Technology is making all kinds of choices for us these days, like how Netflix and Pandora can use big data to tell us which movies and music we might like. Now, it’s changing the way job seekers and employers connect. Case in point: 21-year-old Isaiah Bien Aime*, a Boston College senior who’s on track to graduate this spring with a major economics.
He wants to get an MBA, but first he needs a job, so Bien Aime* signed on with AfterCollege.com. The free website sends college students and recent grads curated alerts with job and internship postings based on where and what they study.
It also allows employers to contact students directly. Bien Aime signed up a month ago and says he’s already had two interviews.
“I think they are capable of getting a sense of who I am as a person and tailoring my search to make sure that the jobs that they are posting are intriguing to me,” Bien Aime says.
The matchmaker at AfterCollege is a bunch of math; the website started in 1999 as a searchable job board and it’s kept track of who applied for what. Last year, the company fed all that data through an algorithm and started recommending jobs.
“You have basically a reduced likelihood that you’re going to end up in a job you don’t like, or that you’re going to become a worker that the employer doesn’t like,” says CEO Roberto Angulo.
AfterCollege is one of a growing number of companies that are developing high-tech tools for the job market. As the economy recovers millions of people still need jobs, and hiring methods are outdated, according to Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Relations at CareerBuilder.com. “You send in a piece of paper, whether it’s through a job board and it’s electronic or hard copy, and it’s, ‘here’s my life story, please recruiter read it.’” She compares the interview process to going on a few dates, then getting married. “What these products that are coming into the marketplace are really saying, is that there are so many more important parts to figuring if it’s a match.”
A new company called Knack makes video games employers can use to analyze job applicants’ personalities and talents. In one game dubbed “Wasabi Waiter” you play a server in a busy sushi bar who has to multitask to keep customers happy.
“From that they can infer all sorts of characteristics about you like your perseverance and your creativity, even your extroversion,” says Erik Brynjolfsson, a Knack adviser and Director of MIT’s Center for Digital Business. “Those are things that don’t show up on your resume or your college transcript.”
Brynjolfsson says using big data to connect more companies with the right talent could have trillions of dollars in economic value. “Doing matchmaking for people’s careers and for the efficiency of companies and ultimately for the whole economy, that’s big money, and that’s something that’s going to hopefully lead to more fulfilling careers for a lot of people.”
He compares the way technology is opening up how companies work to what the microscope did for the study of biology. In the future, the future he believes more hiring decisions will be based on hard data, instead of software and gut reactions.