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Startup, Leap, is using AI to ensure tech job seekers get that interview

(BUSINESS NEWS) Two ex-googlers have created Leap and are using AI to make sure that techies are getting interviews.

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Hiring is a hard job

You are looking for that ideal job. Conversely, you may be looking for the ideal candidate for an important vacancy.

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LinkedIn, now under Microsoft, has become the default go-to resource. That status will soon face challenges from ambitious competitors.

Take a leap

Leap.ai, founded by two former Google executives, are making a bold claim: the LinkedIn model, a ubiquitous presence, can still be cumbersome. Looking to upend the antiquated “text crawler” methods that many HR departments use, they are promising a better way to match up candidates and employers— groundbreaking AI powered bots that will weigh candidate’s qualitative markers as efficiently as quantitative ones.

The result—an automated ideal match based on comprehensive aptitude and attitude variables, hitherto unheard of.

CEO Richard Liu was quoted saying, “We learned that hiring is hard. Your ability to learn, collaborate or take initiative are strong characteristics, but it is hard to get a feel for them from an interview”.

Users can sign up on the website or iOS app.

An algorithm matches candidate’s hiring criteria with available jobs, based on candidate profiles, which includes sections on self-assessment, personal values, and job preferences. “We not only send the user’s resume, but also an endorsement that explains why the candidate is a great fit for the company and role,” said Liu.

If successful, such development promises to revolutionize job hunting, significantly cutting down on hiring timeline, resources expended and the need for HR intermediaries eliminated.

But for now, the startup is only focusing on tech jobs.

Artificial Intelligence, artificial success?

Will AI powered data fare any better? Especially, when the suggestion was compiled based on data gathered from job seekers and employers? As such, the matchup is not unlike what dating apps promise—a high degree of relatability.

Future profitability will provide a more direct answer.

In its current model, the new startup makes money only when it facilitates a hire. Although the company is yet to announce profits, at least 70 per cent of their “matches” have passed the first rounds of interview.

Is that rate much higher than what LinkedIn achieves? That data seems to be missing, perhaps because the specific metrics are not being tracked.

Candidate matches are focused on five cities at present—Austin, Silicon Valley, Boulder and New York. However, since there is a lot of demand amongst Asian companies to re-acquire talents back from the America, Leap.ai has plans to expand globally. Interestingly, ZhenFund of China, a major Asian tech VC, has been the leading investor in the company.

“We’re actively seeking opportunities in China [but] we want to make sure we are well established in the U.S. before moving into China,” Liu said. “We’ve set our targets for the U.S., China and India from day one.”

The underdog

Founded under two years ago, the company has only 10 staff (half of whom were hired via their service). Their small size, however, is not stopping the startup from dreaming big. They want to build a mentorship opportunity— guiding young employees through career goals with helpful AI powered data.

Exactly how that goal would be realized remains unclear at this stage.

For now, despite boasting 50 customers including Dropbox, Uber or Chinese companies like Baidu and Didi, the company would require more seed money to become competitive.

It is perhaps ironic that the best place to get a quick background on the founders of the startup that is daring to challenge Linkedin, is in fact, Linkedin.

#Leap

Barnil is a Staff Writer at The American Genius. With a Master's Degree in International Relations, Barnil is a Research Assistant at UT, Austin. When he hikes, he falls. When he swims, he sinks. When he drives, others honk. But when he writes, people read.

Business News

Sneak peek at what Gen Z wants from employers

(BUSINESS) Gen Z is up and coming in the workforce. Grab their attention and keep them on board with these tips for employers.

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If I had been born one Olympic Games cycle later, I could include myself in Gen Z. Alas, I’m classified as a Millennial, and now that Gen Z is growing up, marketers and businesses are after this fresher generation’s attention.

While there’s no exact start and end date to who counts as Gen Z, demographers and statisticians generally consider this generation as people born between the mid 1990s and mid 2000s.

Also referred to as Post-Millennials, Gen Z is defined by kids who grew up using the internet at a young age, and are comfortable with social media and technology.

