Attract applicants. Assess CVs. Interview candidates. Recruit. Repeat.
It’s the tedious recruitment model used by millions of organisations through the past few decades.
But with companies now spending $1,700 ($US1,200) annually on training each new employee, it is little surprise that the ‘traditional’ recruitment model is starting to be seriously questioned.
Deloitte has revealed in its HR Tech Disruptions Report that the recruitment market now faces significant disruption, with innovative tools such as video assessment now attracting solid investment from countries around the world.
“The recruitment software market is the most dynamic and exciting space in HR tech today, probably because there are so many niches to cover,” the report explains.
And barriers to entry are being kept relatively low as “millions of companies around the world need recruiting tools, so even a small recruiting software vendor can grow,” Deloitte says.
The report lists some of the “more disruptive” players in the recruitment game.
Putting neuroscience to work
On the list is Pymetrics – a start-up that combines neuroscience and AI to deliver targeted recruitment solutions for the likes of LinkedIn, Accenture, Tesla, Rio Tinto and Unilever.
Company founder Frida Polli spent a decade as an academic neuroscientist at Harvard and MIT.
But it wasn’t until she chased a passion for business and commenced her MBA at Harvard that she came up with the idea for Pymetrics.
Speaking with Information Age, Pymetrics APAC Managing Director Grace Kerrison gets to the crux of what the company is and why it’s different.
“Instead of going to the same schools or to the same industries in the same companies to attract talent, this now gives you a view to cast a really wide net and use us as a first filter,” she explains.
Pymetrics is a series of games for applicants to complete as an initial step in the recruitment process.
There is no winning or losing the games, nor are there right or wrong answers.
Rather, each game uses neuroscience to highlight the specific traits of applicants, and match them to the roles which they are best suited.
The formula is simple.
Successful incumbent employees in the company complete the games.
The traits of the incumbent employees are recorded, before a bias-free algorithm matches applicants who have demonstrated similar traits.
And although there are no right or wrong answers, candidates are placed in a low to high range on a number of key characteristics, including attention, distraction filtering, multitasking, memory, planning speed, effort, emotion identification, altruism and fairness.
Six seconds per CV
Amongst other things, it is the relative simplicity of the Pymetrics model that truly highlights the existing problems with recruitment.
“A recruiter spends all of six or seven seconds reviewing one CV to see whether they’re going to be successful inside a company and 40-50% of the time it’s actually not accurate,” Kerrison continues.
“A CV is the least predictive of success. But as you go higher up and the more multi assessment measures that you use, you become more predictable.”
Not only can Pymetrics help recruiters filter through swarms of applications, it can also give candidates a nudge in the right direction.
A study by the Association of Graduate Recruiters in the UK found that employers lose 16% of all graduates within two years.
And while there are a number of factors that contribute to these high attrition rates, the reality is many graduates enter the workforce still unsure on what role they are suited to.
Pymetrics APAC Managing Director Grace Kerrison. Source: Supplied
Pymetrics is now working with some of its biggest clients, such as Unilever and Accenture, to match graduates across multiple roles.
“With one gameplay for a graduate, we can match them across seven roles,” explains Kerrison.
“At the backend we have a ‘fit score’ that says ‘highly-recommend’, ‘recommend’ or ‘do not recommend’.
“We can see what would be the most successful role that person can take within that company.”
Candidates also receive a unique trait report after completing the games, mapping their performance against the specific metrics.
Tools like these help candidates in future job applications and are helping create what Kerrison describes as a “candidate-driven marketplace”.
The challenges ahead
It’s no secret that recruitment is one serious industry.
KPMG valued the Australian recruitment industry at $11.2 billion in 2015-16, with almost 7,000 recruitment agencies in the local market.
And technology looks set to become a key enabler for businesses looking to take a piece of the lucrative recruitment pie.
But the relative lack of innovation in the space so far makes technologies like Pymetrics groundbreaking.
So groundbreaking, in fact, that it becomes an obstacle.
“If you look at HR, this is not a traditional technology buyer within an organisation,” says Kerrison.
Uptake of Pymetrics has followed a traditional adoption curve so far, she says.
“Our view is, if we can work with right companies who really can move the market, the flow will be amazing by the time the rest of the market is ready to embrace it.”
Cold hard data
As for one Australian company, it is the cold hard truth of data that is being used to move the recruitment market.
In what is a telling tale of just how immature the HR technology space is, four-year-old PredictiveHire was “one of the early players in the space”, says company CEO Barb Hyman.
Like Pymetrics, PredictiveHire utilises AI and machine learning technologies to deliver the best possible recruitment outcomes for its clients.
But the two companies are far from like-for-like.
PredictiveHire is all about the power of data. It thrives off tangible results and like any machine learning algorithm, it gets better as it learns more.
PredictiveHire CEO Barb Hyman. Source: Supplied
“We’re like Netflix for recruiting,” says Hyman.
But rather than sending applicants into a spiral of binge viewing, it gives them a carefully crafted survey to fill out, designed to identify the traits that best correlate with success in the respective role.
