These two tech start-ups have partnered to change recruitment as we know...

    These two tech start-ups have partnered to change recruitment as we know it today

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    Carolyne Burns

    Xref and Expr3ss! recently announced a partnership through which both companies will be able to offer applicant selection insights as well as reference checking via one integrated, cloud-based system – allowing clients to identify ideal candidates, take them seamlessly through the referencing process and ultimately make better hiring decisions, more quickly.

    While Expr3ss! sits at the very beginning of the hiring sequence – using a proprietary attitudinal test to analyse candidates’ engagement and suitability for the role – Xref comes in at the other end of the process, helping clients close off the hiring cycle and get their dream hire in the door as quickly as possible, by arming them with quality data, to help them make educated hiring decisions without risk of fraudulent activity or breaches of discrimination.

    Individually, Expr3ss! and Xref are disruptors in the HR industry. Together, they have changed the recruitment process for candidates and employers in Australia and around the world.

    The founders of both Expr3ss! and Xref are still intimately involved in each of the businesses and the philosophies of our individual organisations fit extremely well together. Expr3ss! turns traditional recruitment methods on their head, while Xref revolutionises the way references are requested from candidates and collected from their referees.

    Both founders recognised archaic problems in recruiting – it is time-consuming, expensive and fraught with risk. Both companies have provided more secure, automated solutions at each end of the hiring process. These improvements increase productivity for their customers and employers – they provide better results, in less time, with fewer resources.

    What exactly does this partnership mean?

    “This integration introduces a commercial partnership between two fast-growing human resources technology companies to provide a seamless end-to-end experience, consistent with both our growth strategies,” Expr3ss! founder Carolyne Burns told Anthill.

    “The collaboration between Expr3ss! and Xref offers customers access to a fully integrated predictive hiring technology and candidate referencing process, with tools to both pinpoint the right candidates and streamline the referencing process to save time and money, and protect against fraud.

    “The integration ensures that Expr3ss! customers no longer need to leave reference checking to the end of the recruitment process, after a shortlist has been made. Xref makes it possible to easily obtain reliable references on more candidates faster and to use the information provided in the shortlisting and staff selection process.

    “By automating the candidate referencing process within the existing cloud-based Expr3ss! platform, Xref is also protecting our customers against fraud and breaches in privacy.

    “No more telephone tag or chasing down referees. The seamless and native integration of Xref within Expr3ss! means our customers never need to logout or leave the Expr3ss! software to benefit from seeing the referee feedback.

    “Now our customers look forward to sourcing candidate references, as part of their selection and recruitment process. Something that is typically seen as flawed, time-consuming and unreliable is made efficient, secure and insightful with Xref.”

    Carolyne’s background is in merchant banking (Morgan Grenfell PLC, Baron Partners Ltd) specialising in corporate mergers and acquisitions and trust management. She was the inaugural corporate Company Secretary of Hostworks, a tier one, mission-critical internet host listed on the ASX and subsequently acquired by Macquarie Broadcasting.

    She shared with Anthill much more about her company in the detailed interview below.

    What inspired you to start Expr3ss!?

    I attended a corporate workshop of ASX listed Adelaide Brighton Cement, which included senior management and their life partners, and I was exposed to a survey that outlined everyone’s behaviours and attitudes in differing scenarios. Importantly, it showed how they would all function in everyday circumstances versus how they would behave during times of pressure and stress. The survey demonstrated at a glance, how the people in the room would interact with each other in each scenario and also highlighted any flash and friction points.  They all agreed, management and their partners, with the outcomes of the survey.  The fact that the “home team” and the “work team” agreed, was extremely illuminating.

    I thought, “Wow, how powerful is this!  I can know all about a person, and immediately ascertain how they will interact and function with others, even when under pressure and stress.”

    It then occurred to me how helpful this tool could be for recruiters who, armed with this type of information, would gain a much greater understanding of candidates’ characteristics. They would be in a much better position to put forward people that had the attributes that would fit the role their client was looking to fill.

    How did you take it from idea to a real business?

    Along with Dr Glyn Brokensha, during the growth phase of Hostworks, I pioneered the use of the survey in software and created algorithms to quickly and efficiently analyse the staff of the rapidly-growing company that had acquired customers of the calibre of Microsoft Nine MSN and Ticketek.

    With a successful pilot run conducted, I then took the software to recruiters who, at that stage, showed me the door. I realised then that recruitment companies need “stock” and weren’t interested in anything that puts doubt in the “stock” they have available to them.

    So, in 1998 I decided to launch my own business to bring staff selection insights directly to recruiting organisations and disrupt the traditional recruitment model. Using this new recruitment method with listed entities such as JP Morgan, Unisys and Talent2 led to the development of a fully-integrated, cloud-based system and Expr3ss! was born in 2005.

    What problem are you looking to solve?

    We solve staff selection for businesses. We remove the guesswork out of who to focus on. Businesses not taking staff turnover seriously haven’t worked out that they are haemorrhaging money. The Expr3ss! software and unique method stops this.

    A recent Google study of 10,000 hires also showed zero benefit from reading CVs and conducting interviews.

