21st May 2015

Contextual Recruitment - The Next Big Thing?

Mike Blackburn

I've just read a really interesting article in Legal Week (the content is behind a pay wall but you can get a free trial if you want). It discusses a new system launched by recruitment agency Rare, which helps a law firm distinguish between different candidates for trainee positions.

Rare seem to be using the system to encourage diversity in the workplace, but the techniques they seem to be using could also be used to help distinguish between candidates who on the face of it seem quite similar.

Our legal clients are often heard complaining about the amount of work it takes to go through the large numberof CVs they receive when it comes round to training contract application time. There often seems to be a crude filtering system initially based on simple criteria, for example, a client might only progress applications from a range of universities with a minimum expectation of a 2:1, with anything that falls outside that criteria being swiftly rejected.

This might result in a firm being left with a pile of candidates all expecting to get a 2:1 from a decent university with three A grades at A-level. To reduce down these CVs, the firm then needs to resort to interviews, which can be time consuming.

Wouldn't it be great if technology could be used to identify gems in a group of candidates that such an arbitrary process might miss, while reducing the number of people a firm needs to interview?

Step in Contextual Recruitment

Using this type of approach, the candidate would apply online where an algorithm would then be used to filter down the applicants based not only on the absolute scores in exams, but also taking into account the difficulty they might have faced getting the results they did. For example, an A grade in History at A-level from a high-performing private grammar school might be judged to be worth less than one earned by a pupil at a school where the average grades are much lower.

A person from a heavily disadvantaged background might also be allowed a little extra credit when compared to someone from a stable middle-class home.

The algorithm would be able to distinguish the candidates relative to each other, creating a short list of who should be the best fit for the role.

If done well, this could help businesses recognise talent in pools they would not normally look - which can only be a good thing.

This is the first system that we've heard of that filters candidates in this way - we've never built one, but we'd love to try. So if anyone out there thinks this is a good idea, please give us a call on 0161 402 3170, or drop us an email at info@i-com.net and we'd love to help.