Performance data – think productivity metrics, sales metrics, turnover data, HRIS data, even rostering data – is fed into the PredictiveHire model and used to identify what success looks like.
“It means that not every customer can use our product,” Hyman openly says. “If you don’t have any way of measuring performance other than turnover and absenteeism, it’s very hard to get your ROI.”
“The product works particularly well with businesses in retail, sales and contact centres because there’s both productivity metrics and outcome metrics.
“This isn’t ratings, because ratings are notoriously subjective. This is hardcore business measures.”
The data is sent through to PredictiveHire on a monthly basis and is used to retrain the model. This also allows for an agile approach to what is deemed success.
And its data-driven model has drawn the attention of some of the biggest names in Australian HR and recruitment.
The company recently inked major deals with both Hudson Australia and PageUp, which help continue the implementation of predictive analytics in HR and the recruitment process.
Empowering recruiters and candidates
One of the most pertinent issues with the traditional recruitment model is that the recruiter or HR manager is cut out of the process as soon as the hire is made.
This gives the recruiter very limited feedback as to whether or not the selected candidate was successful.
PredictiveHire addresses this.
“HR doesn’t often get the business data, they don’t ever get to know how successful this person was,” Hyman says.
“It makes recruiters feel less like process people and more like business people.”
Hyman has a background as a lawyer, but it was her time working in HR at the REA Group that ignited her passion for disrupting recruitment.
At the core of this is a desire to drive out the biases that have become far too common in recruitment.
A study at Yale University found that male and female scientists – those with an education underpinned by unwavering objectivity – were more likely to hire men over women, even when the qualifications of the applicants were identical.
“What you absolutely want to do is ensure you’ve got a diverse group of people in the business, because what drives innovation is difference,” Hyman says.
And while initiatives such as unconscious bias training can help, at the end of the day it is just a ‘tick the box’ exercise, Hyman believes.
It is technology that can provide a meaningful tool when it comes to removing bias in recruitment.
“How do you improve the fairness so that everyone has a chance? With data you can really look at someone’s true DNA,” she continues.
“It’s about saying that you can be successful in a sales role, not because you’ve done sales or because you’ve got a degree in sales or you’re white or male, but because you’ve got the qualities that are going to make for a successful salesperson.
“You cut through any biases around what great looks like, which is usually how we all make our recruitment decisions.”
More than technology
The disruption of the recruitment market isn’t limited to advances in technology.
Rather, it is the reinvention of the ideas associated with recruitment.
WithYouWithMe (WYWM) was originally set up as a way to help ex-military personnel transition into the workforce.
The focus is on utilising some of the skills that became second nature through their training, and applying them to new contexts, particularly in high tech fields.
“What we’re really focused on are high tech skills that are in demand in the labour market,” says company co-founder and COO Luke Rix.
“Areas like data analytics, cloud computing, automation, cyber security – we’ve developed all of our own training in those courses to upskill to the market.
“At the moment there’s just a big lack of talent in each of those industries where veterans fill those gaps quite well.”
WithYouWithMe co-founder and COO Luke Rix. Source: Supplied
It’s a simple concept that has bred success.
WYWM has placed more than 750 military in “meaningful new careers” since it launched the program in 2016.
The company also climbed to second place in last year’s Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Awards in the ‘Rising Star’ category, recording an astronomical 3,427% annual growth.
It didn’t take long for Rix and the team to realise they could apply their principles to demographics beyond ex-military.
“We’ve got programs that help professional athletes when they’re transitioning out of sport into the corporate life,” Rix says.
“We’ve got return-to-work parents programs and we’ve also got programs which help students when they’ve graduated from university, who might not actually be job ready.”
An internally developed testing solution identifies “the underlying potential” in any given individual, highlighting just where they could fit in to the modern workplace.
“The testing gets to the root of your potential, whether that’s your aptitude, your psychometrics, your behavioural style,” he explains.
Finding common ground
The process of taking one set of skills and looking at how they can be applied in a new context allows WYWM to identify some patterns.
Rix gives the example of a cyber security professional.
“What we really target is what is it and what are the skills that make a good cyber security analyst or penetration tester,” he says.
“A lot of that comes down to the idea of an individual who is able to assess risk, assess threat and actually apply intelligence to make decisions in environments that require fast decision making.
“They’re invariably skills that individuals learn in the defence force.”
Throughout their journey, Rix and the WYWM team have learnt that sometimes the best talent is already in the company – just in the wrong role.
Potential – launched just last week – is WYWM’s talent sourcing platform that helps companies reshape their existing workforce to prepare for the future of work.
Using artificial technology, a company can test their entire workforce and use the data to identify which workers are best suited to moving into the most in demand roles.
Importantly, the software also puts company culture into the equation when finding potential suitors.
The program is about uncovering the “hidden talent” that companies might already have in their ranks, Rix says.
And it’s a program that could potentially save redundancies down the line.
“It’s not about hiring and firing, it’s about placing individuals where the greatest need is for the organisation.”
A world where recruitment is seamless and redundancies are redeployments?
Let’s see what happens.