Looking to work in tech? This company has an innovative take on recruitment

Tech recruitment
When it comes to tech recruitment, the old CV and cover letter process is outdated and ineffective. Source: Brooke Cagle/Unsplash

When it comes to tech recruitment, the age-old model of submitting a CV and cover letter may not be the best way to enlist and retain top talent.

The global information technology industry (IT) is projected to reach US$5 trillion in 2019, according to research consultancy IDC. Innovations such as Cloud, edge and 5G are expected to drive a 4 percent growth this year alone, with upside potential reaching 6.4 percent.

Such rapid growth is exciting, but the recruitment process has failed to keep up with the fast-paced and competitive industry. From developers to engineers, to cloud architects and beyond, IT roles require specialised expertise and the ability to adapt to highly-skilled teams. But how can you adequately showcase such traits when recruiters take an average of just 60 seconds to decide whether a candidate is viable on paper?

“Many people don’t know that the current recruitment model originated with da Vinci,” says Aidan Cramer, co-founder and CEO of JobLab.

“He wrote a letter to Ludovico Sforza, later the Duke of Milan, describing how great he was at building weapons of ‘wonderful efficiency’,” he adds. “But that was in the 15th century and things have changed quite a lot since then (weapon-building is no longer a desirable skill, for example).

“Now, CV and cover letter writing has become an art in itself, and privileged kids are more likely to be taught how to do it well. But it lacks substance. At best, the current model leads to identikit cover letters and CVs that tell you little about the candidate’s personality or attitude. At worst, they put the less privileged at a huge disadvantage.”

Tech recruitment

Time to rethink the tech recruitment process? Source: Shutterstock

Reshaping tech recruitment

Once a fresh graduate to the industry himself, Cramer understands the challenges of the modern day job hunt. He landed a job in advertising soon after completing his studies, but after deciding it wasn’t for him, Cramer was back to square one. Forced to search for other jobs, he found the process confusing and painfully slow.

“My communication with recruiters was impersonal and sporadic,” he explains. “The jobs that interested me didn’t seem to exist. Graduates seemed to have become commodified and were taking jobs they didn’t really want as a result.”

After discovering that his friends’ experience was the same, Cramer concluded that the traditional recruitment industry was broken, and both employers and candidates were losing out as a result. This inspired him to build his very own graduate marketplace; a space that put candidates first, placing them in front of innovative businesses and helping them find interesting work.

Introducing JobLab

Alongside his best friend, Cramer started to build JobLab – a recruitment platform that connects tech start-ups with active students and graduates, described as the quickest way to find a graduate job at any tech company.

“More specifically,” he says, “JobLab is a tech platform turning recruitment on its head by putting the candidate first, doing away with the tired CV and cover letter model.”

According to Cramer, young people are increasingly turning their backs on the corporate world for a number of reasons, “some of which are generational – Millennials and Gen Z value independence and freedom, for example – and some of which are cultural,” he explains.

But recent tech developments have opened up the marketplace, giving them a lot more choice than they may have had in the past.

“I think the financial crash of 07/08 and the scandals we’re seeing at so many established companies has also made the corporate life seem less stable, and less appealing, than it used to be. I’d also add that joining a start-up is one of the best ways to learn new skills and make an impact right after graduating, and that in itself has enormous attractiveness to ambitious young people.”

And that’s where JobLab comes in, connecting talented graduates with established and emerging tech companies that are brimming with potential. It provides a space where candidates can ‘pitch’ their skills, interests and experiences, urging them to showcase their enthusiasm and personality.

“People express themselves in different ways,” adds Cramer. “The traditional model has you create a CV and cover letter and send them out blindly. You don’t know if it’s been received, you don’t know if it’s been read, and it really fails to capture personality.”

JobLab encourages candidates to speak openly and honestly with employers and vice versa, incentivising them to make themselves discoverable, engage with employers and respond to messages promptly. As a result, the platform’s job response rates are five times better than those if LinkedIn – JobLab’s biggest rival – and its time-to-offer is just 16 days.

“In the start-up world, time is always of the essence, so there’s a practical side to this,” says Cramer. “But we also believe that regular communciation is the quickest way to build trust, and this benefits both parties and leads to productive working relationships.”

Tech recruitment

Communication is key in quality tech recruitment. Source: Tinh Khuong/Unsplash

But there’s something else that separates JobLab from recruitment competition – it’s on-platform currency, JobLab tokens, used to incentivise candidates and spur them on their search for employment. The currency can be exchanged for Bitcoin, Ethereum or cold, hard cash.

“We literally pay graduates to job-hunt,” says Cramer.

Online platforms face a constant battle to win and retain the attention of their audience, and after signing up for job posting alerts and subscribing to endless recruitment websites, job seekers are constantly flooded with emails making it easy to lose heart.

“We wanted to signal to our candidates that we took their time seriously, that the opportunities we were giving them were genuine, and that we respected their data,” adds Cramer. “We grew up watching some of the bigger companies take liberties with people’s personal information, so JobLab tokens are in part a way of showing respect.

“But incentivising candidates to job hunt makes the entire process much more efficient. Start-ups always need people ‘yesterday’ (and candidates don’t want to wait months for a job).”

In an industry as fluid and explosive as technology, it’s easy to see how the traditional job application and recruitment model is outdated and irrelevant. Tech undoubtedly defines the 21st century, and the industry’s hiring process is in desperate need of an overhaul if the world’s most innovative companies are to attract and retain the most skilled workers.

“Clearly, the traditional recruitment industry isn’t working. In the UK, we have high employment and low productivity, and that suggests a lack of engagement and satisfaction with work, which has its roots, at least in part, with the way people are finding jobs,” concludes Cramer.

“Of course I’d like to see JobLab grow, move into new industries, and disrupt recruitment in other countries (and that’s the plan). And I’m certain that greater and greater numbers of people will come to realise that, using technology, we can build a more efficient, more ethical and altogether more valuable system for finding jobs. We fully intend to lead the charge.”

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