A series of weekly outside-the-box news stories and their implications for recruiting by TAtech CEO Peter Weddle
Move over Universal Pictures.
Just like in the movies, Colossal Biosciences, which calls itself a “de-extinction” company, has announced plans to use gene editing technology to bring the Tasmanian tiger back from the dead. It follows on the heels of the startup’s earlier announcement that it also intends to de-extinct the wooly mammoth in the next five years.
The Tasmanian tiger got its name because it was native to Tasmania as well as Australia and New Guinea and had tiger-like stripes down its back. It was a relatively shy and nocturnal animal that also had an unusual distinction: it was one of only two species on Earth in which both the male and the female had pouches.
Despite its name, the tiger was actually a carnivorous marsupial that resembled a cross between “a wild dog and a wild cat.” It fed on large birds, especially chickens, a predilection that created a bias among farmers. They saw the tigers as a pest – a threat to their livestock – so they paid hunters a bounty to kill them. And, kill them they did. The last known tiger was shot in 1930, and the species was declared extinct in 1936.
Unlike the fictional tales, however, the goal of the Colossal Biosciences project isn’t to bring back these extinct creatures for the amusement of human tourists, but instead to create “a healthy population” of them that can exist in their native environment. Nevertheless, the announcement has raised ethical concerns among some, both because the tiger might not fare well in the recreation process and because if successful, it may encourage the de-extinction of other species … and gasp, even the prospect of a real, live Jurassic Park.
What’s that mean for talent acquisition?
I love that word, “de-extinction.” It’s the perfect way to describe what employers should be doing with the applicants whose resumes they now have stored in their ATS databases. Those resumes depict workers with a vast array of talents that could fill a significant number of an employer’s openings if they weren’t treated as though they no longer exist.
Now of course, many if not most recruiting teams say they do consider these extinct candidates in their talent acquisition, and perhaps they do. Maybe, it’s now routine that the recruiting campaign for any opening always begins with a review of an employer’s previous applicants. No gene editing technology is required; all you need is a password to the ATS. So, it’s uncomplicated and easy, right?
Well, maybe not. The number of openings actually filled with those individuals is small to negligible. Where’s the proof? There are literally millions of workers who got the silver ribbon in the contest for the first job to which they applied – they were the runner up, but a credible enough prospect to get serious consideration by an employer – and yet all we hear about is how hard it is to find talent in the public job market.
Why is that?
Unlike with the de-extinction of animal species, reanimating extinct human candidates doesn’t raise an ethical issue. After all, their resumes are in an employer’s ATS database because the candidates wanted them there. They could have told the employer to pound sand after being rejected for an opening, but instead they accepted that their resumes would be kept on file. They wanted to be reconsidered by the employer. So, it must be something else. There must be another reason why candidates in employers’ ATS databases are seldom selected for an opening. And unfortunately, as with the farmers who chose to eradicate the Tasmanian tiger, it may just be a bias.
The bias is unconscious, of course; recruiters as a group are among the most inclusive people on the planet. Nevertheless, it’s there, and it’s silently shaping their assessment of those extinct candidates. What recruiters see when they look at the resumes in their ATS database is applicants who have already been rejected once. To them, at some subliminal level, they fall short as viable prospects – a bias that feeds an inevitable conclusion. In their eyes, these former applicants are stereotyped as “once a loser, always a loser” and thus they cannot be credible candidates for another opening.
Food for Thought,
Peter Weddle is the author or editor of over two dozen books and a former columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He is also the founder and CEO of TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Solutions. You can download his latest book – The Neonaissance – FOR FREE at OneStoryforAll.com. And, if you don't have time to read the entire book, just download a short excerpt of his inspirational message.