Now that the older end of Gen Z is preparing to graduate college, a new demographic is entering the workforce. Employers who were previously scrambling to attract Millennials are now after the freshest crop of recruits.

Bazaarvoice, a social strategy company that connects brands to consumers, weighs in on what Gen Z is looking for when it comes to employment. 73% of their workforce are Millennials, so Bazaarvoice clearly knows how to attract and retain young talent.

Based on their research and experiences, Bazaarvoice dug into what Gen Z wants from companies, and how businesses can work to reach this upcoming group.

Like Millennials, Gen Z are considered digital natives, aka people who were raised using technology rather than acquiring familiarity at an older age. However, this doesn’t mean Gen Z wants the same thing as Millennials in a career.

Gen Z kids grew up during a time of social progress, and tend to value inclusion for all demographics. Equal marriage rights, electing a black president, and more vocal religious diversity were not historical moments for this generation, but rather a normal part of life.

This is the most diverse generation to date, and they expect to see this reflected in their workplace. A commitment to diversity as well as clearly established company values will draw in this new batch of employees.

Companies should consider providing initiatives like matching charitable donations, paid time off for volunteer days, or even volunteer opportunities directly through work. According to Bazaarvoice, “equality is non-negotiable” for Gen Z.

Employers should ensure their hiring practices bring diverse candidates to the recruitment pool with “blind” screening, no gender pay gaps, and a welcoming workplace that celebrates diverse identities.

And make sure to really stick with and clearly communicate these initiatives and values, because Gen Z will certainly put in the research. Expect your Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, and social media pages to be thoroughly analyzed by this tech-savvy generation. Any indiscretion will be noted.

Your employer brand must be consistent across the board to provide honest expectations to a generation wary of hollow advertisements. Including current employee stories in your promotions aids authenticity since this group prefers recommendations from people, not ads.

Once you’ve got Gen Z’s attention with your company values, you have to match their ambition as well.

Gen Z isn’t going to settle for some low pay, crap benefits position. Since a significant portion owes on student loans for education they’ve acquired to work for you, they’ll hope to be fairly compensated with a competitive salary and decent benefits.

This generation grew up with social media influencers and young CEOs rising to fame, so they’re quite independent and motivated. Gen Zers don’t want to feel like part of the machine, they want to make a real impact even at an entry-level position.

Offer chances for autonomy, personal growth, and continued education to appeal to this incredibly motivated group. Gen Z makes up around a quarter of the population, and employers who put in the effort to reach this group will benefit as more Gen Zers enter the workforce.

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Business News

How to level the gender playing field in tech (and other industries)

(BUSINESS NEWS) One job search site has a reasonable answer to solving the gender gap problem in today’s workforce, and others should take note.

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As an employer, you should be screening employees based on qualifications and preferences, not a candidate’s gender. This seems obvious, but even the most well-meaning employers and recruiters are subject to the curse of implicit bias.

Implicit bias comes into play when unconscious attitudes or stereotypes about someone’s gender, sex, race, ethnicity, age, religion or other identifying features are used to judge that individual’s competency. This is different from known biases, where a person is aware of any stereotypes they may believe, but may choose to not disclose their views.

Major universities including Harvard and Yale teamed up to create Project Implicit, a series of implicit-association tests (IAT) to detect implicit bias through a series of quick associations. Their popular Gender-Career IAT “often reveals a relative link between family and females and between career and males.”

The test has users pair pre-established names of men and women with family and career words. Test takers are prompted in one round to quickly match pre-categorized masculine names with words typically associated with family, while the next may have users pair feminine names with career words.

Based on hesitation and accuracy, users get an interpretation of their potential implicit biases. This comes into play with employee screening, where something as simple as seeing a name on a resume can influence an employer, even in the absence of known biases.

In a Skidmore University study, social psychologist Corrine Moss-Racusin created two identical, fictitious resumes for a lab manager position. The resumes only differed in name, with one fake applicant named Jennifer, the other John.

Different versions were sent out to STEM professors across the country for evaluation. Overall, the “Jennifer” resume received less interest, and was recommended a salary that was on average $4000 less than the identical “John” resume.

