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During the pandemic, hiring has become increasingly focused on remote positions as companies eschew job fairs and other in-person recruitment initiatives in favor of alternatives. According to a LinkedIn survey, companies plan to adopt hiring processes that combine virtual and in-person steps due to the associated cost and time savings. But priorities in HR largely haven’t changed. Jobvite’s 2021 poll found that improving quality-of-hire, improving time-to-hire, increasing the retention rate, and growing the talent pipeline remain recruiters’ top recruiting priorities.

To help with their hiring efforts, seven out of 10 companies plan to boost spending on HR tech this year, according to a PwC survey. But the same survey put into question the effectiveness of these investments. More than 80% of respondents said their HR teams struggle with technology adoption challenges linked in part to planning phases that fail to get necessary stakeholders — including executives and management — to answer the right questions.

HR tech vendors assert their solutions can solve organizational challenges, however, if implemented with a clear plan. For example, Talent.com, a recruitment platform based in Montreal, claims to send more than 80 million job candidates to employers each month and provide 30 million jobs to those candidates. Founded in 2011 by Benjamin Philion, CEO Lucas Martinez, and Maxime Droux, Talent.com says that it leverages AI to improve job search relevancy for jobseekers while helping companies hire new team members.

AI for recruitment

Prior to launching Talent.com, formerly called Neuvoo, Philion was a risk analyst for the National Bank of Canada. Lucas Martinez was a business development manager at EF Education First, an education company specializing in language training, while Droux was an asset allocation analyst at investment firm GLG Partners.

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Like many recruitment platforms (e.g., Monster, Indeed), Talent.com offers a search page where jobseekers can track down opportunities and set up alerts for particular roles. Candidates can compare salaries by searching average salaries of job titles similar to their own and calculate take-home pay in hourly, monthly, and yearly increments, using a tax calculator that breaks down the tax deductions they can expect to see.

“Talent.com is using data from clicks by our users to predict the probability of a click given search terms, user profiles, and job titles … The dataset for training contains more than 800 million items,” Philion told VentureBeat via email. “[The] model gives up to a 40% increase in clicks in comparison with a search algorithm based on keywords only.”

On the enterprise side, companies can post open roles and filter candidates, observing the progress of job recruitment campaigns in a dashboard. The company uses programmatic advertising and a network of media outlets to attempt to fill roles quickly, buying programmatic ads on websites that meet a target profile to find candidates for businesses.

Programmatic ads automate the process of buying and selling ad spaces through an exchange that connects advertisers — in this case, Talent.com — to publishers. Using algorithms that analyze characteristics of publishers’ readers, considering factors like location and demographics, programmatic platforms set bidding prices for the first impression (i.e., the first view an ad receives). After the impression has been sold, it’s sent to the publisher’s website to be displayed.

“Open roles cost money to enterprises — our goal is to fill that void making these connections,” Philion told VentureBeat via email. “The labor shortage has been a massive issue for many businesses in the past few years, and it was exacerbated by the pandemic.”

Expanding market

Showing that the potential of poor HR tech adoption isn’t scaring away investors, Talent.com today announced that it raised $120 million in a series B round led by Inovia Capital with participation from Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Investissement Québec, Climb Ventures, BDC Capital, Fondaction, and HarbourVest Partners. The backing brings Talent.com’s total capital raised to $150 million, which includes $30 million in new debt financing from the Technology & Innovation Banking Group at BMO Financial Group.

As far as future growth is concerned, the trick will be convincing would-be customers that 400-employee Talent.com’s solution is superior to rival recruitment offerings. Among them is HireEZ, which provides AI-powered tools for job candidate recruitment and profiling. Sense is also developing AI-powered recruitment and hiring solutions for companies, as is Phenom People

A 2021 Sage survey found that 24% of companies are currently using AI for recruitment and that 56% plan to adopt AI in 2022. While the risks can be high — studies have found that the algorithms used in recruiting can introduce bias, including anti-Black bias, leading cities like New York City to regulate them — companies are eager to pursue technologies that might help them navigate a historically challenging labor market.

From January 2021 to October 2021, venture capitalists put $9.2 million toward HR tech startups, a 130% jump from 2020’s total, according to PitchBook data.

“Our objective is to capture a significant share of a huge market that is going online. We’re therefore more focused on growing our platform than being profitable at this stage of our evolution,” Philion said. “This will be even more true now that we raised a significant amount in equity. The business has existed for over 10 years and the founders succeeded in growing it to over $100 million in revenues … with very little funding.”

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