Beyond the Status Quo: 3 Innovative Sourcing Tools

When it comes to using technology to re-invent the hiring process, we have the job boards to thank for getting the ball rolling. It was job boards that created the fundamental shift in the way people look for jobs and the way companies look for people. Much of our industry has spent the past few years trying to either duplicate the functionality provided by job boards or build systems that allow companies to manage the downstream results of the changes created by job boards. But while job boards have certainly evolved over the past few years, their failure to evolve past the same basic model they have been using since day one has left companies and job seekers alike asking, “What have you done for me lately?” We are probably not alone in our opinion that job boards are falling way short of their potential when it comes to fulfilling their primary mission: routing candidates to the jobs for which they are most suited. We refer to this process of getting the right people into the top of the hopper as “sourcing” (traditionally sourcing also includes the act of actively finding qualified candidates; however, this article is not concerned with that aspect of the staffing process). On the candidate side, sourcing is the process that happens after a potential applicant enters the employment portal but before they hit the “apply now” button. On the recruiter side, sourcing is the process used to go fishing in a database of candidates who have expressed interest in a job or corporation. At the present time, the industry standard for sourcing involves a crude process in which visitors indicate the type of job they are looking for and use a basic keyword search to try and zero in on jobs of potential interest. Many job boards offer candidates the opportunity to provide a resume or build a profile, but this information is seldom used as a core part of the actual matching process. From the employer side, the matching sourcing does not look much different. Most sourcing requires recruiters to use keywords or phrases and general occupational “buckets” in order to try to find qualified candidates. The status quo for sourcing has proven to be highly inaccurate when it comes to routing people to the jobs for which they are most qualified and often results in “noise”. The status quo is a problem because:

  • It creates extra work for parties on both sides. Why make candidates spend their time sifting through jobs that don’t even come close to matching their skills, experience, or interest? Why should recruiters have to waste their time sifting through piles of unqualified resumes? Why should your organization have to pay to screen out candidates who should have been filtered out at an earlier stage in the hiring process? The legacy of inefficient sourcing is an increased burden on the entire downstream hiring process.
  • It facilitates resume spam. When a search provides a candidate with a job posting, it seems likely that the candidate will often feel they are somehow qualified for the job. After all, the job board told them they are a good match for it. Providing applicants with job postings for which they are not qualified leads them to take pot shots at these jobs ó we all know what the end result of this is.
  • It does not help pre-load the funnel with qualified applicants. The whole objective of the staffing process it to fill the funnel with qualified applicants. Unqualified applicants only make this process more time consuming and expensive. The more efficiency you can provide in the very earliest phases of the hiring process, the easier it is to build an applicant pool that contains only qualified applicants. Statistically speaking, this provides you with a much greater chance of making a good hiring decision.
  • It is not closely related to key drivers of job performance. Keyword searching and vague drop-downs provide very little ability to actually predict job performance. The whole hiring process is based on the prediction of future job performance, so why begin with tools that do a poor job of accomplishing this mission? The more predictive your sourcing tools are and the sooner you use them, the more efficient your entire process will become.

So, the status quo among job boards presents a need for the refinement of the sourcing paradigm. While there are a variety of possible ways to accomplish this, very few job boards have actually made any steps towards doing so. We feel that reaping the rewards of moving beyond the status quo is going to require some forward thinking. In the process of writing our “Buyers Guide to Web-Based Screening and Staffing Assessment Systems” (visit www.rocket-hire.com for more details), we came across three companies that we feel provide this kind of forward thinking by providing upfront tools that help route applicants to jobs for which they are actually qualified. While each of these companies has a slightly different take on how to do this, they all provide tools that can help add increased efficiency to your online hiring process. Redmatch Redmatch primarily targets newspapers; however, they can power any job board or career portal. Although Redmatch offers a variety of services surrounding their proprietary matching technology, their core system offers the following three services:

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  1. Reciprocal matching. The candidate enters her detailed profile and preferences and the employer enters their job definition. Redmatch’s proprietary matching technology computes the strength of the match between candidate profiles and employer job requirements, and only if there is a match between these definitions do the employer and candidates see each other and communicate. A further qualifying step occurs when a matched candidate applies for a job. At that point, the system performs a “gap analysis” between the candidate’s reported skills and the job requirements. The candidate is presented with questions about her missing skills to make sure that the skills were not omitted by mistake. The candidate’s profile is updated accordingly, and the matching level is adjusted.
  2. Instant matching. When the candidate enters her profile and preferences, she immediately sees the matched jobs for which she is qualified. Applicants do not have to apply for positions and then wait for employers to contact them. As soon as the employer enters the job definition, they see matched candidates and may immediately start communicating with them.
  3. Communication. Most systems require candidates and employers to use external means of communication such as fax and e-mail. Redmatch has an internal communication system that retains all communications and makes communication between the parties easier, more efficient, and confidential.

