Are There Technology Solutions for Improved Job Sorting and Placement in California?

Michael Bernick
California Labor Department Director from 1999-2004; Counsel with the international law firm of Duane Morris and a Milken Institute Fellow.

Increasingly in 2013, new companies are coming forward with technology solutions for improved job sorting and placement.

These technology solutions differ from the thousands of online job boards that have been started in recent years—and that continue to start-up. The new companies go beyond job listings.  They seek to use technology to assist employers in sorting among applicants and also assist job seekers in better determining job fits.

Screen shot 2013-06-11 at 7.38.57 AMIn part, it is the very growth of the internet job boards that is giving rise to these new technology companies. The internet boards have led to employers being overwhelmed by hundreds of resumes for each position. The new technology solutions promise technology as a means of enabling employers to go beyond resumes, or specific word use in resumes, to better find the best job fit.

HireArt is one of these new companies. It has received a good deal of attention the past two weeks, due to the media connections of its officers, and a very aggressive public relations push. HireArt is headed by Mr. Nick Sedlet, 28, formerly of Goldman Sachs, and Ms. Eleonora Sharef, 27, formerly of McKinsey.

In the HireArt model, firms come to HireArt with a job listing, and HireArt draws on its technology to design internet-based written and video tests. HireArt draws on technology to offer what it holds out as a better way of linking employers and employees.

The California workforce community should welcome HireArt and the others in this field, including our California-based internet job placement start-ups, such as LearnUp and Internbound. All of these firms are developing with private not public funds. They are taking risks and investing time and energy, without any assurance of success.

At the time, the jury is still out on these technology solutions, both their viability on the market and contribution to either employers or employees. Though there are roughly 450,000 instances of hires per month in California in 2013, the job placement field is a crowded one, with greater and greater cost competition. Most of the job boards will not survive, and the majority of the job sorting start-ups will also go under.

For the job seeker, HireArt claims a populist mantle, saying it enables job seekers without the right degrees or education to show their skills and get in the door. But it also may be that HireArt functions as one more layer of selection, one more hoop that job seekers jump through, without results. Time will tell.

Michael Kelly, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy and Jobs, is deeply involved in advancing job creation policies and job training efforts not only in Los Angeles, but also throughout the state, as a new member of our California Workforce Investment Board. He is closely following HireArt and the other proposed technology solutions for better job sorting.Screen shot 2013-06-11 at 7.39.34 AM

Of these technology solutions, he notes, “California’s entrepreneurial class continues to harness the power of technology to produce new markets, good jobs and economic growth. If we are to sustain this momentum we need to create a pipeline of skilled workers that support this positive trend. One of the best solutions happens to be the use of technology to better match motivated business leaders and entrepreneurs with motivated job seekers.”

Kelly is part of a loose group of California workforce professionals and entrepreneurs thinking about technology’s promise in the job sorting and career planning areas.  He’s also involved in low tech,  efforts of career planning, including advising mid-career professionals and mentoring students at USC on job futures.

Kelly’s low tech, one-to-one mentoring is one effective form of career planning that technology solutions will never replace.

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