Berlin-based recruiting chatbot startup Jobpal has closed an initial round of funding of € 2.5 million (~ $ 2.7M) from InReach Ventures and Acadian Ventures.
The company, which was founded in 2016, has created a cross-platform chatbot to automate candidate support and increase recruitment efficiency by applying machine learning and natural language processing for what it calls “talent engagement.”
The target customers are large companies with Jobpal offering the product as a managed service.
For these employers, the tone is greater efficiency by being able to respond quickly and engage potential job applicants each time they request more information through an always-on channel (i.e. the chatbot) that is prepared to answer common questions.
Candidates can also apply for vacancies through the Jobpal chatbot by answering a series of questions in the familiar message format. Jobpal says its chatbot can also be used to evaluate applicants’ CVs and recommend the most promising candidates.
It takes care of the logistical work of scheduling interview appointments, leaving HR departments with more time to spend on more meaningful parts of the recruiting process.
Co-founder and CEO Luc Dudler tells TechCrunch that he has more than 30 enterprise clients at this stage, generating “thousands of conversations” per day. The customers he names checks include the likes of Airbus, Deutsche Telekom and McDonald’s.
The software works on popular messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and SMS, and is available in more than 15 languages, although Jobpal confirms that the German market remains the largest so far.
“The high volume of interest and the number of questions that companies receive from potential talent is often difficult to deal with, resulting in a suboptimal experience and frustrated candidates. Conversational interfaces and natural language processing allow us to deliver a candidate-centric experience and increase the efficiency of the recruiting function, “says Dudler, arguing that the recruiting landscape has become” candidate first, “which is incumbent. companies to get the right “candidate experience”.
“This technology allows employers to interact with candidates whenever they want and on the platforms they use, like WhatsApp. This puts candidates in control, meaning they can get answers in seconds, rather than days or weeks. For internal HR teams. HH., They can spend more time searching for the best talent, as Jobpal automates tedious and time-consuming tasks, allowing recruiting teams to focus on more value-added tasks. “
“We focus primarily on communication and engagement, and our clients only recruit internally. We do not work with agencies, “he adds.
Jobpal points to a greater commitment to using its chatbot, stating that companies are seeing more inquiries from job applicants than they used to receive emails, and arguing that the “low friction” approach is accessible and convenient and leads to higher conversion rates.
With any automated process, there could be a risk of skewed and inequitable results, depending on the criteria the chatbot is using to select candidates. Although Jobpal says it is not using algorithms to make recruiting decisions, the highest risk of bias appears to be in the hands of the employers who set the criteria.
Misinterpreting candidate inquiries based on the technology not understanding what is being asked could lead to answers that disproportionately harm certain applicants. Although Jobpal says that queries that are too complex are directed to a human to deal with.
“We get a lot of inquiries about the application / deadline / evaluation process, required qualifications, supporting documents, working hours, growth options, and the salary Jobpal is designed for,” says Dudler, from users. Jobpal candidates. “Our chatbots don’t answer questions that are too personal, too obscure, or not related to recruitment, such as customer service inquiries.”
“Jobpal stores the query data, but is unlinked from the candidate data. This data is used to train AI models that support general communication and company-specific chatbots. We do not mine or sell candidate profiles, and we do not make decisions. algorithms in the recruitment process, “he adds.
The software integrates with a number of Human Capital Management business suites at this time, including SAP SuccessFactors, Workday, Oracle (formerly Taleo), Avature and Smartrecruiters.
The seed round follows what Dudler sees as “a huge surge in demand,” with the team spying an opportunity for further growth.
“We will invest in product development and triple our workforce in the next 12 months. Specifically, we are looking to recruit a vice president of marketing,” he tells us.
Chatbots still regard many consumers as robotic, and even irritating, but the technology has been flourishing in the customer service and recruiting space for several years. Business areas where there is no shortage of repetitive tasks for automation. And where being able to offer a certain level of service 24/7 is a great advantage.
On the hiring front, the power imbalance between the employer and the job seeker could even make the interaction with a bot more attractive to a candidate than the pressure to talk to a real human already working at the target employer.
For certain types of jobs, employee turnover can also be incredibly high, making hiring essentially a never-ending task. Once again, chatbots are a natural fit in such a scenario; Being scalable, they take the stress out of repeated and formulated conversations, promising a smooth line of candidate conversions.
Given all this, there is now no shortage of recruiting chatbots touting automated support for human resources departments. At the same time there is unlikely to be a single approach to the hiring problem. It is a multi-faceted and multi-dimensional challenge due to the spectrum of work that exists and the jobs that need to be filled, and indeed the human variety of job seekers.
That’s why there are so many different ‘flavors’ and ‘styles’ of chatbots offering help, some with algorithmic matching and / or targeting different types of employers and / or jobs / industry (or indeed job seekers; passive vs active), others just super basic tools (such as the Jobo robot that alerts job seekers about the vacancy matching criteria they have specified).
Some more sophisticated chatbot examples include MeetFrank (passive job matching); Mya (for recruitment agencies and massive companies, even to fill shifts); Vahan (low-skilled, blue-collar job to high-wear delivery jobs); and AllyO (conversational AI for “end-to-end human resource management”).
While some recruiting chatbots that are closer to what Jobpal is offering include the likes of Ideal, Brazen, and Xor, to name three.
With so much chatbot competition committing to “streamline recruiting” by applying automation to the hiring task, employers could be forgiven for thinking they have a new headache on their hands.
But for startups applying artificial intelligence technology to “fix recruiting” by making conversations cheap (and structured), the mosaic of players and approaches still in play suggests that there is a continued opportunity to seize a slice. of a really massive market.