This is an unusual article. Not necessarily in terms of the content but because of who it’s written by. If my predictions come true, the entire tech market selling into the recruitment space could be put out of business within 15 years and since my company makes a product for that market, essentially I’m predicting the demise of my own company. Not a nice thought, but I wouldn’t be doing my job properly unless I was constantly scanning not just for opportunities but for threats, and as a supplier to the recruitment technology market, I’m looking anxiously over my shoulder, and I can see big trouble coming…maybe.
The internet has done two big things for recruiters that previously they could never have hoped to do: firstly, they can connect with people directly in a way that was previously impossible, and secondly, they can identify people and their suitability for a role before it is even advertised and, as a result, it’s thrown up a new generation of companies who’ve made some big profits out of this. So why are these 2 points important? Because every year the internet is making it easier and easier for employer and candidate to interact without the need for a middleman in the form of expensive recruitment software or job boards. I see no reason why this trend won’t continue and as technology gets more sophisticated and cheaper, how long will it be before an employer and candidate can ‘meet’ without the need for any paid-for 3rd party application? It’s happening already, I’m just predicting it could be done globally, and for 95% of vacancies.
Think I’m exaggerating? To get a sense of just how this could work, it’s worth imagining what the perfect hiring model for a corporate would be, then realize that we’re not actually that far off it.
Perfect hiring model for a corporate:
Here’s how it could work. In a perfect recruiting world, every company would be linked to a central hiring platform which has 2 sides to it. One where all job vacancies are automatically fed and listed, and the other would contain the profiles of every working person on the planet or at least a large majority of them. A clever algorithm would then work out the most suitable candidates for the role and send it to them so they can express interest or not. Applicants would simply click an ‘interested’ button with their profile and then instantly be logged into this job. The applicant profile could contain details of a ‘selfie’ video so the employer can get a feel for how they come across, and results from psychometric tests they have already done or have just been set by that employer would be embedded into their profile.
So, at this point, you’re thinking that a system like this couldn’t possibly be built. Well, I beg to differ, and I actually think a number of the components are already in place, and it just needs someone to put them together. Think about what Apple did to the music industry when it created iTunes. Think about what Amazon has done to the high street, what Facebook has done for social interaction etc. Often this kind of über destructive technology is just 1 or 2 brilliant guys with the genius and perseverance to make it happen. So why couldn’t it happen in recruitment?
All you would need is 1 (admittedly very talented) developer who could build a system that could extract the jobs from every company’s careers site. A simple web crawling device can already extract jobs from any company’s web page so that’s not difficult to add in. Alternatively, an XML feed would work just as well.
Any company could join this global careers system and set the web crawling tool or feed to extract their jobs. Then all you would need is a straightforward way for an applicant to express an interest which would be easy if the positions and candidates were all operating on the same interface, which they would be. A basic ‘add note’ tool so the user can keep everyone updated with each candidate’s progress and an ‘add new user’ tool to give hiring managers access, and really that’s all they would need (sorry, ATS providers but 50% of your functionality most clients can’t fathom or just don’t bother with).
What could be added?
So what else could our brilliant developer add in? Well, there are lots of free tests on the web that could be added – the employer could embed them as part of the application process. That’s really all the developer would need to do.
Then you’d need every one of working age to create a profile. A bit like a LinkedIn profile but done via video and not text (a simple YouTube link would do it, so bang goes the video interviewing companies). Now the challenge would be getting everyone to create a professional profile however, as Linkedin and Facebook have shown, get the proposition right, and people will join in their hundreds of millions. If there were tens of millions of freshly added direct employer jobs appearing each month, it won’t take long before a severe volume of professionals, both active and passive job seekers, start sniffing around it.
That’s all there is to it. A system where all direct employer jobs are listed automatically with billions (literally) of professional profiles waiting to be matched up with those vacancies.
Is this far-fetched?
So, is this really so far-fetched?
On the candidate side, LinkedIn and Facebook already have hundreds of millions of people signed up in under ten years. How many will they have in another 15? If they can do it, why couldn’t someone else? Mark Zuckerberg took 10 years to get nearly 1 billion people onto his platform. What if there was another brilliant 20-year-old developer out there right now building the professional network equivalent to Facebook and rival to LinkedIn?
Think of a system like a hybrid of Indeed and LinkedIn, and you could see how powerful it could be.
Now imagine it was also absolutely free for employers to use. It would put out of business an entire industry of companies selling into the recruitment marketplace. ATS vendors: who would need one? A basic page where applicants could log their interest via a profile link would suffice. Ah yes but what about creating that lovely talent pool that ATS vendors go on about?
All those unsuccessful applicants can be logged into your talent pool to enable you to make free hires in the future
Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard the banter from every sharp suited 25-year-old sales executive from every identical ATS provider, however, if every candidate has created a profile and every employer can find it easily, you don’t need your own talent pool. You’ve got a massive one right at your fingertips with a couple of billion people in it.
Who else would bite the bullet?
So who else would bite the bullet? Well, sorry to say (as I quite like them), job boards would also go the way of the Dodo. Again, who would need them? Job boards only exist because the job market currently operates without a perfect flow of information. Job boards provide a central reference point to correct this information black hole. A job seeker cannot possibly know all the suitable job seekers that are available and vice versa unless, of course, both parties are working on the same platform. When they do, why would an employer need a job board? Jobs could be sent to every relevant candidate within seconds of the web crawler indexing an employer’s job.
Video interviewing suppliers? You might possibly survive, but a simple ‘selfie’ YouTube video would suffice for most, and how long would it be before another clever developer came along and added the sort of software that companies currently pay for from you? After all it would be an open source application so other developers could build for it. If you can build it, then so can our brilliant developer, the only difference is that it would be free, and that wouldn’t be great news for your profit figures. Oh, and whilst we’re at it: staffing agencies. You’d all be a goner too.
So there you have it. A multi-billion dollar industry wiped out.
Ok, so it might not happen, but it could and worryingly, it could happen far more quickly and easily than most might think. I hope it doesn’t, but part of me is constantly wondering if a brilliant computer science undergraduate is on the verge of flunking out of MIT because “I’ve got this crazy idea to change how the world recruits“.
Author: Nick Leigh-Morgan is the managing director and founder of iKrut. He has more than 17 years experience in the recruiting industry, covering staffing firms, direct employers, and now web-based recruitment software.