U.S. Xpress in the vanguard on robo-recruiting

September 5, 2018

John Bendel

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U.S. Xpress has been sued over robocalls.

Seems the big carrier’s recruiting program dialed a potential driver four times late last year, so the driver sued, claiming the calls were frustrating, obnoxious and annoying, not to mention a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.

That case is an indicator of a new trend in personnel recruitment – automated technology. Today, you can actually be recruited by a robot for a job you don’t know about at a company you never heard of. You don’t have to fill out an application or ask for information or even visit a website. Maybe you’re not looking for a job at all. It doesn’t matter. The recruiting robot will find you.

For example, a web company named Entelo searches the entire web looking for people who meet their customer’s profiles. According to its website, Entelo scours Facebook,  Twitter, and virtually all other social media, plus public records, sifting through “hundreds of millions” of people to locate those with the right qualifications. They can even target people they believe are most willing to change jobs. When they’re found, Entelo emails them. Then the real recruiting begins.

On its website, Entelo lists major corporations among its customers; none of them are carriers. At least not yet. That’s also true of another recruiting site called Robot Vera, which seems to pick up where Entelo ends.

Enter the brown-haired, blue-eyed digital woman

Robot Vera is just that – a robot named Vera, a brown-haired, blue-eyed digital woman who actually talks with prospective hires. The Russia-based company calls those conversations “interviews.” I’m not so sure they qualify. Vera asks questions and you answer. Vera can even respond to an answer with a “Wow. That’s inspiring” or end an interview with “Have a prosperous day.” But it’s not really a conversation. It’s more like filling in application blanks by voice.

At one point in its online demo video, Vera asks a potential recruit to define “leadership” in one sentence without using the word leader – a pointless question human services people typically use to bulk up interviews. The interviewee answers that it’s about inspiring people. I found myself wanting to yell “It’s the moron up front shouting ‘Follow me!’”

Limited though it is, the company says Vera can be used in some circumstances – low-level jobs, for instance – to complete the entire application and interview process. If the candidate gets past Vera, he or she will almost certainly be hired.

Robot Vera is an impressive use of voice recognition software, which has come a long way in the past few years. The company, which has gotten lots of publicity for Vera, says it uses AI (artificial intelligence) to make Vera smarter – or at least able to recognize more recurring situations and respond accordingly. They claim their continuing work and AI will soon make Vera able to recognize anger, pleasure, and disappointment.

They also say Vera will be able to recognize sarcasm. That’s a problem for a lot of real people. If Robot Vera pulls that off, I’ll be seriously impressed.

Even if you don’t encounter robots yourself, they may be checking you out. Entelo, Robot Vera, and many other automated recruiting companies also provide application evaluation services. If you have tons of applications, the programs can scan them, read them through character recognition software, and make determinations about which applications should go forward and which should hit the trash can.

In any case, be prepared at some point in the future to be judged by an algorithm and maybe even have a chat.

Truckstop.com

John Bendel is Land Line’s contributing editor-at-large. A former trucker, former editor at National Lampoon and two trucking magazines, John is an author, photographer, and freelancer. His work has appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and many U.S. newspapers.