    We eliminate the need to pour over hundreds of CVs and arrange inappropriate, time-consuming, in-person interviews. Expr3ss! is the only product that automates selection, that is actually the hard part. 78% of CVs are misleading (exaggerated job titles), 53% contain falsifications (education, employment dates, criminal records, professional credentials) and 40% of job applicants lie (fake experience or “ghost” companies) on their CVs.  Unintelligent CV parsing and CV searching does not highlight key pertinent negatives or inappropriate results either.

    Yet people still hire on skills … and fire on attitudes.

    Because of the increased talent battle we all face, it’s more important than ever for organisations to no longer rely solely on experience and qualifications (i.e. CVs) to assess job applicants.  Instead, the Expr3ss! software helps them benchmark what success already looks like in their organisation and hire against those measurements to both filter candidates and quickly pinpoint a shortlist.

    We use the psychology behind staff selection with predictive hiring technology to pinpoint the applicants with the “can do” skills, “will do” attitudes and “fit to” team and company culture. Our predictive technology speeds time-to-hire, removes the recruitment grunt work, saves time wasted reading inappropriate CVs, removes the guesswork around who to shortlist and interview, and significantly cuts staff turnover.

    SeaLink, an ASX listed organisation with national operations, this month reported that we have helped the Murray Princess Part of SeaLink SA to cut staff turnover from 82% down to 20%, with significant lift in staff morale as a result.

    What exactly does Expr3ss! do?

    In a nutshell, Expr3ss! acts like a funnel that captures all you need to know about a candidate for a job. Then it uses unique algorithms early in the application process – rather than at the end – to help pinpoint those candidates that are likely to be successful in a role, based on benchmark employees who are already performing well in the same position.

    Expr3ss! is web-based [SaaS], accessible 24X7, wherever an internet connection is available, on any device and sits on a company’s website acting as the Careers page.

    Candidates are directed from all sources – wherever a job ad is visible to the public; website, QR Code poster, counter cards, free job boards, or paid job boards – onto a company branded Expr3ss! careers page integrated within their website. This enables the company to build its own talent pool without the need for costly job board advertising.

    In under 10 minutes, the software captures the details of candidates applying for jobs via the website, through pertinent job screening questions and/or video questions, and a completed unique Expr3ss! Checklist® survey.

    Employers benefit from a free Cultural Survey on sign-up to Expr3ss!, allowing them to capture insights on their culture, teams and people.  Expert benchmarks are then created from the Cultural Survey on their successful people.

    Employers use either the benchmarks created from their successful people and hire against these benchmarks or choose from over 40 other integrated role benchmarks.  Automatically applicants are given a “Star Rating”.  The “stars” pinpoint and highlight the candidates that the recruiter needs to focus on quickly for shortlisting.  The “five and four star” applicants are those most likely to have the “will do” attitudes and “fit to” role characteristics that they require.

    Who are your competitors?

    Our biggest competitors are all those people who believe they can read a CV and know a person and how they will behave in a job. It is ironic that we are in competition with those who need a new method of pinpointing quality applicants the most.

    The message from studies about unreliability of CVs hasn’t registered with the majority of people doing recruitment.

    Traditional recruitment methods create a dilemma. They focus on gaining insights about an applicant at the end of the application process once a shortlist has been decided upon.

    Other rudimentary systems like Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) or Candidate Management Systems (CMS) can be mistaken for what we do. They automate the CV collection, which only amplifies the problem and forces recruiters to read more CVs.

    Some ATS/CMS use unintelligent CV parsing and CV searching in an endeavor to help select staff. These searches are unreliable as they are conducted upon a fundamentally flawed document. And they certainly do not highlight key pertinent negatives or inappropriate results. After all, who puts pertinent negatives into a CV?

    I know of no other service like Expr3ss!, that captures all the information a business needs to know about a candidate, which is relevant to the business and its own roles up front – let alone capturing it in under 10 minutes of the candidate’s time – then puts the power in the hands of the business to pinpoint candidates that have similar traits as their successful existing employees, within minutes.

    How is Expr3ss! doing so far?

    We are privately owned and currently celebrating 10 years of helping businesses cut the cost in their recruitment.

    Expr3ss! is used by large and small national and international companies across a very broad cross-section of sectors from hospitality, retail and supermarket chains, to banks and finance, aged and healthcare services, real estate, and trades, with employee numbers ranging from 22,000 to just 30.

    Our customer portfolio now includes Spend-less Shoes, Beyond Bank, Beaumont Tiles, Nick Scali, Harris Farm Markets, Authentics Australia, Beacon Lighting, Southern Cross Care, Ray White Group, Drakes Supermarkets, Jeld-Wen and Krispy Kreme – all typically achieving a fourfold return on investment through improved staff retention and productivity, streamlined processes and cutting direct advertising costs.

    We have saved Australian businesses well over $1.1 billion in cuts to staff turnover and direct recruitment costs (which includes job board advertising) in the last year alone.

    We have been delighted by the broadening of our client base to push revenues nudging $5.5 million, including more ASX listed entities as well as 2nd-tier banks, Top 500 companies, SMEs and iconic family businesses.

    We have been growing year-on-year by 80% and we’ve been profitable since year one. Expr3ss! was also a Telstra Australian Business Award Finalist in 2015.

    We’re a small group of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in the mission to alter the course of recruitment history!

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