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Wednesday, June 8, 2016, 22:59

Smart headhunters make up the scores

By Deng Yanzi

Editor’s note: Tech startups have spread to the human resources sector, banking on machines to help enterprises sort out long and complicated resumes of job applicants smartly and efficiently. Data show that investments in HR (human resources) tech startups hit $2.4 billion globally last year and are set to rise.

Smart headhunters make up the scores
Data-driven innovations have remolded the face of businesses, and have come to change the way companies hire.

Former headhunter Richard Hanson understands the monotony and, more importantly, the inefficiency in having to manually go through thick volumes of resumes from job applicants. He believes machines can do the work faster, smartly and more efficiently.

He aims to accelerate the process with his Hong Kong-based startup Jobable, which he co-founded with Luke Byrne in 2014. Backed by a machine learning algorithm, the technology automatically quantifies all relevant data points in resumes into relevance scores.

Immediately based on the scores, the most relevant positions will be recommended to job seekers, and the right candidates will be pushed to the recruiters.

Hanson says the algorithm saves time for employers, especially in handling jobs that tend to draw a large number of applications, as well as for industries with a high turnover rate and having to go through the hiring process repeatedly.

Previously known as Hiring Screen in stealth mode, the company conducted “a scientific experiment” in matching resumes and job descriptions.

It had a team of data scientists working on it over 18 months on scoring algorithm, and spoke to recruitment professionals in the industry to prove that the company’s scoring system works, Hanson told China Daily.

Currently 14-strong, Jobable has a team of seven data scientists headed by a PhD data expert who worked for Deloitte.

Last September, the firm raised $800,000 in seed funding from European and Asian angel investors who showed great interest in “HR tech” startups. They saw potential in innovation in the traditional industry.

According to CB Insights — a New York-based investment database — investment in HR tech startups around the world hit a record last year with $2.4 billion raised although funding and deals dipped in the second half of 2015. But, the sector bounced back in the first quarter of 2016.

HR tech startups, which range from recruitment, payroll to insurance, had a lucrative software market exceeding $10 billion in 2014, which is expected to grow to $17.49 billion by 2019, according to India-based market researcher MarketsandMarkets.

Jobable, which now focuses on the Hong Kong market, has drawn 35,000 registered job seekers since its launch in early March this year, with nearly all of them from Hong Kong.

Jobable also sees tremendous opportunities in overseas markets, especially Southeast Asia.

With an expanding middle class in countries like the Philippines and Indonesia, Hanson expects an increase in demand for services that “help people get better jobs” as businesses make money and expand.

Southeast Asia, with a high growth rate in smartphone usage in the region, lacks good mobile-optimized career search platforms and this is where Jobable can tap into, he says.

“At Jobable, we think about developing first on mobile; desktop can easily come later. It’s so important that you have a smartphone friendly career platform for users to apply online and view the positions,” he explains.

However, he admits that entering the complicated new markets in Southeast Asia does require time and research.

“We know it’s (going to) be different in each of these countries in how it works,” he says.

“When we started out in Hong Kong, we spoke to over a hundred HR professionals and did a lot of interviews with job seekers, to try to understand the behavior of both sides. And, we’ll have to do that again when we go to the Philippines and Indonesia.”
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