- The workplace of today is about cultural fit and not just about skills and experience
- Looking to expand to the rest of South-East Asia, in fundraising process now
RECRUITMENT traditionally involves a lot of meetings and success is subject to whether a recruiter feels that a job-seeker is a right fit for the job, based on skills and even first impressions from a meeting.
Singapore-based employment platform Venn is seeking to change all that, by using algorithms to place job-seekers in jobs and companies that would suit them.
If you remember your Venn diagrams from high-school math, it is about sets and the relationships between them, with the sweet spot being when they overlap.
The idea for the platform came from problems in recruiting, and a certain intrigue with how algorithms on dating apps worked, according to Venn founder and chief executive officer Candice Aw.
“It was a confluence of different factors – the first was that I saw there were a lot of problems in recruiting,” she says, speaking to Digital News Asia (DNA) in Singapore recently.
“As a job-seeker I found it frustrating; and as an employer, I found it very difficult to get the right people.
“I have this weird habit of tying in things that are completely unrelated – I was playing around with dating apps … and I was quite intrigued with the way OkCupid’s algorithm works, so I tried it out,” she adds.
The idea of job-seekers and employers being matched in the same way couples are matched via dating apps kind of suits the reality of the economy, where the focus is on overall fit between job-seeker and employer, Aw argues.
“It is not just skills and experience, which is the old way of looking at things; it is about overall cultural fit, strengths, and interests,” she says.
“If I’m not passionate about the industry, I will not be doing as good a job,” she adds.
Looking for a job means browsing through various job descriptions that are often written with a wall of text. Needing to parse through jargon and acronyms makes it even more tedious.
Aw (pic above) argues that with “every other job site out there, you often don’t know what the job entails – there will be a long job description, but what it might mean is that you just need to know Excel or understand numbers.
“We [Venn] give the TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) of a job.
“It is interactive and very visual – we ask people what their interests and strengths are, and what kind of environment they like being in,” she adds.
This is also where being innovative with job descriptions can help. They need to be made fun and interesting.
“We posted a plain job description that got lost and only had five applicants who were terrible [fits],” says Aw.
“So we changed our approach and put a link asking, ‘Are you a good match for us?’ – and we had 120 applicants in two days.
“That proves that interaction and engagement increases the conversion rate,” she declares.
Venn also curates companies for job-seekers, giving them an insider’s peek into their operations.
When job-seekers are matched, they will be able to see a company profile, and photos and other visual representations of what the employer stands for – including some of the colleagues they might be working with.
“We tell them what the company is about, what people they are looking for, what problems they are trying to solve, what the vision is, and about the people who work there – and they can see what the culture is like,” says Aw.
“We’ve all been there – applied for a job and when you arrive, realise that it is not a good cultural fit.
“Here, job-seekers don’t have to wonder if the environment is suitable for them or not.
“We also want to provide a platform for companies to showcase themselves – I know Glassdoor does that, but there are so many companies on Glassdoor and there’s no matching mechanism,” she adds.
That curation is an important value proposition for Venn, which is why the company takes it seriously and goes on the ground to find out more.
“We actually visit their offices – I speak to recruiters, and if possible, to the management team, to make sure they are suitable” says Aw.
“We only bring on board companies that are Series A or above, but this is on a case-by-case basis – some are not Series A but have done very well,” she adds.
Just ‘venn’ it, people
Venn is currently in the first iteration of its job-matching algorithm. “Right now, we are in the first stages of making sure this works, keeping it simple to begin with, before we build on it,” says Aw.
The more data the startup gets, the more the algorithm can be refined.
“It boils down to information from and to both sides – the more information we can provide, the better decisions they can make,” she says.
And Aw’s ambition does not stop there: She aims to make ‘venn’ a term in much the same way ‘google’ has become one.
“We don’t want to be job-hunting but job discovery, where it is more about being curious and interested in finding things,” she says.
“We want people to think of ‘venn this’ as finding jobs in an easy manner,” she adds.
As for its actual plans, Venn is currently raising money and is looking for the right partners.
“We are in the midst of talking to angel investors and VCs (venture capitalists),” says Aw.
“But we’re also getting quite picky about who we will partner with – for us, it is a long-term partnership. We see them not just as capital providers but partners, and we want to pick investors who can help us in areas we are weak in,” she adds.
Venn is also looking to expand to the rest of South-East Asia.
“South-East Asia is still an embryonic space but it is moving very fast – the talent pool in the region is going to be immense,” says Aw.
“We will be expanding into places like Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam,” she adds, however declining to put a timeline on this expansion.
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