Implicit gendered bias was even present in women scientists who participated in reviewing the resumes. In the STEM field, women are underrepresented. Especially in tech, men are disproportionally hired over women.

So what can be done to level the playing field for gender when even a name could make employers think women candidates are less qualified?

Stop looking at names when initially researching a candidate. Okay, I know this is easier said than done and isn’t feasible if you’re screening through normal process of resume submission and in-person hiring events.

But if you use an online source, more platforms are offering solutions for fairer hiring practices that allow you to blind screen employees during initial rounds.

For example, job search site Woo offers anonymity for prospective employees, only revealing a candidate’s name and profile with their permission. During the initial pairing process, skills and background are shared, but other details are not available.

When setting up a talent profile, potential employees fill out a wish list, telling Woo about ideal opportunities, like higher salary, company culture, or desire to work with new technology. Likewise, employers set up their profile to reflect what their different positions can offer.

Using an AI algorithm, Woo calibrates employer with employee preferences to make relevant offers. During this step, user’s identities are hidden until they find an opportunity that matches preferences and actively choose to share their expanded profile with that company.

Woo even adjusts education and work history “so that it’s completely generic and less personal” to provide further identity cloaking. (Bonus: if you’re job hunting on the DL, Woo won’t pair you with current or past employers.)

This means employers can’t apply implicit or explicit bias based on name or profile information that may reveal personal details like gender or race.

Once a user chooses to share this information, employers are free to Google and social media hunt the prospective employee to their heart’s content.

Until then, talent benefits from being seen solely for their skills and experience. This can help level the playing field, especially in the tech industry, which is notoriously skewed towards hiring men.

Major companies like Lyft, Wix, and Microsft are already using Woo, and the service is available to employees in the United States and Israel.

Other job sites should consider scrubbing personal details like gender and name for initial searches and matches when showing results to employers. This can help eliminate bias based on gender and other personal factors.

If you’re seeking a job, you can use Woo for free. Employers can submit info to get contacted by Woo about joining up and staring a better, bias free recruitment process.

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Business News

As soda sales slump, companies consider crazy coffee

(BUSINESS NEWS) Retail trends continue to shift as new generations demand innovation – soda sales are slumping and brands are looking to coffee as the answer.

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Since the 1950s, beverage companies have been concerned with the shift of market share from soda to coffee in terms of breakfast and afternoon drink staples. Well now, that fortune has been reversed. According to analysis by the Washington Post, coffee may once again trump the caffeinated drink market, leaving soda manufacturers to question what may come next, while planning a strategy to enter the playing field.

The slump in soda sales are causing some beverage manufacturers and parent companies looking to merge or acquire others in order to hook the consumer throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Considering that in late 2017, Coca-Cola acquired hipster sparkling water favorite Topo Chico, other companies are falling in line to make sure that their reach goes beyond the high fructose corn syrup.

The secretive JAB Holdings, the German parent company of Panera Bread, Keurig, and Stumptown Coffee Roasters, acquired Dr Pepper and Snapple, making this 40+ drink brand company a bigger player than ever in the search for “the new soda.”

So what is going to be the “new soda”? One answer companies may have is the coffee beverages that are certainly similar to their current soda line-up. Outside of Pepsi and Coca Cola, bottling ready-made java drinks on behalf of Starbucks and Pepsi, some brands are really leaning into “soda, but not” for their coffee beverages.

The 2017 National Coffee Drinking Trends Report predicted four of the big trendy brands that soda is up against: regular cold brew, sparkling cold brew, nitro joe on draft, and ready-to-drink coffee products. Stumptown Roasters, underneath the Dr Pepper and Keurig mega brand umbrella, has been producing sparkling cold brew since early 2017, which seems unlikely to change in light of these market trends.

The morning mud appears to be an American drink pastime that isn’t going away, with the millennial and Gen Z market wanting exciting coffee innovations to keep their interest and cash loyalty. Soda companies, in this day and age, are struggling to balance their brand portfolio to make sure that dollar keeps flowing, just like their beverages.

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