According to Stepstone’s Chief Evangelist Rudi Bauer, the majority of HR depts never reply to job applicants.

StepStone, the German online job recruitment platform that owns jobs.lu, is currently developing IT solutions based on artificial intelligence. The aim is to help companies and candidates better fulfil their needs.

For Rudi Bauer, Chief Evangelist and in charge of innovation and strategy within the group, these projects will include a lot of human intelligence too, in order to get the perfect fit.

Rudi Bauer, how did Stepstone come to this idea and project?

“Two and a half years ago, we started discussing about the future issues that might impact our decisions. And more particularly about our way of life, the environment we live in, our interactions with our family and relatives, the way we work…

In fact, we dedicate a large part of our time, of our day and of our life to work. We spend around 20% of our lifetime in our job. Work is therefore extremely important for people.

However, if you look at the way decisions are taken by companies on people’s careers, the result is so far extremely bad. Since years, surveys are showing that a really limited number of people are indeed engaged to their employers.

How do you explain this lack of engagement?

This situation is mainly due to the dramatic changes that impacted the labor market over the two last decades. In the meantime, Europe has faced an important demographic shift. Birth rates are shrinking in many countries, on one hand. And the rest of the baby-boom generation will retire by 2030, on the other hand.

52% of the candidates who click on an apply button, on our platforms, don’t even get an answer from companies. That is shocking!

Both will have an extreme impact on labor markets, which will lose a lot of manpower within the next decades. And it will be very difficult for countries to find the workforce they need. Germany for example is expected to have a manpower shortage of 7 million by 2030. In Austria, 250.000 talents will be missing.

How should companies prepare today, in order to tackle this gap?

They have to take care of their existing staff. Hence, finding the right people to fulfil their needs in human capital will be an important issue in the future.

We foresee a tough fight among companies for talents all over Europe. Therefore, it is crucial for organizations to get the best people on board, to keep them and not to let them go.

How do you help companies recruit and retain those employees?

At Stepstone the question is how to reach the perfect match. Our goal is not to find people, but to find the right skills for the right job. Therefore, our projects include artificial intelligence, in order to collect and provide data, and then to build databases, that will help us elaborate what is going on in people’s mind.

Can artificial intelligence really solve this issue alone?

It cannot. Hence, these projects will include a lot of human intelligence too, in order to get this perfect fit.

Indeed, the most important missing point in the whole recruiting process so far, is the lack of respect and communication by companies. 52% of the candidates who click on an apply button, on our platforms, don’t even get an answer from companies. That is shocking!

The most important missing point in the whole recruiting process so far, is the lack of respect and communication.

When you apply for a job, write a CV and an application letter, fill-up application forms and then press an apply button, it means that you are committed to that organization. And that you are willing to get-up every morning to go to the company, and to dedicate about 10 hours each day to that organization.

The answer to that candidate’s commitment is always a no commitment from the company. It is respectless! Hence, we think that real ongoing respect of people and communication transparency cannot be driven by human intelligence only… It needs to be supported by artificial intelligence.

Recruiting companies lack of respect and communication
(photo : Clem Onojeghuo, Unsplash)

How will you turn these human and artificial elements into concrete solutions?

As artificial intelligence cannot solve the whole problem, we are closely looking to the tools that will support our approach. If you consider the issue itself, the match between employers and talents needs is nothing else than a kind of filling a database.

Data from the job posted online by companies – such as job description, salary, skills, etc. – can be easily sliced into structured information. Likely, data from the candidates (address, experience, employers, wishes…) can also be easily structured. Technically it is therefore simple to compare these two groups of data and to find the perfect match.

Databases match bullshit with0a0339 bullshit.

So how can artificial intelligence help any further?

The problem is that companies are not authentic enough in their job posting. They put a lot of information that are maybe not true, not clear or relevant enough for the job they offer. Indeed, there is a bunch of information, that database cannot deal with, nor reflect, as they don’t know how irrelevant or relevant those can be.

On the candidates’ side, you also find CVs displaying information that are not relevant either. So, databases match bullshit with bullshit! And when you match both of those, you get another level of bullshit. It is all useless.

At Stepstone, we think that artificial intelligence can do a kind of peer group information: Concretely, the platform can bring useful pieces of information, that candidates could then add to their profiles and have better chances to get the job. That is how artificial intelligence can help.

But once again, if recruiters don’t respect their candidates, AI won’t help. Therefore, a common approach is needed between artificial and human intelligence to tackle this issue.

How will you proceed to develop these solutions?

It is a mixed approach. Through our acquisitions of several job-platforms all over the world, we gathered a lot of experiences and knowledges. We leveraged them, in order to develop a large pool of thoughts and ideas. We defined a common strategy out of these, that we then implemented within our group.

We have more than 1.300 developers worldwide, some in Poland, in Brussels, or in the UK

What is your implementation deadline?

There is no deadline to implement this service. If you develop it as a big project and launch it at once as a final product, you will remain behind the market.

It is an ongoing process indeed: We proceed by adding useful information and tools step by step into the platform. And twice a week (every Tuesday and Thursday), we launch new services and new versions of our platforms in all the countries at once. Our proceed is rather an understanding of the situation and a step by step development to come as close as possible to the solution”.

Launched in Oslo, Stepstone, which has been acquired by the digital publishing house Axel Springer in 2008, headquarters in Düsseldorf and employs 3.300 people in 50 countries.

Jobs.lu was launched in January 2007 as part of the Irish Saongroup. Both companies were purchased by Stepstone in November 2013.

Silicon Luxembourg, June 2020