Chris Fields is a human resources consultant and resume writer from Memphis, Tenn. He is also the author of, a blog devoted to “work, leadership, HR, and sacrifices.” We recently spoke with Fields about how HR departments are increasingly using new technologies such as Big Data analytics to find and recruit better employees.

You wrote in your blog about your love-hate relationship with technology and automation. What are some things you think could be automated better? And on the flip side, some people say that HR is getting too automated, to the extent that someone with perfect experience can end up getting rejected because they don't happen to hit the right keyword in their application and the system spits them out. What advice do you give to companies looking to hire technical people to ensure they get the skills they need without eliminating perfectly reasonable options?

Really, we should definitely automate some benefit processes, such as updating your status and claims that are pending. Some things are okay to automate, but I think we over-automate things. When you over-automate in HR, you send the message that it’s not an open-door policy. So people don’t want to talk to you. They feel like there’s a system or an automated process for that. It takes part of our job away, and it takes away the employee, which is the most important part of the business.

You get so many applications and candidates per open job opportunity that it’s hard to screen them all. You want to put them through a system, check for keywords, and spit them out. You don’t want to waste a lot of time with resumes that aren’t properly updated. But it depends on the company size. In a big company, there’s no way around using an ATS [applicant tracking system]. But if you have the staff to give a resume a quick screen before putting it through the system, that would be a great idea. Some people hire screeners who look for keywords, but that could be a costly process.

For technical positions, anybody who considers themselves a technical professional would understand the need to have their credentials updated so they could pass through a process. But the company needs to set up a system to look for words that pop up so that it will include people, rather than eliminating them.

How important is diversity in IT, and what are some good ways for improving it?

I’m a big fan of diversity in all positions, and I’ve had debates with other recruiters and HR people about diversity in IT. Some say, “In IT, you just need a certain amount of talent, you don’t need diversity.” Well, in my experience in work, people who brought different things to the table helped us. It has always been a benefit. What female IT professionals go through (I’m not a female IT person, and I don’t know what they see vs. a male-dominated team), they add something that can be slightly different. Different experiences make things better. You never know what experience someone might have had that could help your team if you don’t try it.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of hiring internally, externally, and overseas?

Hiring internally definitely boosts the morale of your employees. When a company opens positions for internal talent to promote and move up, they achieve more and work toward that. When you hire externally only, it can be a morale killer. If jobs always go to external candidates, it makes employees feel they’re not valued.

There are times when hiring externally is the best option. If you want to get some new blood in, change the direction of things, if you’ve got a busted hiring process, you want to change the company culture — then hiring externally can be a good thing. Fresh blood can reinvigorate a company. There are different reasons for different hires.

I’ve not dealt with a lot of international hiring. If you have a presence you’re trying to expand globally, if you want to tap into a different market, hiring abroad could be a good way to get that started. But you have to be a little leery. Hiring overseas can be a more costly affair. It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish with your hire. Think about the effect it’s going to have on your current team and what you’re trying to accomplish.

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