New startup leverages on tech tools to enable HR industry in Asia
Already has a presence in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines
JUMPING into the Asian talent waters is a Singapore-based startup that believes its transparent and simplified approach to recruitment might just be the secret for success.
OpenRecruiters bills itself as a human resource technology firm that seeks to significantly improve the talent acquisition process between recruiters and employers in the region, saving both time and money while reducing wrong matches by a significant margin.
In an interview with Digital News Asia (DNA), cofounder Brandon Lee shares that the motivation behind founding OpenRecruiters came while he was working as a specialist recruiter at a boutique recruitment firm.
“I noticed that resources were scarce and there was a number of inefficiencies in the recruitment industry. For instance, HR (human resource) staff often have to review multiple contracts and use multiple recruiters. The same information gets repeated unnecessarily.
“Another thing was that there was no way for employers to monitor and track the performance of their recruiters. There is no industry standard in Singapore measuring recruiter competency on metrics such as time to fill position, hiring rates and the time to interview,” he adds.
Enter OpenRecruiters, officially launched to market on March 28 of this year, with Lee as chief executive officer.
A graduate from Nanyang Polytechnic with a diploma in Electronics, computer and communications engineering, Lee considers himself a serial entrepreneur, having started three businesses prior to OpenRecruiters.
He started his first business when he was 21 years old, offering digital video archiving services with more than 20 collection points around the country, and has spent four years in the field of recruitment.
His cofounder and chief technology officer Nicholas Chan also shares a passion for entrepreneurship. Chan cofounded five tech startups, one consultancy firm and one military simulation wargaming firm; and boasts 18 years of business experience across South-East Asia.
Chan is also an early stage investor, having invested in 27 tech startups with six successful exits and was recently awarded Young IT Professional by the Singapore Computer Society.
OpenRecruiters is also powered by key management team members who believe in the vision, says Lee.
“Our team has over 40 years of recruitment industry experience combined. It's very rare for startups [to have] with such a strong management team with the related industry expertise,” he claims.
Earlier this year, the team closed S$110,000 (US$87,000) in funding from Singapore’s Media Development Authority’s iJAM scheme, Singapore-based incubator Crystal Horse Investments, and private investors. Strategia Ventures, led by Ben Chew, is also an investor in OpenRecruiters.
Letting the system to do work
The company says it isn't its style to leverage on fads either, believing that the fundamentals of the recruitment discipline remain the same no matter what. For example, Chan notes that social media-based recruiting hasn’t been truly proven, wryly adding that any potential candidate who has that much time to spend on social media might not be suitable for many positions.
“Instead, we want to help improve the recruitment industry as a whole, using technology as the enabler to allow practitioners to work harder and faster.
“In addition, the platform is merit-based not brand-based, with performance statistics of recruiters displayed. It allows prospective clients to make informed decisions when engaging recruiters,” he adds.
The OpenRecruiters’ value proposition to recruiters and employers is simple: Using technology tools, it seeks to give them 40% of their day back, letting the system take care of the routine aspects of the talent hunt.
The company’s platform offers employers the capability to consolidate all recruitment agencies and centralise all administration and communications under one unified platform.
“Till today, there is too much inefficiency in dealing with recruitment agencies – every recruiter offers different contract and terms, different rates and differing levels of expertise and hard-to-verify connections,” says Lee (pic).
Joining the platform is free, and OpenRecruiters takes a small percentage of the final recruitment fee whenever there's a successful placement.
It offers different membership levels to cater to the different needs of employers and recruitment agencies, along with a one-stop solution for recruitment-related services such as personality profiling and resume parsing.
According to Lee, OpenRecruiters differentiates itself from competitors by providing “unprecedented transparency” to employers and recruiters globally, along with a work process that takes into consideration the nuances and working styles of recruiters and employers in Asia Pacific.
He also claims that the company is the first to offer a recruitment platform with profiling tools for both candidates and companies, so as to better match them and to increase retention rates dramatically.
“We do not restrict any form of communication between the employer and recruiter in our platform, while at the same time ensure that steps to prevent information abuse are in place.
“We also introduced resume parsing technology, making it easy for recruiters to upload and manage their candidates’ data,” he adds.
Pulling an industry into the tech world
OpenRecruiters’ clients mainly comprise medium and large companies, as well as multinational corporations which need to hire staff across Asia and seek to engage good external recruiters.
“Some examples include Brinks, Concord Corporation, and Mercer, a large human resources consulting company. They believe in our product and our vision in levelling up the recruitment industry in Asia as a whole. Our clients are currently operating in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia,” Lee says.
Having started in Singapore, OpenRecruiters is now present in two more markets, Malaysia and the Philippines, with plans to expand to Hong Kong, Indonesia and Myanmar in the next 12 months.
“We hope to level up the recruitment industry in the region by working with the relevant authorities and business partners in each market,” says Lee.
The team is also developing a mobile app that will enhance the productivity of recruiters dramatically through real-time alerts of new business leads, and smart candidate tracking.
Lee admits many challenges remain in trying to bring a transparent and technology-driven approach to the way companies in Asia hire.
“Our sales people come back telling us that there's still a percentage of medium and big companies which have not used the services of recruitment agencies before, usually engineering firms, where they need to hire more than 100 any time there's a big project.
“We need to explain to them the importance and advantages of engaging a specialist recruiter who knows your industry and job function well,” he adds.
To keep the team on track and focused on achieving the ultimate vision, Lee shares that the company holds a regular debrief every Friday evening with all management team members.
“Afterwards, we also celebrate small wins like winning a new client over a beer,” he adds.
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