Elevated Careers

On April 4, 2016, in HRExaminer, John Sumser, by John Sumser

photo of board game in HRExaminer.com article by John Sumser April 4, 2016 on Elevated Careers

I thought it was a pretty historic moment. Finally, the actual eHarmony of Recruiting arrived.

I am drowning in things that look like they are a part of the next wave in HR. Generally, they are applications that are designed to express, assess, improve, modify or study various aspects of corporate culture. They almost always have an employee (or potential employee) interface that illuminates some aspect of ‘fit’. They are all the result of some level of statistical process enabled by access to employment data and other stuff from the web.

The range and depth is extraordinary Products as varied as organizational transformation tools and resume scanners are redefining themselves so that large scale statistical analysis is at the root of their business. Sometimes it’s Transformative. Sometimes it’s not much of a step forward.

I went to the Launch Event for Elevated Careers this week. (As is usually the case when I visit a company, they covered most of my expenses.) The event was very professionally executed. Most of the usual suspects were in attendance. While I missed the big party, I got to the most important part – the unveiling of the new tool.

Elevated Careers is the new work compatibility offering from the team that brought you eHarmony. Elevated Careers is housed in the eHarmony corporate infrastructure. That, by the way, is a tall office building in the Westwood section of LA. It’s a little past Beverly Hills.

For many years, new companies in the HR Tech industry have tried to position themselves as ‘the eHarmony of Recruiting’ (or learning or succession planning or whatever). There is no record of success for anyone who did that. The eHarmony standard (which includes being a place to meet your spouse with a lower likelihood of divorce) is a very high bar. eHarmony actually works, I’m led to believe.

I thought it was a pretty historic moment. Finally, the actual eHarmony of Recruiting arrived. I wanted to be sure to be there because it’s either the real beginning of a new era in HR or it’s the beginning of the end of the promise of Computational HR. No other entity of equal heft in branding, technology and financial resources has made a commitment to using its deep pockets to improve companies and work level relationships.

That’s not to say that there are not other really intelligent initiatives. Just that the combination of brand, technical focus and experience and financial wherewithal have not been directed in this way in some time. People don’t generally come to HR tech to invest deeply in transformative technology.

That just may be starting to change.

Here are the major elements of the Elevated Careers product:

  • A rich framework that comprehensively includes both corporate cultural attributes and individual human attributes
  • A database of culture assessments for the 2 million companies with more than 20 employees along those attributes
  • A licensed job feed from SimplyHired
  • A candidate questionnaire that takes about 15 minutes to complete (if you get lost in thought)
  • Feedback and fit assessment reports for both sides of the transaction.

It’s important to note (because they emphasized and reemphasized it) that they are not in the business of competing with GlassDoor. Their cultural assessments are rooted in deep text analysis and are not Yelp reviews. Rather, they are an assessment of culture based on a subset of the available data.

The current candidate use case involves filling out a profile and submitting a resume. With those two bits, the Elevated Careers product will make a set of skills, values and personality assessments.

That will result in a flow of jobs (depending on what’s available) that include a cultural fit assessment.  You give them your stuff and they say, here’s what’s available and how we think you’d match the culture. The match includes skills, personality and cultural elements.

The company can get a very similar analysis that would be great help in screening.

I pushed hard on the question of whether the company would give searchable access to their 2 Million assessments of corporate culture. The ‘no’ was swift and strong. That said, I can’t imagine that there are many companies who won’t be at least a little curious about how eHarmony sees their culture (and perhaps whether that information is used in algorithms in the rest of the company’s vertical markets).

The briefing itself was a four plus hour explanation and demo given by Steve Carter, eHarmony’s VP of Matching and one of the company’s earliest employees. He was patient, modest (even self deprecating) and very open. Analyst sessions are a form of high stakes poker where the focal point for the company has to be on their toes the entire time. He was great and very willing to say that this is a first step in a long journey.

From my perspective, there are many significant issues that merit exploration:

  • Robust statistical text analysis has some inherent flaws that could cause an increase in hiring biases.
  • eHarmony is citing sources that claim that companies work best when there is monoculture. This is kind of the opposite of a long standing HR belief in diversity of thought.
  • Much of the Elevated Careers roadmap depends on companies adopting the tool and discovering real world payoffs. That will take a lot of time an money to gather and validate.
  • It’s hard to actually tell if what Elevated Careers measures is what it says it measures.
  • Historically, employment services that require significant survey completion do not scale. eHarmony is unique in its ability to get people to fill out long surveys so they could beat the odds.

This is going to be true of all of the tools that rely on anything resembling survey data that is exposed to anything resembling statistical analysis.

After the day was done, I remained sure that it was a watershed moment. Be sure to watch for the impact of Elevated Careers on expectations and Brand behavior in the HRTechnology sector.

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