Blockchain could — and should — disrupt application, recruiting, and interview process

Did you know that here in Wisconsin we have two blockchain labs, one at the Marquette University, the Marquette Blockchain Lab, and one at the UW–Madison, Badger Blockchain?

Additionally, Wisconsin is home to the largest blockchain conference in the Midwest, the Milwaukee Blockchain Conference, co-hosted by the Marquette Blockchain Lab and Northwestern Mutual. The Milwaukee Blockchain Conference took place last week, with more than 300 attendees from across the country (of course I was there). As a business community, we are lucky to have two organizations, and an entire conference, focused on emerging blockchain technology and exploring solutions to business, workforce, and world problems.

Blockchain has infinite use cases, and I’m focused on those that would inform how blockchain will evolve the recruitment and talent-acquisition industry. IB Online Editor Jason Busch’s article “Avoiding Hiring Hiccups” in the October issue of In Business magazine ignited my blockchain passion on the less referenced scalability for blockchain as a solution to our tight labor market and inefficiencies in job matching.

The focus is on our data. We produce tons of data over our pre-career and career lives that inform our potential employers and customers (if you are an entrepreneur or client service provider) in regard to our education, experience, skills, and certifications. Currently, the majority of compiled data about us is recorded in our resumes, give or take a year or two, or that which we’ve posted on platforms such as Linkedin, Facebook, any digital job board we use or may have used, and our Target Cartwheel loyalty program (you would be surprised what they know). These platforms are centralized, meaning they collect your data and information and store it on their servers. Because of this, they own your data. You do not, despite the fact that it is your data.

Outside entities owning your data creates a single point of failure or lack of security for your information, because if their servers go down, get hacked, or the company/platform goes out of business, you could lose your information or have it compromised.

I haven’t updated my resume in years because all of my accomplishments are listed on LinkedIn. The platform now has a really awesome feature: one-click application to upload your LinkedIn profile to apply for jobs. This ease of use suits both candidates and organizations. The flip side: it makes it difficult to consider moving any information away from the platform.

Unfortunately, you do not know who is accessing your data, how they are using it, and what they are using it for. Enter blockchain capabilities. For a background read, please check out my article on “Blockchain dreams: Payroll innovations come true.” Blockchain is all about making our data sovereign — meaning we own it, we are accountable for it, it is verifiable, and easily accessed by who and what we choose.

The problems blockchain could solve for the recruiting process are numerous: sourcing, vetting, selecting, negotiating, and onboarding spring to mind. Particularly top of mind for me right now are: 1) making the resume obsolete, 2) decreasing time to hire by referencing the blockchain for validation and verification, 3) widening the talent pool by cutting the speed of entry to the workforce — disrupting the four-year and even two-year degree process — and creating better job and culture matching, and 4) more secure job boards, job matching, and recruiting platforms. Let’s tackle those in order.

1. It’s been my prediction for a few years now that the traditional resume will soon become obsolete. However, I thought video would kill it, rather than blockchain. Blockchain capabilities will totally transform the way that companies select candidates to screen for first interviews — that is, if interviews also last out. Interviewing is part of vetting and “getting to know” a candidate, and are seldom a fail safe way of knowing that a job candidate will be successful. Plus, interviews are time consuming and sometimes are used for validating a candidate’s skills and experience, which is less than a perfect scenario.

Back to no resumes though. No resumes means no human resources 30-second reviews of resumes, no paying per click or view on a job board like Monster or Indeed, and for candidates, no wondering if your resume even made it that far.

Soon, organizations will have databases of individual “digital keys” rather than resumes. The word “resume” could also soon be replaced with the words digital footprints, digital identities, digital passports, or digital CVs. Corporate recruiters and hiring mangers can simply pull up the public blockchain, search for specific criteria, and follow a potential candidate’s digital footprint to get to know the individual without actually meeting face to face or virtually. It’s even possible that the blockchain can store performance indicators like whether the candidate was promoted or the reason why they left a company.

