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Why Social Job Matching Will Replace Talent Assessment Tests

by Jun 5, 2014, 12:43 am ET

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 10.43.34 AMTalent assessment continues to grow as a legitimate business tool. Times have never been better for those who provide and use talent assessment solutions. Despite the seemingly infinite complexities that can come with the territory, companies of all shapes and sizes are realizing the business value of using assessments to support insight on quality of hire.

As good a tool as talent assessment is, it remains old fashioned and continues to have trouble getting out of its own way. The real disruptive force in quality of hire will take the form of “social job matching.”

As I define it, social job matching is:

“Any process that occurs outside the funnel (before one is an official job applicant) and leverages data from individuals and employers within (or across) social networks for the purposes of helping people find jobs and vice versa.”

There will no doubt be tons of companies entering in this emerging field, but not all social job matching is (or will be) created equal.  The winners will all have one thing in common: a strong reliance on the science of human measurement (aka psychometrics). Psychometrics are a differentiator because they are the key to ensuring that matching and sourcing includes scientifically sound data. The addition of this component is the key to reducing the noise and friction that drives the issues that have been plaguing hiring since the birth of the first job board (i.e., searching for needles in haystacks).

This is still a very new space, but there are a few companies that are currently poised to break out and define this space. These include: Good.Co., YouScience,, Matchpoint Careers, BraveNewTalent, and eHarmony.

Here’s why the firms that are using psychometrics within a social job matching system are a threat to the traditional employment testing industry.

The existing process for sourcing is broken — And without adding the ability to include proper measurement of human traits in reliable and valid ways, it will never be properly fixed. Even the best artificial intelligence, while valuable, is much less so in the absence of psychometrics.

It’s less of a hassle to buy – Down-the-funnel assessment purchases are hard to make and rely on HR budgets and endless red tape. Budgets for marketing, social media, and sourcing are much bigger and provide more discretion for transactional purchases. The scale of social media makes the cost of entry very low for end users.

The legal risk is reduced – While proper testing actually reduces risk, this sentiment is not understood by many end users who are often too risk averse to open their minds to the value of testing. The good news about social job matching is that it happens outside of the funnel, essentially “directing traffic” in a way that allows those hiring to gain the benefits of quality talent assessments with less perceived risk.

It puts the odds in your favor – It is pure statistical probability that if you fill your applicant pool with candidates who have been matched via a quality focused tool, you have a better chance of hiring the best talent for your needs. This will be a great incremental value to those using talent assessments, but will even bigger to firms that are using no assessments. The big secret is that social job matching does not have to be perfect — not even close. Its job is simply to drive more qualified applicants into the hiring process, making it more probable that your quality of hire goes up, even if the rest of your process is based on a coin flip.

It’s engaging – Social job matching has a lot going for it. It centers around communities and social connections, meaning that it brings with it engaged users. Social job matching drives continued engagement. Down-the-funnel talent assessments do not provide applicants with any feedback, creating a black hole that is becoming an increasing liability to employment brands. Social job matching provides a direct feedback channel to its users. It usually uses one (or many assessments) as part of the ongoing dialogue with users. This dialogue provides direct paths to self understanding and awareness. Add in the ability to share personal information across social connections and gamified elements such as badges, and the engagement needle shoots off the dial.

It’s accessible – Social job matching will live on mobile devices and will begin to provide ongoing asynchronous collection of data from engaged users. In other words, while traditional assessments have boundaries around how data is collected, social job matching will allow an ongoing experience that will keep the user coming back to add to his/her profile and use information socially to build relationships and find the jobs that work for them. It’s another example of how technology supports mass customization but also individualized experiences.

It’s for life! – Real-time accessibility over almost any device means that over time, a social job matching system will get better at learning about each of its users, and when adding social connections and crowdsourced data to the equation, match quality will continually improve. Users who engage earlier in their career will continue to have an evolving understanding to help them navigate their careers.

Power to the people – Technology’s evolution is a force that is beyond the control of any one company (despite what Google would like to think). Massive waves of social, mobile, crowdsourced data combined with mind-blowing analytics provide individuals with new superpowers. These will center around a real understanding of employers that has been created outside of the “official” messages created by the company. Information is power and social media is a great equalizer that allows individuals to make more informed decisions. The job seeker is about to gain major empowerment in the management of their careers.

It takes people to understand other people – The key ingredients of social job matching play to the strengths of humans as information-processing machines. They key to getting it right in social job matching is the addition of quality psychometrics instead of a reliance on pure artificial intelligence. When it comes to truly understanding people, artificial intelligence can only take us so far. Pure empiricism does not know how to measure human traits, and is devoid of any real theory to drive it  Combining solid measurement of human traits with advanced technology is the winning formula for this new category of talent acquisition power tools.

There will always be a place of extreme value for traditional talent assessments.  They remain a sound best practice. However, technology such as that used by social job matching will provide an easy way to incrementally increase the value of traditional assessments in driving quality of hire.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Sunil Kosuri


    As usual, you make great arguments.

    The issue I see is to make potential job applicants complete an assessment without they being requested to by an employer. Yes, one can always show a lollipop in the form a career development report once a potential job applicant has taken an assessment, but as a potential job applicant who will likely switch jobs every few years, unless I am super-confident about myself, there is no incentive for me complete an assessment and knock myself out of the race for one or more jobs, unless the employer has forced me to take an assessment. Why would I want to expose my weaknesses?

    On the other hand, if I can take an assessment, get to know my score, get a career development report, and then have the option of sharing my score with potential employers when I achieve a high score, I may be more willing to complete the assessment. How many potential job applicants would care to do this with the employer push?

    Isn’t there a reason why all recommendations on LinkedIn look good? It’s self-selection, but can an employer assume that a potential job applicant without a LinkedIn recommendation is a potential bad hire?

    I am not sure that social job matching will replace talent assessments in the near future.

  • Ji-A Min

    As an I/O Psych graduate working in the social job matching space, I really appreciate your scientifically-ground perspective.

    From our own research, one of the biggest pain points for employers is sourcing the right candidates. I believe that combining the decades of psychometric research with new data collection and analysis technologies has the power to truly disrupt hiring for all the reasons you’ve listed above.

    The biggest challenge I anticipate for those of us in the space is getting employer buy-in for the quality of our pre-assessed candidate database. Companies that not only have the best psychometric assessment and matching algorithmns, but who can also attract the best talent will win.

    I’m also really happy you mention how empowering a job matching system is for the job candidates too. Too often, the benefits for jobs seekers are ignored. I think all of us – employers and employees alike – are seeking a better alternative to the current outdated hiring system.

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