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High-Volume Hourly Hiring Technologies Promise Big Things

Two grocery store workers walking out of the door.

​Editor's Note: In the SHRM Online column "Making HR Tech Easy" work tech expert Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP, will make complex HR technology understandable for all HR professionals, because having a high competency in HR technology is critical to moving your HR career forward.

There's a fundamental problem with applicant tracking systems (ATSs). It's not that they don't work. They work very well for the process they were designed to accomplish.

For the most part, ATSs do a very good job of helping organizations hire a salaried workforce—especially if you actually follow the process the ATS was designed to do. Too many of us break our ATSs by trying to customize the software to our bad hiring processes, and then we say the ATS doesn't work! But it's not the ATS' fault.

What modern ATSs are not designed to do well is process high-volume hourly applicants at scale and speed.

If we think about how most talent acquisition processes work, it's basically something like this:

Step 1: A candidate finds your job and applies.

Step 2: That application is accepted by the ATS, and it waits for a recruiter to take some sort of action on that application.

Step 3: An action takes place. That action could be to screen, interview, conduct an assessment, etc. That might take place immediately, but in most cases, there is a time gap. Depending on the position, that time gap could be hours or days—or indefinite. Hello, black hole.

Step 4: Based on research, less than half of your applicants will get dispositioned. But that means about half will not, so that's the next step.

Step 5: We, the hiring manager and talent acquisition professionals, make a decision to hire or not hire.

Honestly, this works fairly well for most salaried jobs. On the hourly side, this absolutely does not work, and it's the primary reason we have seen massive growth in the recruiting technology space around high-volume hourly hiring technology. The biggest players in this space include Paradox, Humanely, Fountain, Dalia, Talkpush, Workstream, Grayscale, and Harri. I'm sure there are others, but you can see how fast these technologies have come to market to solve our high-volume hiring issues.

How do these technologies change the hiring process presented above? Simply put, they automate some of the steps using artificial intelligence. Yes, robots can hire hourly workers faster than humans! Make no mistake, these are not your average chatbots. AI continues to advance at a very fast pace, and the greater volume of hiring it can experience, the better it becomes.

[SHRM members-only HR Q&A: What is artificial intelligence and how is it used in the workplace?]

The Power Lies in Immediacy

Unlike our salaried process, which can take weeks and months, hourly hiring can only take minutes or hours, or you risk losing those workers to any number of other jobs they can apply for and, in some cases, start working immediately. Your ability to immediately engage, 24/7/365, hourly applicants is paramount to your success at hiring those workers.

Using AI technology designed for hiring a high volume of hourly applicants, the process works more like this:

Step 1: Hourly candidate finds your job.

Step 2: Unlike our salaried process, the AI will then walk the candidate through a truncated application process, live, using chat and text, including a fast assessment and scheduling an interview.

Step 3: The interview process takes place.

Step 4: The hire-or-don't-hire decision is made by people, informed by technology.

Step 5: Onboarding is driven through the same AI process.

This entire process, depending on how fast you can interview, can be done within hours and days. Some organizations are eliminating the interview altogether—using only the assessment and AI screen to make a hiring decision. In these cases, hourly workers are getting job offers in minutes.

Does the Technology Work?

Like most technology that you'll implement, it depends on your definition of "work." Most organizations have no idea how many hourly applicants they are losing because they are forcing those applicants to apply in the same process as salaried workers. When an hourly applicant hits that process, most will drop off. Aptitude Research finds as many as 65 percent of candidates will drop off the process when not using conversational AI technology.

Can you use 65 percent more applicants? I would say most organizations would agree this is a huge win when it comes to determining the success of high-volume hiring technology.

Are There Any Drawbacks?

Like any automation, you lose some human touch. Depending on your employment brand, this could be a negative. Many candidates love using AI to apply and screen, but some don't. Some will want to speak to a real person.

Also, this technology tends to work best with no-skill, low-skill jobs. Once you start using it with jobs that are a bit more professional, candidates tend to think automation feels impersonal.

One company, Vette is looking to close this gap. Similar in many ways to the high-volume hiring technology, Vette allows the candidate to select an "Interview Now" button and immediately be connected with a professional screener who will screen each candidate based on a script the organization develops. The screen collects all the needed information, asks all the knockout questions and, based on the data, makes the decision to move the candidate forward in the process.

The hiring manager then receives an e-mail with all the data and answers from the screen—along with an audio recording of the actual screen. These audio files are a very powerful piece of information for hiring managers to listen to on their own time, especially when tasked with wearing a million hats and having to fit hiring into their daily workload.

Like conversational AI, the Vette screeners are open to screen 24/7, so you have the ability to ensure an hourly candidate who applies at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night can actually speak with a live person who is selling your employment brand and making an immediate in-person connection with your candidate. Organizations are also starting to use conversational AI with a screening aid like Vette, fully automating their hourly hiring process.

When you're hiring a few hourly workers a week, a lot of this technology doesn't make sense. But when you are hiring hundreds and thousands, this level of technology puts your organization at a competitive advantage in your industry and market.

These technologies are fairly new to the market, in that most are under five years old. This means this technology will continue to evolve very quickly, and I expect to see massive advancements in how well these tools work. While they all can help you immediately, we should expect they will continue to get better and cheaper as the technology continues to advance.

Tim Sackett, SHRM-SCP, is the CEO of, the author of The Talent Fix (SHRM, 2018) and a popular speaker at HR conferences. You can read his daily newsletter at


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.