likely to leave the company because of the constraints inserted into the AI program. education. If no match occurs. payment system. job rotation. skills. such as playing chess/checkers or responding to simple instructions. the use of online applications and screening processes allows industry HR practitioners to do their jobs better and with more accuracy. the system compares every vacancy in the organization and notes any/all matches. and trying to raise their overall happiness with the company. will to ´ ´ explore the benefits of resume scanning systems adoption. While the AI program cannot predict all . Singh and Finn (2003) found that an organization’s ability to attract and retain capable employees may be the single most important determinant of organizational effectiveness and that using a procedure that could help streamline this process would be beneficial to HR practitioners. Singh and Finn (2003) explained the way the system works as the following: Once a ´ ´ resume is received via a scanner. AI is streamlining the HR process and thus lowering costs. such as name. and the other personnel operations. The system is also capable of creating rank ´ ´ ´ ´ order lists of all resumes eliminating the need for the recruiter to review all resumes submitted. Being able to target these individuals. ´ ´ Although the resume scanning systems grew in importance over the past decade. it contributes significantly to the body of academic knowledge and to industry practices as well. therefore creating a stable work environment. The computer then organizes this information into a standard summary form dictated by the recruiter. and. address. job classification. In addition. This can be utilized by HR management to determine what their turnover rate is.WHATT 2. an OCR device converts the scanned material into basic format (American standard code for information interchange (ASCII)). Overall. the information is kept in the database until an ´ ´ appropriate opening occurs. Literature review Using artificial intelligence to improve the HR process The purpose of artificial intelligence (AI) is making HR positions easier for recruitment. assignment of personnel. recruitment. but have recently become more complex (Buchanan. Consequently. there is lack of academic research in hospitality in this topic. Once it is scanned. 2007) who might possess complementary skills and talents..1 88 between properties.

The resume is scanned into the computer as an image. Resume scanning system is an example of such technologies. Using a resume scanning system is considered a strategic way to develop a new philosophy towards the way in which ´ ´ the best candidates are screened for a specific job. then OCR software looks at the image to recognize every character. convenience. hospitality organizations ´ ´ are increasingly turning to IT to supplement the recruitment function. ´ ´ some can scan any resume in any format. web-based hiring programs aid in improving the hiring decisions. Resume scanning system is basically ´ ´ ´ ´ a system that scans resumes for prospects. speed. the AI program can also list common complaints and solutions to those complaints. As a result of such benefits. hourly turnover at the Mainstreet Grill was down by 50 percent since it started using the TraitSet program (Berta. 2005). on the other hand. ´ ´ Resume scanning ´ ´ Resume scanning systems are not new. symbol. ´ ´ The capabilities of resume scanning systems vary in sophistication. Hiring the right candidates can increase retention rates and save money. For example. Furthermore. as well as possible outcomes of all solutions to the issues. respondents identified the following as the most important reasons to use technology for recruiting purposes: access to more candidates. For example. the objective of this paper is to examine the pros and cons to using this technology from a practitioner’s perspective. wide ´ ´ distribution of postings. less paper work. Mailed and faxed resumes are scanned and the accuracy of the data is 85 percent while those submitted electronically have 100 percent validity ´ ´ (personal conversation bluepoint resume scanning. April 17. better resume management. In a survey by Kay (2000). 1997). 1997) that best fit the criteria established by the recruiter. There are three primary methods to populate a database via optical scanning and ´ ´ there are specialized firms that can do that. The main ways of submitting resumes are: ´ ´ mail. ´ ´ The sheer volume of resumes submitted in response to a single or few job openings ´ ´ continues to be a significant challenge for HR leaders. fax. The TraitSet program is a selection tool that uses standardized questions to assess potential candidates on various personality traits that are preselected as critical by industry practitioners. and better service. it was successful in a moderate decrease in turnover rate (Sexton et al. the hospitality industry has been slow in adopting this new technology. Once a resume is scanned it is ´ ´ automatically stored in a database. The artificial intelligence scans the text and uses keywords to select a few candidates from the thousands of applicants for the job (Bensson. other software might not recognize even the slightest differences from plain text such as bolding (Bensson. quality of candidates. They have been around for over 15 years. However. 2008). underlining and bullets. and number and creates a text file (ASCII). cost of placing job posting. The review of current literature on this subject reveals a lack of research addressing ´ ´ the benefits that are associated with implementing the resume scanning systems in the hospitality industry. and electronically. improved ability to target specific audience.turnover. absence of middlemen. In an industry beset chronically by high employee turnover rates. Therefore.. 2007). There are many advantages for using IT to recruit. including those with italics. HR practitioners can use this tool to screen potential The global hunt for talent in the digital age 89 . It will also help HR ´ ´ practitioners have a better understanding of the benefits of implementing a resume scanning system.