Redmatch also provides interviewing and candidate management tools that work around their core offerings. The end result is the creation of a modular, self-contained system that uses innovative tools to add a great deal of efficiency to the sourcing process. CareerXact CareerXact’s system is based on the idea that applicants prefer to search for jobs based on fit, not keywords. They offer a unique system that requires each applicant to complete a 20-minute personality assessment as part of the registration/profile-building process. Organizations posting jobs to CareerXact define their jobs using the same dimensions found in the personality inventory. This can be done in one of two ways: either by having a recruiter choose the dimensions they feel are important, or by having high (or low) performers filling similar jobs within the organization take the personality inventory in order to create a benchmark to which applicant’s profiles will be compared. In either case, sourcing is based on the match between the applicant’s profile and the profile of the traits needed for success at a given job posted on the CareerXact website. Besides their unique matching process, CareerXact offers several other innovative features, including:

  1. Free personality profiles. One of the biggest problems with the present state of the online job search process is that it is a one-way street. Applicants provide potential employers with a large amount of information and often receive nothing in return for their efforts. While many job boards and employment portals have been doing a good job adding lots of additional content, this content is static and one dimensional. The CareerXact system provides each person who registers with a free personality profile that helps them to better understand their fit requirements.
  2. Flexibility in matching. The system works such that an applicant who applies to one company, but is not a good fit, is automatically re-routed to other companies or jobs for which they display a better fit. This helps to ensure that applicants are able to apply for jobs for which they seem to have the best fit.
  3. Metrics. Applicant MetriX is a feature that allows for real-time applicant quality measurement and control. The system provides information about how well a company’s investment in branding is working and can provide ROI data at the job posting level. Users are able to see whether the posting is attracting not just the quantity, but also the exact quality of applicants they seek. The system allows them to learn exactly what job text wording attracts the best applicants in what region, at what time of the day. This data can be used to refine job postings and develop data-based posting strategies.

aHAa!, by Behavioral Description Technologies BDT’s product, aHAa!, differs a bit from the two previous systems in that it actually works immediately after a candidate chooses to respond to a specific job posting rather then during the search process. However, because it is designed to be used by job boards and employment portals, functions at the job posting level, and is designed to reduce applicant spam, we feel it deserves mention. Simply put, BDT is a product that automatically generates screening questions straight from the text of a job postings with no assistance from recruiters or hiring managers. How does it work? Job boards and/or BDT personnel using the BDT software configure aHAa! to work with their job postings. aHAa! uses proprietary technology to analyze job postings and then generates screening questions that are directly related to the requirements of the job in question. Once aHAa! is configured for use in a specific organization, recruiters and hiring managers continue to create job postings just as they have always done. The difference is that each time an applicant chooses to apply to a posting, they are directed to a series of job-related screening questions that are generated automatically by the aHAa! product. As applicants complete the screening questions, aHAa! delivers the a summarized list of candidates ranked by their fit to the advertised position requirements. Employers can review the top scoring candidates first, investing time in those candidates and thereby increasing the likelihood those candidates will feel appreciated and attended to. Employers can opt to have just the reports of top scoring respondents emailed directly to them, with embedded action links so they can take immediate action to either reject respondents or to take next steps. Conclusion Please remember that we are not compensated by or affiliated with any of the organizations whose products we have discussed in this article. We have chosen to discuss them because we feel they represent fresh ideas that can be used to help job boards and other employment portals take their services to the next level by increasing the efficiency of the sourcing process. We feel it is also important that readers understand that the purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the capabilities of these products rather than to critically review them. So, while each of these products offers some advantages, they may not be appropriate for every company or situation.

Dr. Charles Handler and Dr. Steve Hunt (shunt@unicru.com) are both specialists in the development and deployment of online/electronic staffing systems. Charles and Steve have conducted extensive reviews of online staffing tools and systems and use their knowledge of this space to assist clients with deploying online staffing solutions. In 2002, Charles and Steve combined forces as Rocket-Hire and together they have written extensively on the topic of online screening and assessment.

A major part of this collaboration has been the creation of The Rocket-Hire Buyer's Guide to Web-Based Screening and Staffing Assessment Systems. This publication is the first of its kind, representing the only one stop source for information regarding the online screening and assessments systems that are currently available. The Buyer's Guide provides a classification system that includes information on over 50 online staffing assessment vendors as well as background information to help readers to understand the complex topic of online screening and assessment.

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