As I sat through the webinar/demo of Monster’s new search product, 6sense, I kept waiting for a little kid to say “I see dead people”. That tag line, from the 1999 movie The Sixth Sense is the 44th most remembered quote from the movies (as recounted on AFI’s 100 Years .. 100 Movie Quotes). Alas, instead of an academy award performance (or joke) I got an hour’s worth of product pitch and screen shots. No Bruce Willis and no popcorn.
“Without being too tutorial, Trovix uses web efficiencies to generate something like the “structured lexicons” that powered some of the earliest Resume databases and Applicant Tracking Systems. This approach allows the query writer to see results that a keyword query simply can not find. In a very real sense, by structuring the relationships and semantics, this approach reads resumes rather than indexing key words. In the old days, these structured lexicons had to be developed by people and were really expensive. No one ever doubted that they represented a better path, they were simply too expensive to execute.”
Then, as now, the promise of the product is impressive. During the demo, the presenters navigated our attention through a series of sample searches and showed that real improvement is possible. 6sense takes a Google-like approach to data and tries to get at what the search means.
For instance, “Columbia School of Business”, “Columbia Business School”, “School of Business at Columbia” and “Columbia Biz School” all mean the same thing if they are in a credentials section and associated with the term “MBA”, “Master’s in Business”, “Masters in Business”, “M.B.A.” or a few others. If you want to pick up all of the resumes in a database using just Boolean logic, you have to specify all of the possibilities. 6sense, according to the presenters, solves just that kind of problem.
According to the presenters, “Boolean logic requires so much precision that great candidates are often missed.” Essentially, 6sense is Monster’s direct response to the rapid growth of the sourcer industry rooted in access to Google and the shift to professionals who specialize in candidate discovery. The idea is that a semantic search platform makes precision less important in the query and move available in the result.
Even at its simplest, a tool that can help a searcher overlook increasingly common spelling mistakes and small mischaracterizations would allow better access to useful candidates. If you could get more useful candidates and less useless ones using a new search tool, the quality improvement would be astonishing. And, that’s just the beginning. The presenters inferred that the new search interface could make inferences about the relative meaning of things.
It’s a part of an ongoing overall restoration of job board identity. Slow to react at first, the job boards are realizing that their revenue is drifting towards the professionals in the sourcing industry. Tagged with allegations of shoddy quality and ‘fire hose’ problems with volume, the job boards have endured rumors of their impending death for years now. Whether or not the job boards are becoming obsolete, they have done little or nothing to effectively refute the claims of their competitors and critics. That, in itself, is the largest single symptom of rigor mortis.
Recently, Glen Cathey, the Boolean Blackbelt, reported an interesting feat in Boolean Search Conquers Impossible Google Position. Candidates for a Google job req that had been open for four months were discovered using Boolean Search on … the Monster Resume Database. According to Cathey,
Interestingly enough, the candidates this recruiter was able to find were not new candidates who just posted their resume – their resumes were over 3 months old, which tells me that they had been in Monster’s resume database ever since Google released their network performance testing positions. I specifically point this out because I love to continuously disprove the commonly held belief that if many recruiters have access to the same resume database that they will be able to find the same candidates, the best candidates, and all of the appropriately qualified candidates.
This is also a good example of how, contrary to popular belief, you actually CAN find extremely good candidates (Google is notoriously elitist, which I respect) on the job boards. I continue to see well-respected recruiting and staffing thought leaders comment on how the job boards have mostly “mediocre” and declining levels of talent.
It would be extremely interesting to see a sort of “Sourcing Olympics” Imagine Shally, Maureen Sharib, reps from job boards and proponents of new technologies all facing off in performance contests. It would be nice to try to quantify the various claims for quality, speed and precision in a real performance environment. Imagine a panel of recruiters who describe the requirements and then watch the sourcers hunt down their prey.
That sort of real performance information (and wildly entertaining opportunities for moments of humiliation and embarrassment) is always missing form the closed loop demo environment. Trying to develop a real sense of what works and what doesn’t isn’t really possible in a fixed demo.
The Monster folks promised to get me some time on the system to try it out for myself. I’m anxious to do that and will let you know what I discover.
Meanwhile, I can tell you that the inferred benefits of the product are powerful. If the tool performs as promised, it’s a significant differentiator. But, the proof is in the pudding.
The best news from the demo? Monster managed to gather real influencers from the online recruiting world for an hour’s demo. Their outreach is beginning to bear fruit. As it was in the first job board era, it looks like Monster might be setting the tempo for round two.