Paul Kinney on ‘revolutionising recruitment and talent management’

  • Paul Kinney, Co-Founder of new talent management platform, PeopleHawk spoke with Sync NI to discuss using technology and science to fast track recruitment. 

    PeopleHawk matches technology candidates with employers using proprietary algorithms that have been validated by scientific studies in the US, under the watchful eye of its Toronto based Lead Scientist Professor Colin Cooper, formerly of Queen’s University Belfast.

    The inspiration for the platform began almost a decade ago when Paul was frequently spending hours crafting CVs for his team at PwC, where he was Partner. Paul’s team were being actively considered by investment banks in New York and Tokyo, where Paul had been based for several years. He thought to himself, there must be a better way to go about this, a way that could showcase people’s potential in a digital format, rather than on paper.

    Paul recalls: “So the pain, the frustration and complete inefficiency of that experience made me realise there was an opening for a “people platform” to directly connect talent with employers using digital profiles, instead of outdated, randomly formatted, unsearchable paper based CVs. By doing so, candidates could showcase their personality and potential in real time, delivering everything an employer needs to make a hiring decision, up front. Hence the concept of PeopleHawk began. Only problem was I was far too busy back then to take time out to develop the solution. Until now, that is.”

    Helping employers

    The former Fortune 100 businessman added, from a recruitment perspective the aspiration was to counter the over reliance on outdated CVs with something that was more digital, more comprehensive and more interactive. He couldn't understand why no one had ever done it in a way that dramatically reduced what is known in recruitment as “Time to Hire” i.e. the time taken to identify ideal candidates, post application

    As Paul says: “Employers want to have skills profiles that are fully searchable so they can filter and sort candidates to make rapid hiring decisions. More importantly, they want to reduce the need for the iterative and time consuming assessments they are forced to put candidates through post application. But, left solely with a traditional CV, that says precious little about candidate personality and potential employers have no choice. The Time to Hire statistics for major employers are frightening, with companies in the technology sector taking 6-7 weeks or more to identify ideal candidates. By which stage the ideal candidates have gone elsewhere or have withdrawn themselves.”

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    That’s why PeopleHawk decided to incorporate candidate selection science in to their digital profiles. To do this, they developed their own scientifically backed personality quiz and cognitive assessments, that produce workplace focused reports on the candidate’s behavioural traits, workstyles and cognitive abilities. By having all that information up front, hiring decisions are better informed and faster.

    But PeopleHawk didn’t stop there. They also built their own video interview functionality enabling a first round interview to be recorded by the candidate and shared with the employer on day 1 of the process. As PeopleHawk like to put it, with their platform candidates only ever have to do one first interview!

    Another unique feature developed by PeopleHawk is their automated candidate ranking tool, which makes it easy for employers to rank candidates using “ideal candidate” settings that can be configured in-platform by Hiring Managers.

    Paul goes on to explain: “If, as a Hiring Manager I've got 150 CVs in front of me how did I know where to start, and what choice do I have but to manually sift through the documents trying to spot the one or two that catch my eye. Not very scientific or efficient, and potentially laden with bias. So, not only is it wasting valuable time and resources, it also exposes the business to unnecessary risks.”

    That’s where PeopleHawk’s candidate ranking tool comes in to play. Within literally a few minutes Hiring Managers can establish ideal candidate settings and rank the 150 applicants using the platform’s proprietary algorithms. Which means Hiring Managers can immediately focus their time on those candidates that are most likely to succeed, before they take up a position elsewhere. As Paul says, in the war for talent, timing isn’t just important, it’s everything!

    Helping candidates

    Paul continues: “Candidate experience is critical to every company brand. And whilst a positive candidate experience bolsters brand, a poor one can be irreparable. So why then do technology companies continue to ask applicants to go through such mind numbing processes when applying for jobs? It’s clear that with 60 per cent of all online applications being abandoned something has to change.”

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    That’s why the whole candidate experience has been at the forefront of PeopleHawk. Because in reality it’s the candidate who owns digital profile. So, the candidate journey needs to be fast, engaging and intuitive. Extensive research was conducted by PeopleHawk to gather candidate feedback which in turn led to the gamification of its cognitive assessments and the automation of infographic resumes. Candidates even suggested having an in-platform folder to save career important documents, which PeopleHawk now also provide. Other features for candidates include the ability to self-configure profiles to suit different employers. And for those candidates who are in the digital space, PoepleHawk now provides space for links to work product and personal websites.

    But probably the most engaging thing of all for candidates is the ease in which they can catalogue their knowledge, skills, experience and qualifications. And that’s largely down to the fact that PeopleHawk comes pre-loaded with industry, discipline and skills drop downs that use the language employers use. So, candidates don’t have to think how to describe those. The hard work has been done. The other big advantage of this approach however, is that when a PeopleHawk profile hits an employer’s screen it immediately connects, which in turn means PeopleHawk candidates get prioritised.

    ‘Recruitment industry needs a tech revolution’

    Paul concludes; “I think the recruitment industry is one of the last business functions to be properly digitised. To date, the focus has been on piecemeal solutions, rather than tackling the core problem which is the over reliance on CVs, that say previous little about candidate personality and potential.”

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    “What we're aiming to do is to revolutionise recruitment in the same way the travel industry has been turned on its head. Think of it this way, imagine booking an apartment in Paris on Airbnb, without being able to search and find properties, see photos of the apartment, read reviews by people who previously stayed there or know how much it costs. So why then, do we still hire people using CVs?”

    One of PeopleHawk’s Advisory Board Members jokingly referred to PeopleHawk as a “LinkedIn on steroids”. That’s probably because he is an ex-LinkedIn Executive. But, as Paul explains: “LinkedIn wasn’t originally designed for recruitment, but for professional networking so the data is largely unstructured. In contrast, PeopleHawk was developed from the outset to manage careers and deliberately uses structured data so members can rapidly create comprehensive career profiles that can in turn be searched, sorted, filtered and matched by employers. In so doing, employers can slash recruitment costs, as well as that all important Time to Hire.”

    Find out more about PeopleHawk and how to sign up here.

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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