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A 2017 Wall Street Journal study found that employers have a very or somewhat difficult time finding people with the soft skills they need. But what if employers are looking for soft skills but aren’t seeing them? The vast majority of midsize and large employers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada use applicant tracking systems.

More employers say it’s hard to find people with soft skills than with hard skills

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) allow employers to post new job openings online and manage the hundreds of candidates who typically respond to each opening. No human hiring manager reviews hundreds of applications.

Instead, the ATS generates a manageable number of candidates for the recruiter to review. How does the ATS do this? It’s not magic, but rather a keyword-based filter that compares resumes to the published job description and lets through candidates who seem like a better fit.

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The keyword filter at the top of most employers’ recruiting funnels has a number of interesting side effects. One is the phenomenon of resume spam: candidates who literally copy the job description in white text onto their resumes in order to get through the screen. The other is the overemphasis on technical skills.

Faced with the need to screen hundreds of candidates for each online job posting, employers have added many new job requirements, most of which are technical in nature.

According to Burning Glass, in almost every profession, technical skills now play a greater role in demonstrating the competencies required in job descriptions than cognitive and interpersonal skills combined.

While the dominance of technical skills in job descriptions is likely a reflection of the fact that it’s easier to come up with 10 technical requirements for a job than 10 different ways to say problem-solving or communication skills, it’s a reality that millennials face when they’re being viewed by hiring managers. Because if they don’t have those technical skills, they won’t pass the ATS filter. And if they don’t pass the ATS filter, they’re effectively invisible to employers.

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Does this mean there is a lack of soft skills, or that millennials are late, disorganized, and poor communicators? The punctual, organized, and articulate millennials that employers should want have played by the rules and graduated from college.

But because virtually all colleges and universities still live in a bubble, floating high above the mundane concerns of the labor market, and because they still think that the job of higher education is to prepare students for their fifth job.

Universities have not taken seriously the provision of technical training to students at the last stage. So all these millennials are left out.

The first is to enable all representatives of the Millennial generation to stand out in the eyes of employers through technical training at the last stage

The second is that employers need to escape the tyranny of the keyword-based filter at the top of the recruiting funnel. Employers need to demand that their ATS providers, such as Taleo (Oracle), incorporate new technologies that allow them to screen (and search) for competencies, not keywords.

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The shift to competency-based hiring is inevitable and will expand the top of the hiring funnel to include candidates with excellent interpersonal skills and likely more diverse backgrounds than the current system of hiring based on background and degrees allows.

Gyroscope founder Anand Sharma seems quite happy when we meet for a stroll at The Mill, a trendy cafe known for its $4 toasties in San Francisco’s NOPA district. It’s a rare sunny day in the city, and his startup is growing.

His self-tracking platform with a sleek user interface has added a genetics component, step tracking, and soon blood tracking. He’s also closed a small amount of angel funding from anchor investors like Periscope founder Keyvon Beykpour.

Even Jack Dorsey started using Gyroscope, he tells me. Sharma worked on it for more than two years! At the time, he called it AprilZero, but the idea grew to include friends and, soon, anyone who wanted to track themselves on various health and wellness metrics.

The plan now includes the places you visit, what you eat, how many times you run a year and how much time you spend staring at the screen in front of you.

Sharma is developing his next big project

The platform seems like an extension of the quantum self-movement, a movement that combines technology with personal data to help you improve your life in some way, mentally or physically. But Sharma rejects that suggestion.

I don’t like to put myself in that category, he says. Mainly because these guys are a little weird. He’s not wrong. The movement, also known as life logging, conjures up images of people wearing six different health bands, sensors on their heads, and measuring every little detail of their activities in every part of their lives, which can sometimes be very confusing.

But Sharma, who we wrote about earlier when he was just starting out, has really shaped the platform from the start. Gyroscope is now on the App Store!

It took into account factors that impact productivity, such as the amount of time spent surfing the web each day, and added a competitive enhancement to the platform that lets you compare your step counts with your friends on the platform.

This summer, it’s also rolling out a feature called Insights, an AI component that’s meant to help you make connections between certain behaviors and what you’re logging on the platform. Sharma tells me it’ll work by drawing those connections and then sending push notifications to motivate and remind Gyroscope users to do something related to their goals.

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