Making recruitment smarter through better relationships

Recruiting the right people can be more hit and miss than science. Beamery would like to change that.
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

For harassed HR managers, trying to find the right people can still seem more art than science.

Beamery is one company trying to change that by offering what it calls "candidate relationship software", which aims to help candidates be successful not just with one job but with others as their career progresses. Companies using Beamery include Facebook, VMWare, Balfour Beatty, Continental, Dennis, and Shop Direct. In June, Beamery raised $28m in it's Series B funding round.

ZDNet talked to Beamery co-founder and CEO Abakar Saidov to find out more.

ZDNet: This seems to be a busy office, how many people do you have working for you?

Saidov: We have gone from 14 to 100 in 18 months and we will be doubling in the next 12 months. It's going to be interesting and we've opened new locations -- one in San Francisco and one in Austin -- but this is our main engineering environment, so most of the people here are software developers.

You're a British company?

We are and intentionally so. We wanted to really build a British company, a British, enterprise software company. And this coincided with the fact that we were in the talent space.

We cared about how talent recruitment is done globally but also we wanted to invest in the talent business that is here, in the UK. Every VC would tell us that you can't build a software company out of London, there's no engineers, there's no product people, there's no designers. We said, you can create them, we're going to make those people.

SEE: Special report: IT jobs in 2020: A leader's guide (free PDF)

We could do the grassroots business of hiring junior people and training them and hiring senior people and transplanting them from the US to teach them.

That's been the really big focus for us: how do you build the place you go to if you want to be a software developer in London and you don't want to work for Google or Facebook or someone like that.

And because of that we've kicked off a graduate programme that will take a 100 people and will lasts two years. We've started on that and are actively recruiting for the summer of 2019.

You think you a see a gap in the market?

Both my brother and I started our careers at Goldman Sachs. And you kind of wake up in the morning and get ideas and in 2008 lots of people didn't have jobs and there was an oversupply of talent -- corporates would complain that hiring was too hard. Now extrapolate that to a three, four, five year timeline and you see that there are hundreds of random companies and most of them are still using on-premise software -- it's not even SaaS. All of them were out-dated -- 10 to 12-year-old products.

We thought, is that it? Is that the best thing that we can do in talent, recruitment, personnel, people technology? So we started digging. We started going to corporates and the progressive ones were using Workday or switching to Workday from using Oracle.

And they would be saying, 'this is hard, it sucks, it's not working'. We would go to them and say, 'why does it suck? What's not working?'

And they would say, 'We've kind of figured out what's wrong. When a résumé hits our desk, we wonder what to do. We can't process it. We don't have the right understanding, but we try to do what we need to do and find the right people. But we don't have the right candidates, the right processes because most people don't go looking for jobs, they just get found'.

So, we asked 'how are you finding people?' They would say, 'We have these branding teams, we have sales and development, we have marketing, we have executive search, referrals and so on'.

The big issue is that this problem is not an SME problem, it's an enterprise problem.

So, we decided to build this system -- I won't call it a Salesforce.com for talent but it's a little like that. And since we have built it, it has gone incredibly well

So, this is happening at a time when companies are crying out for people?

Yes, and we see that we can develop a new way of doing things.

Take cars, for example. If you buy an Audi, BMW doesn't stop talking to you because they know you will buy another car in three years. When someone takes a job, why do companies stop talking to them? It was so incredible to learn these sorts of details.

When you talk to candidates, they will assume that you will have all sorts of data about them on file somewhere but, of course, you don't.

For us, the biggest thing we started out to do was build middleware fast. We started with an App Store equivalent. Because whatever you have in Workday, Oracle, SAP or any other tools you may have, they need to come together in one place.

With people, you need to know all the jobs that they have applied for and then build algorithms really quickly. One of the things we learnt very quickly is that talent data is rather precious.

SEE: Interview tips: How to land your next tech job (free PDF)

We built up that data so that we knew about job applicants -- what jobs they did, what jobs they had applied for and from that we could build up the picture of the candidates and what jobs they were interested in, and so on.

So, the threshold for the quality of data is much, much higher. Being the one tool that is used for communication has a very, very powerful impact.

How do you sell this idea to companies?

Conceptually people got it but it wasn't something that they felt they needed to have: 'Sounds nice but I've got other problems I need to solve'.

What we tried to do was take a leaf out of the category equivalents, like HubSpot or Marketo, and what they did was through a ton of grassroots enablement. Just teaching people what this space is and how to be good at it.

So, if you're a large technology company one of the problems might be, 'I need to hit these diversity targets'. So how do you plan to hit those diversity targets? And the answer might be, 'we're trying to build a diversity pipeline'. So the question is, 'how big is the pipeline going to be? What are your leading indicators? Ultimately, do you have a tool that can help you do that?'

It's got nothing to do with this dream that you can be a better organisation. It needs to be the knowledge that one of these things is your primary focus right now and it's recruitment. How are you going to do that?

Whether it's technology or financial services or whatever, they are trying to find the right talent. It's experienced talent.

What we do is when we go to market we talk about the core issues that exist. So often I'll have conversations like this. I'll go to CIOs and I'll say, 'Your annual report says you're focused on digital transformation and the addition of talent. How are you doing digital transformation and talent?' Often I'll get a vacant look and they'll say, 'we don't know'.

So we'll say, 'maybe you should know, so let's have a conversation'. The CEOs are trying to drive through initiatives but they also need to know how their organisation is going to gather the talent to do it.

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