ChronoBank, one of the first companies to make the move into disrupting with its own cyrptocurrency, is moving its way into the recruiting industry. It is primarily focusing on creating a disruption in the short-term recruitment market using its blockchain technology to hire this way for key professions — mainly hard-to-find tech and coding — and then eventually expand to the wider recruiting market segments.

In addition, there is potential for blockchain to work with AI and machine learning and produce predictive analytics on whether a candidate will succeed in the corporate culture. It could be a totally mapped out process; however, this is still a long way off, and a bit eerie to consider.The drawback to this is that as candidates, we can no longer spin or fudge a bit on our experience and/or metrics. On the other hand, it levels the playing field for candidates who do not have the creative aptitude for resume storytelling.

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2. With blockchain there is no need for a lengthy and cumbersome verification and validation process where HR uses third parties to confirm employment history, certifications, and performance. Instead, the information is already online for them to see. Again, this process can work with AI and machine learning to filter through validated and qualified resumes, use predictive analytics, and fast track candidates.

Trending is the move to recruiting self-learners, especially in the tech sphere, where the speed of process and code knowledge surpasses the speed at which these skills can be taught in traditional education institutions. Blockchain can assist recruiters to verify learning for nontraditional skills training such as tech boot camps and YouTube self-learning videos. Seriously, I was at a PechaKucha event two years ago during Forward Fest and one of the gentlemen on stage talking about his VR company said he learned to code by watching YouTube videos over the course of a weekend.

Yes, it sounds scary to think that your potential employer or customer could know what you are “up to” online; however, it is inevitable as members of Generation Z, who are already digital natives, are more comfortable with sharing personal information online. They are open to and would even “like” allowing employers to use blockchain technologies for background and skills verification, and they will be the largest demographic in the workforce in just a year or two.

3. Blockchain will connect all your information across the web for ease of job matching. This is critical as the trend is moving away from four- and two-year degrees and documented performance reviews, and moving toward more online access courses, work skills, and just-in-time performance discussions.

“Organizations that can recruit based on verifiable credentials can find candidates that are overlooked by other organizations that are focusing only on traditional education and resumes,” Danny King, co-founder and CEO of Accredible says in an interview with HRDive.com. “This provides a competitive edge in hiring from a limited talent pool.” It also opens a pipeline of candidates into the market whose entry into the workforce would have lagged due to time spent earning or saving up for the longer term investment of a four-year or even two-year degree. The organization i.c.stars in Milwaukee is an early adapter of this disruption.

Blockchain can even work as a future job and culture-matching technology. As a candidate, even if you are not ready for the job, the company you are aiming toward can track your development and value exponent and match you with future job opportunities by inferring an employee’s skills and future path from their digital footprint. Give an organization access to your digital key and DONE — you have applied for every job currently open, open in the short-term, and eventually open in the next one to two years. Suddenly, it’s no longer such a “job” to find a job.

4. Creating more secure data availability and visibility for job seekers and passive candidates is increasingly becoming a competitive differentiation in recruiting and employment branding strategy for organizations. There are many reasons not to use online methods to search for jobs right now. People are thinking twice about putting their personal data out there as we are all now so familiar with the numerous issues Facebook has been having with data security and fake news fraud.

OnRec, an online recruitment industry news publisher in London, reports there has been a 300 percent rise in reports of recruitment-related fraud and misconduct. Prospective employees have been taken advantage of by mischievous individuals, pranksters, and fake corporations passing as recruitment agencies. At the same time, employers have ended up recruiting the wrong people, creating employment branding issues on both sides.

Because blockchain uses “consensus of data” to establish factual information, it helps to eliminate fraudulent data and the technology could protect businesses from being conned by cybercriminals. Additionally, blockchain technology could limit the threat of cyberattacks to organizations’ human resources information systems and databases, thereby helping to secure user data and company human capital investments.

There is a widely held view that advancements in blockchain for HR technologies are way behind blockchain for the financial services and health care. I disagree. Startups and innovators for the human resources capabilities in blockchain just are not as visible to us, and/or do not have the branding pull that organizations in the financial, insurance, and health care industries do. However, because they’re smaller, they can also be more agile — agile and progressive.

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