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ZipRecruiter Uses AI for Job Recruiting and Searching

Last year we told you about an emerging trend in perhaps one of the dirtiest industries on the planet. No, we’re not talking about charcoal maker, animal bone charrer or even space miner. We’re talking about the use of artificial intelligence in HR recruiting. At first, we thought it was too good to be true that a machine would replace a human recruiter, which we put on par with used car salesmen and realtors, as professions that add little value to the advancement of the human race. Then it seemed as if the field exploded overnight, with countless startups emerging that promised to disrupt the hiring industry through AI. We even profiled one such company, PredictiveHire out of Australia. Now ZipRecruiter, a startup that runs an online job marketplace using artificial intelligence, is one of the newest members of the Unicorn Club, startups valued at $1 billion or more.

What is ZipRecruiter?

Founded in 2010, ZipRecruiter is based in sunny Santa Monica, outside of Los Angeles. The company took in a massive $156 million Series B earlier this month, more than four years after a pretty impressive $63 million Series A. That brings total disclosed funding to $219 million, earning it a valuation of about $1.5 billion, according to Bloomberg. The company started as a tool to help small businesses distribute job postings affordably, and today has grown to serve more than one million employers and 120 million job seekers. ZipRecruiter has nearly 1,000 employees in the U.S., U.K. and Israel.  

Job seekers gain access to job posts around the internet.

Job seekers gain access to job posts around the internet. Credit: ZipRecruiter

The startup offers a couple of core services – posting jobs and searching for jobs – which are heavily tied to its mobile app. There’s the basic job posting service on its own platform, as well as across another 100-plus job boards, including companies from LinkedIn and Salary.com to Google and Facebook. However, it’s the company’s algorithms that potentially set it apart from other job search platforms like Monster.com and LinkedIn.

How Does ZipRecruiter Use AI?

ZipRecruiter’s AI-powered algorithm learns what each employer is looking for and provides a “personalized, curated set of highly relevant candidates” based on more than 60 factors. On the flip side of the equation, the company’s technology matches job seekers with jobs based on factors beyond job titles, potentially introducing them to jobs they may never even have considered before, like professional gamer or quant. The company claims that its algorithms are so good that 80 percent of employers who post a job online get a qualified candidate within the first 24 hours.

Decide who lives and who dies on ZipRecruiter's Candidate Calibration tool.

Decide who lives and who dies on ZipRecruiter’s Candidate Calibration tool. Credit: ZipRecruiter

ZipRecruiter recently launched a new feature for employers called Candidate Calibration, which apparently is not a thinly veiled dystopian term meaning to wipe applicants’ brains clean in order to enslave them at low wages, as we first assumed. Rather, the tool lets employers give feedback about what types of candidates they like – before candidates apply – so they get better matches for their job posts. It works by showing employers potential applicants who might be a good match. The employer rates them Tinder-like (though using a simple thumbs up or thumbs down rather than a swipe left or swipe right). Based on the feedback, ZipRecruiter makes recommendations using parameters such as the applicant’s skills, job titles, years of experience, location, resume length and application rate. It’s a bit like how Netflix or Amazon might make movie or product recommendations.

How Does ZipRecruiter Measure Up?

At the moment, ZipRecruiter appears to be the hottest thing on the recruitment scene. ZipRecruiter CEO and co-founder Ian Siegel told TechCrunch his company accounts for about 10 percent of activity in the U.S. recruitment market, with over 5.6 million jobs listed on its app as of early October. The company’s recent $1.5 billion valuation is more than triple of what Randstad, an international recruitment firm, paid ($429 million in cash) for Monster.com back in 2016. That was the same year that Microsoft coughed up $26.2 billion for LinkedIn, which as far as we know is where recruiters troll for candidates, calling it “headhunting” so that they can charge big bucks for little effort.

On the other hand, Microsoft did report that LinkedIn’s revenue rose 37 percent annually for the second quarter in a row and totaled $1.46 billion, so maybe that’s why all those headhunters are charging such a premium. More recently, another competitor, Glassdoor, was gobbled up for $1.2 billion after raising a similar amount of VC dollars as ZipRecruiter by a Tokyo-based HR and recruitment services company called, imaginatively enough, Recruit Inc.

Conclusions

ZipRecruiter is obviously producing results for somebody or they wouldn’t be attracting these big investment rounds and garnering a $1.5 billion valuation along the way, though no word on the company’s actual profitability. It’s been around for more than eight years now, so that’s encouraging. Still, it’s a very competitive market, with a pretty interesting history of acquisitions of major players in the last couple of years. We wouldn’t be surprised if a company like Google, which launched its own jobs search platform recently using its own AI technology, might be interested in removing acquiring a rival. Or Amazon might just swoop in and buy them because, well, it’s Amazon.

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