Is there really a talent shortage? Or are there qualified candidates out there who are being passed over by poorly written and over-engineered job descriptions, exasperated by technology that doesn’t “think” and only matches? It’s a good question to ask yourself.

It is called the “paper ceiling.” By definition, it’s the challenge created when résumés do not reach hiring managers due to AI matching tools screening out too many candidates too early in the process based on résumé “review” alone.

I liken this to a hypothetical scenario of a hiring manager looking for candidates for an open recruiter role. As part of the job description, the manager hopes to find a candidate wearing a red shirt. The manager stops for lunch in a deli. Seeing a table of four people wearing red shirts, the manager asks if any of them is interested in his recruiter role, but they all respond that they’re looking for jobs in other fields. The manager gets a sandwich and leaves — oblivious to the fact that a recruiter wearing a blue shirt in the next booth is trying to get their attention.

This scenario isn’t quite as far-fetched as it may seem. Take the experience of a job seeker recently interviewed on a morning network news program. The job descriptions for the roles he typically applied for required a college degree, customer service experience, flexible work hours and computer skills. Although he didn’t have the college degree, he met all the other job requirements. After months of searching for a job, a recruiter finally took his call and explained the problem: His résumé was never getting submitted because AI was screening out candidates unless they met all requirements.

The original intent of using AI to help screen résumés by matching candidates to jobs, returning résumés to managers quickly and enabling recruiters to spend more time engaging with their job seekers is greatly beneficial to everyone involved in the staffing process. But somewhere along the way, the “intelligence” took over and decided the match had to be perfect before a résumé made it through the funnel.

We have seen AI work successfully for hard-to-fill jobs, where finding the needle in the haystack of résumés is difficult and time consuming. But when a job simply requires basic skills and much of what needs to be done can be taught, is it worth it to screen out candidates who are a 75% match for a job?

Contingent workforce program managers and staffing professionals can work together to alleviate this perceived talent shortage. Take a look at job descriptions and revise those that expect a perfect candidate. If using an AI tool to screen résumés, set the parameters to preferred versus required skills. And advise your engagement managers to consider candidates who apply for their job, see themselves in the role, want to learn and are trainable. Once a candidate is interviewed, the manager can then decide whether they are qualified. It’s old-school, yes, but if there truly is a talent shortage, take the challenge to open up your AI “review” and see what happens.