That friendly email in your inbox inviting you to interview for the highly-contested sales position you applied for may not have been written by a recruiter. Same for the text message to follow up if you forgot to respond.
It’s all part of a recruitment platform from Toronto startup Ideal.com, which uses algorithms, artificial intelligence, and IBM Watson in an attempt to relieve the recruiters’ burden from matching and contacting candidates.
Ideal is co-founders’ Shaun Ricci and Somen Mondal’s second startup. The first was Field ID, a safety compliance management firm. As the sales team grew, explains Ricci, they noticed inefficiencies with the way they were hiring.
“We looked at all the pieces of our business–the sales, the development, everything was very data-driven, very metrics-heavy, except when it came to recruiting,” says Ricci.
They often found themselves hiring people who would not last more than six months. “We ended up with a lot of people that we liked, personally, but who weren’t necessarily a fit for the role.”
Ideal was later born out of a need to solve the problem of wasted time while recruiting for sales staff – both by automating the mechanics of the recruitment process and by using surveys and cognitive technology to assist matching.
When Ideal sets up an automated sales recruitment system for a company, they build a benchmark of what works – the values that team holds, such as integrity or leadership – as well as detail the company’s perks, such as flexible working.
On the other side, sales professionals signing up for the platform are asked their priorities. “Some people want to work from home,” says Ricci. “Some people want free espresso. There are pretty different attitudes towards culture.”
The data is then processed and matched in an algorithm, and recruiters are given a list of top candidates on the Ideal platform to choose from. The software e-mails and texts the chosen candidates; if there is no response, the recruiter is notified.
Job descriptions and resumes are all broadly similar in structure, which means the content can be brought out, organized, and interpreted.
“A boring job description is pretty data rich,” says Ricci.
Watson can compare how close the resume is to the job description, more quickly and with far more granularity than a human.
“We can process a lot more efficiently. Our goal at the end of the day is to make better decisions when screening acquisitions, so the people who do talent acquisition can spend more time on high-value tasks, such as interviewing,” Ricci adds.
Ideal.com has raised $2.5 million in funding, from a combination of angel investors and self-funding from the sale of the founders’ first startup to Master Lock in 2012. Customers include Context Media and Top Hat.
As for the future, Ideal is looking at increasing their scope beyond sales to other professions, and opening direct use of their platform to their customers. As for more potential use of the Watson technology Ideal is considering is considering using the voice services on phone screening.
“What if we can have those phone reviews recorded, and you can send those voice recordings to Watson, and you get text of the conversation as well as analysis of the voice. Can you detect if a candidate is passionate?”