and Shanghai. Plaxo. The technology will choose from all the candidates and provide the recruiter a list of the ten “most qualified” based on the information that the system is provided. Knowing that their curriculum vitae (CV) will be scanned and reviewed using OCR technology means that they will have to imbed key words from the position announcement in their documents to insure that the query system picks them from the group of applicants. The answer can be found in the literature that is predominant talking about the “Global war for talent” prevalent due to emerging economies (India. 2000). No longer will humans be looking at the CVs and perhaps picking that “diamond in the rough” to interview. Myspace. but it is a less personal HR process.. educators need to be able to prepare students to be competitive for opportunities that may be far from where they can conveniently interview in a global economy. 2008). 2008). Almost gone are the days of newspaper advertising to bring in youth to apply for jobs.7 million and by 2010 the USA will face a shortage of close to ten million workers. As paperless recruiting systems become more prevalent.1 90 candidates for fit in the job prior to the interview process and it allows everyone to be viewed from the same lens with regard to job qualifications and chosen criteria. The world is changing rapidly and . China. Macao. thus it is incumbent upon us as educators to insure that our students are prepared to meet the challenges of applying for career positions using the most up to date technologies. etc. Tagged. it is more incumbent on educators to teach the latest methods of the hiring process. Every day there seems to be a new networking tool such as Linkedin. Some professionals believe that as many as 90 percent of candidates use some type of web interface to apply for positions (Oracle. Facebook. Dubai. It creates more efficiencies. but it is the future. To be competitive in the future. applicants must be able to express their skills in methods that have not previously been typical. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the young adult workforce (25-40) will decline by 1. that the students entering the workforce in the second decade of the twenty-first century need to understand.) and the coming mass departure from the workforce of the generation termed the “Baby boomers” (Zemke et al. Other developed countries will see similar declines (Taleo.WHATT 2. These numbers show that companies (and especially hospitality companies) need to find systems that can process information and extract salient attributes from that information so they are able to respond to the talent shortage as quickly as possible. As we see the growth of hospitality in places like Dubai. The trend toward using scanning software seems indisputable. This means that educators need to prepare their students in how to apply for positions in the new technology enhanced world that society is transitioning towards at a very rapid pace. Today is the electronic mainstream of information that organizations need to catch up with. This may seem sterile and cold. Importance to hospitality educators Many hospitality educators may be asking why this is just not a foot note to discuss in the typically cursory HR class taught in most hospitality management curricula. Educators need to equip students with the skills to be successful in a technologically influenced selection process. etc. It is also critical for industry practitioners to keep you with current trends in technology to obtain applicants and to connect with them at various levels.

do we lose the analytical touch that a human review could perform? For example. Researchers need to take a look at this issue. and rooms/housekeeping). No longer do applicants have to physically take their application to the employer. The global hunt for talent in the digital age 91 To assist with the war on talent. it will allow us to process candidate information more rapidly and produce short lists virtually without any human oversight. In our specifications that we provide our scanning system and AI query. 2007. Using ´ ´ the scanning system this resume would never see the recruiter. By moving the application process to a purely transactional model. and reward their employees. . train. let us assume that we are searching for a hotel assistant general manager or resident manager to groom into the next general manager for our 750 room convention hotel. Had the recruiter seen ´ ´ the physical resume.hiring (or at least call in for interview) decisions are being made on parameters that could not even be dreamt of 20 years ago. 2007). etc. F&B. the loss of human oversight of such an important function could be detrimental. it is said that a college degree is required (a common and simple request). especially in the light of the fact that the global war for talent is going to be one of our biggest challenges as we move forward into the twenty-first century (Ready and Conger. placing those tasks at the heart of their business plans. the individual does not have a college degree. Simple letter generated responses can cost up to $2. Using technological HR applications. information exchange is being done via multiple means that include. The use of technology does not come without a cost. organizations will be able to compete for talent on a global basis. Importance to practitioners The war for talent was eloquently expressed by the Wall Street Journal when they said (Ready and Conger. That is what AI is going to do. In addition. However. As we move forward. it is imperative that companies find ways to handle applicants from all over the world in quick and expedient ways. thus the savings in a large-scale employment operation can be huge. twitter. it is very likely that the candidate would have at the very least received a telephone interview. Not only are cell phones a way of life. ´ ´ A resume comes through of an individual with 15 years of experience (five each in leadership positions in hotel marketing and sales. Technology will allow those in search of talent to handle and process applicant information in a phenomenally faster way. rather than waste time and resources attacking each of the issues individually. paragraph 3): To meet the challenge. but are not limited to. facebook. This cost is not just the systems and software cost. the internet. There is a human cost as well.50 per letter (on an automatic letter reply system). This is where further research needs to be performed. They can also establish certain response mechanisms that generate communication parameters to applicants that save money (responses automatically generated to applicant e-mails that are pulled from scanned ´ ´ resumes will save in stationary and postage costs). cell phones. they have an opportunity to address all these separate problems with a unified plan. as the transformation of information multiplies formats the handling of this information must adapt to the influx. Consequently. the individual is fluent in Japanese (18 percent of our group business is with Japanese tour operators). companies must rethink how they hire. there are opportunities online for the delivery of applications selection tools. In doing so.

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. Corresponding author Duncan R. Zemke. American Management Association. July 15. Further reading Or visit our web site for further details: . New York. available at: (accessed March 18. NY. personal communication. Dickson can be contacted at: ddickson@mail. Generations at Work. (2009).emeraldinsight. personal communication. C. and Filipczak. “What SMBs should look for in an applicant tracking system”. taleo. B. R. Raines. 2007). The global hunt for talent in the digital age 93 To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight. Welindt. (2009).Taleo (2008). July 15. (2000). D.ucf.

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