Monday, March 07, 2011 What the future looks like

The concept of a website that matches applicant skills to specific recruitments is...shall we say...not new.

What is new is a website that gets applicants to take actual assessments (of things like mathematical reasoning) so recruiters have a much better chance of finding the person that has the skills they need.

And it working.

This is the genius that is Gild, a website launched late last year devoted to "serious technologists" and currently being used for recruiting by companies like Oracle, eBay, and As of December they had over 100,000 users.

How do they do it? With a dash of good 'ol fashioned reinforcement, in the form of competitions for actual prizes that the target audience might like (like an iPad). The focus is on IT jobs, but one can easily envision this being expanded for other occupations (e.g., demonstrate your knowledge of multiple regression and win a free one-year subscription to SIOP!).

There are two main ways Gild gets users to take assessments: through certifications and competitions. Certifications are short multiple-choice tests designed to measure proficiency in things like ASP.NET, SharePoint, and Unix (and some more general competencies like English proficiency). They're easy to take and (at least if my middling knowledge of IT is any indication) difficult to fake. They've even incorporated reinforcement into adding members (invite friends for a chance to win an iPad!).

Competitions are where things get really interesting. They're also short m-c tests, and here are some examples of competitions under way as of this writing:

- PHP Elite (prize: Kindle)
- Java Elite (prize: iPad)
- Mathematical Reasoning (prize: AppleTV)

It's the social competition that seems to be the key. The group interaction extends even to their excellent support forum. For example I see that someone suggested practice exams or sample questions, and the site was quick to praise the idea and promise to investigate.

This website demonstrates that it is possible to get internet applicants to complete real assessments as part of an online profile--when properly motivated. Yes, I know, unproctored testing is subject to faking, blah, blah, blah. I just don't buy that argument anymore. Use confirmatory testing; end of story.

One thing I noticed, which may not be that surprising: the leaderboard is currently dominated by folks (okay, almost all men) from India. I mean...wiping the floor with the other countries. Now they have offices in India (and China, and the U.S.), so maybe it's better known there. Or maybe their focus on technology is showing dividends.

Another that the site is supposed to be exclusively for direct employers, not third-party recruiters. No trolling here. Once you create an account, you have the ability to post jobs (or "job cards"), create competitions, and manage your company profile. Interestingly, the posting process allows you to specifically select three skills--and their level--to target. Like a mini-mini job analysis. It will even forecast the supply and demand dynamically based on your requirements. A one-month "silver" posting is free but is smaller than the $50USD-"gold" posting that also includes 100 invites and better placement. Still, very affordable (I mean, Dice is $500).

Behind all this is the Professional Aptitude Council (PAC), a company that creates certifications and technologies to deliver them. The website states that their mission is in large part to ensure that talented individuals get opportunities based on their merit.

Gild is a great example of how to use technology to engage applicants, create more legitimate profiles, and offer employers a more accurate method to match individuals to specific recruitments.

Hat tip. You can read a little more about the company's history and purpose here.

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