The last several years have seen astonishing advances in the digitization of processes previously thought too complicated to compute. Take dating: today, there are dozens of websites that connect partner-seeking individuals to each other based on personality and preference compatibility. These sites boast pretty impressive stats: one in five marriages today began with online dating. Personality is so incalculably diverse (no two people have the same personality, right?), yet there are mathematical algorithms that can, with surprising success, digitally match people to prosper romantically. This is really cool and apparently quite valuable.
Lots of folks in the recruiting and job search arena are pondering whether the hiring process could be digitized in a similar capacity. The concern perhaps lies in the idea that Dating is Consumer to Consumer (“C2C”) and recruiting is Business to Consumer (“B2C”). Connecting people to one another is different than connecting people to companies. However, we know statistically that people far more often leave managers, not companies. So is it really that different?
The concern is generally about the human element; technology is great, but these are people and the human interaction is essential. There is no arguing the validity of that statement, but as I have explored similar advances in other industries, I am hopeful that it can be achieved without dehumanizing the process. Technology is a supplement not a substitute, but it can be a game-changing supplement, and we may be on the cusp of a new evolution.
Examining other industries, we find digitization is having an incredibly profound impact. Take retail, where we have seen a tectonic shift. Years ago, price comparison required visiting multiple stores; the cost of doing so often negated the value of the exercise. Today, we can compare prices, shop online, and so much more all from the comfort of our living room couch. We can hear about a new book and within five minutes, find it on the web via various online retailers and two days later find it on our doorstep or two minutes later on our device.
In years past, travel agents were the primary resource available for booking flights. This usually happened by phone, and it could take quite a while for the agent to search every carrier to find the cheapest rate. Now we book our own flights online; rapidly, a multitude of travel sites can search all airlines and carriers to present us with every possible flight option. We can choose and purchase the flights that best fit our schedule and budget, then go on about our day. This all happens within minutes; a speed that even the fastest human could never approach.
Online shopping and travel bookings are one thing, but to say these processes could be easily compatible with job recruiting and searching is perhaps more of a stretch. I believe recruitment is much more complex, but I also believe technology and big data has opened whole new worlds of possibility.
If you had told me ten years ago you could understand my musical tastes and predict what music I would enjoy, I would have dismissed you completely. After all, my musical tastes are my own; they are unique to me and reside in my mind. I have always loved music and was one of those oddballs who went to record stores, met other music fans, and stood in line to go to intimate concerts. When I got introduced to new performers, I would track down their records to discover unknown bands who would occasionally go on to mainstream fame. This whole process took months and, while the effort and pay-off of truly great musical discovery is quite unparalleled, I will admit it wasn’t very efficient.
Today the world has been flattened and democratized. Pandora.com (and others like it) is a revolution in defining and catering to musical tastes. Pandora’s “Music Genome Project” set out to “capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level” using almost 400 attributes to describe songs and a complex algorithm to organize them. Through the service, one can be introduced to countless new musical performers digitally, all by simply defining some of our current favorites. The system then uses the digital fingerprint of the music to bring us into proximity of like sounding bands. How cool.
Perhaps, as human capital recruiters/job seekers, all we need is a “Career Genome Project” to deliver the same benefits for job search and recruiting. Each of us has an Individual Value Prop (IVP), a set of skills and characteristics that make us qualified and aligned. Many folks today consider themselves to be just like little companies, possessing a unique value to be partnered with corporations to create revenue and profit. In sticking with this concept, if each of us is a little company, then every company needs a web site. Every website needs Search Engine Optimization. With our own personal “companies,” this requires the digital meta-tagging of our Individual Value Props (IVP’s) in a unified database. Imagine this, a database of every employable individual, searchable by skills and unique attributes.
Lots of folks see this new future of job searching and recruiting, and are moving to spawn the shift towards digitally catalogued IVP’s. Like the “Music Genome Project,” the contribution of each individual compounds the value of the data and moves us closer to a world of job matching instead of job searching.
The reason so many people find love online these days is because the system exists and it works. The same will happen for recruiting and in the end it will likely be the recruiters themselves who drive us to this better paradigm. Much like how online dating matches compatible individuals, this “Career Genome Project” will match individuals to the companies, managers, and ultimately jobs that most fit their skills, personality, and Individual Value Props. That might just be a match made in heaven.
Sean Storin is the CEO/Co-founder of OneDegree.com, a site that aims to revolutionize the way people find jobs. He is based in Chicago. Sean has 20 years experience in start-up technology companies, business and management consulting, HCM- Staffing and IT Services. He is also a writer now and again.