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Understanding HR Technology Series - Grad DNA

In the course of what I do I get the chance to come into contact with an impressive array of HR Technology products that could form a part of how enlightened people professionals are taking to reimagining the world of work. Given the avalanche of technology choices faced by our profession I want to give byte size reviews of some of those I’d recommend as we all seek to make our organisations relevant places to attract and retain today’s talent.

This week I’d like to focus on the vitally important graduate recruitment market and an ingenious new app to match quality candidates of all backgrounds, pre-screened for their exact skills, called Grad DNA.

The graduate talent problem

Whilst Brexit has diverted our attention to what seem like grown-up near term problems and commentators have trivialised early talent into a bunch of lazy generational clichés, it is easy to forget that we have some major structural issues in that area for the economy and society. Widening access of opportunity beyond our narrow beliefs in an out-dated class system, bridging the gap between education and work, the automation of the workplace and the end of the lifelong employee proposition to name a few. The established graduate recruitment process for those familiar with it has long been ripe for change. Too long winded, overly focussed on academic achievements over more valid indicators and often a disconnected experience for the increasingly digital savvy candidate which then represents a poor, dispiriting reflection of the employer’s brand. This annual descent into milk round chaos, chasing a perceived shortlist of talent (due to academia snobbery) from inefficient teams of recruiters doing their best needs turned round.

What is Grad DNA and how does it work?

Stephen Reilly lived through groundhog day above as a Head of Graduate Recruitment and used this as a driving force to overturn the out-dated rituals by creating a free psychometric technology app called Grad DNA.

For the graduate, testing is now available on mobile. More than any part of our talent ecosystem this is a significant development given the resistance amongst the traditional assessment vendor landscape for anything that feels like diminishing the test experience necessary to complete such an important cognitive task. The team has gone even further by creating an airplane mode facility that guards against notifications appearing from other apps on the smartphone to ensure maximum concentration and guards against distraction. Finally a constant stream of phone calls can also see the test be put on hold. These safeguards, balanced against the ability to integrate with the smartphone, allows for greater validity of the results and weeds out those not taking the exercise seriously. The graduate completes online a standard short profile of typical academia results but then more importantly 6 tests as follows, lasting circa 87.5 minutes in total:

Critical – 10 minutes

Verbal– 10 minutes

Situational judgement - 20 minutes

Personality- 30 minutes

Inductive reasoning- 7.5 minutes

Numerical- 10 minutes

Their result matches them to only those graduate schemes where they meet the requirements (academia and where specified by the enterprise other criteria taken from the tests). This cuts down on the age old problem of hours of wasted, duplicated effort direct with employers before realising that there has been a poor fit and ultimately a rejection. The upside on candidate experience and the collateral damage to the employer brand cannot be underestimated by this step change.

The direction of travel for Grad DNA is to build enormous scale of bright graduates regardless of background, pre-qualified on unbiased selection. In doing so the team works on creating reach within that demographic, raising the brand’s awareness and providing some more value for the hard pressed Careers Services pushing the Employability Agenda. And for that we should all be very glad.

For the recruitment function, accessing a database of pre-qualified graduate talent to redirect to your company scheme is a huge productivity gain. So many of our functions spend too much time on a narrow funnel (based on limiting criteria) with too many stages and too many wasted hours on something Grad DNA can sift out. Ultimately this efficiency gain can be redirected into latter parts of the process where greater focus can be spent on socialising and selling and assessing cultural fit on a deeper level. By introducing a more science-based approach at this stage allows for greater focus on accessing a pool of talent from all backgrounds and building a practical inclusion strategy at a time of heightened focus on that important area.

What did I think?

With its commitment to engaging its audience on a platform they can relate to, bringing testing freely to the graduate masses and using science to open up access to a broad definition of talent, this is a great partner for the hard pressed graduate recruitment market. Internal recruitment functions should think carefully about how the productivity gains and the technology enabler impacts what is probably a currently out-dated approach and fix this in conjunction. Whilst integration is feasible to the ATS, there is just no point in dialling up antiquated university biases or repeat testing elsewhere in the workflow so the culture, structure, process and mindset of the business needs bravely tackled in parallel with this technology enabler.

Until next time. Let smart technology help build great companies.

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