Written by: Team PredictiveHire
Hiring automation: It’s Time To Use Your Words
This Recruiter Says How You Write and What You Write Can Tell an Employer a Great Deal About Your Fit.
Barbara Hyman believes the most important skill for people looking for a job in the post-COVID world will be the ability to write.
“People who think clearly, write clearly,’’ says the chief executive of the artificial intelligence-powered recruiting firm Sapia, which judges its candidates on the most basic of skills.
The firm, which has big-name backers including Myer family member Rupert Myer, former Aconex founder turned venture capitalist Leigh Jasper, fund manager Dion Hershan and former JB Were partner Sam Brougham, gives every job candidate a first interview by asking them five text-based behavioural questions on their phone that take around 20 minutes to answer.
Then the company’s predictive models assign a “suitability” score to each candidate using over 80 features extracted from their responses and the system specifically precludes the use of names, gender and age to determine the recommended shortlist, removing unconscious bias from the recruitment process.
The company’s technology has already been used by 400,000 candidates looking for roles in retail, healthcare, customer service, hospitality, contact centres and graduate and trainee roles across 34 countries.
Its clients include Qantas, Bunnings, the Iceland Group grocery chain in the UK and Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica.
But Hyman says her biggest target client in the post-COVID world is government.
She believes the economy can only be sustainably reactivated through large-scale job security and that requires redeploying existing skillsets to meet in-demand industries.
“This requires a sophisticated and scaleable solution to find jobs for those whose industries have been decimated by the pandemic and have no jobs to return to. Our solution can immediately activate these job seekers into the new economy, steering them to the jobs they will be good at, she says.
She claims if the government activated this sort of technology for a range of growth industries the economic and social impact would be unprecedented.
“In a healthy economy, the cost benefit in Australia alone is $1bn net benefit (cost) for every 100,000 workers that get back to work one month earlier through reduced welfare payments and increased consumer spending. That is significantly higher when accounting for government subsidies as a result of COVID,” she says.
“A big part of getting back to work is the confidence and the mindset. We are exploring different avenues to allow people to use our chat bot to find their true role in the new economy. This is the vision we are trying to sell to government – you have your own personalised career coach that helps you find the ideal role.”
Hyman said one of the company’s big-name backers Rupert Myer, the chair of the Australia Council for the Arts and an emeritus trustee of The National Gallery of Victoria, had given her “amazing introductions” into the government and university sectors.
“When I came into the business in February 2018 it was running out of money. I had to get a bunch of the existing investors to support me,’’ says Hyman, a former chief human resources officer at REA Group and a human resources and marketing director at Boston Consulting.
Her data science leader at Sapia is Sri Lankan-born Buddhi Jayatilleke, who has a diverse background in machine learning, software engineering and academic research.
The firm has raised $4m in the past 2 years, including bringing in Australian global recruitment and talent management firm Hudson as a strategic investor last year.
“That gave us credibility because the number two recruitment firm in the market believes in what we are doing,’’ Hyman says.
“Whether you like it or not, there is enormous amount we can learn about you in 200 words. Just the very fact we don’t use any secret or behavioural data, you have to build trust from the beginning with your candidate. The completion rates are 95 per cent, the engagement rates are 99 per cent. But the key point is when we give you back your feedback. It is effectively a public service we are performing with this feedback.”
One of the firm’s initial backers was Rampersand, the venture capital firm which has a focus on early growth stage tech businesses.
Rampersand co-founder Paul Naphtali says the firm invested in Sapia for its ability to put data at the centre of a company’s people strategy.
“It’s a massive challenge for a start-up to aggregate the data and build the algorithms that can identify an individual’s suitability to a role quickly and accurately. It was a bold and ambitious plan from the beginning, and Sapia is now well on its way to becoming that data-centric engine,’’ he says.
“The company started with working to turbocharge the recruitment process by quickly identifying the right talent for the right roles.
“It’s taken time to build the tech and the data sets, but it’s paying off as a number of Australia’s leading companies now have Sapia as a default part of the process.”
He says the firm is now entering a new phase “where it also powers internal people management as well as for job seekers, which is obviously very relevant in the current environment”.
Recently in London Sapia was awarded the TIARA Talent Tech Star which honours the businesses globally in the talent acquisition industry.