Blockchain Poised to Transform HR Talent Management

    One of the dirtier little secret issues that organizations of all sizes deal with when hiring someone is a tendency of job applicants to inflate their resumes. More often than anyone cares to admit, human resource (HR) professionals wind up recommending job applicants who don’t really have the skills being sought. Usually that winds up wasting the time of the line of business manager who is tasked with interviewing job candidates. But it’s not uncommon for organizations to hire someone that in a few months they need to let go because they were not a good fit for the position in the first place.

    There’s now a nascent effort underway to employ the immutable attributes of blockchain database technologies through which the skills and work experience of job candidates can be verified long before they are hired. One example is a recruiting platform being developed by BHIRED.

    BHIRED plans to provide job candidates with incentives to list their qualifications in a way that can be verified across a blockchain network that companies and academic institutions are participating in, says BHIRED co-founder Isaac Marks.

    “It will make it a lot easier to ensure education credential are verified,” says Marks.

    That approach should help significantly reduce the employee turnover that today plagues many organizations, adds Marks. Much of that turnover can be attributed to the simple fact that the wrong type of person was hired for the wrong job. Longer term, Marks says BHIRED intends to apply machine and deep learning algorithms to make it simpler to not just surface the best candidates for specific types of jobs, but also enable job candidates to determine which organizations might be the best cultural fit for them based on, for example, the corporate values espoused by the corporation.

    The BHIRED platform is still under development, but it’s now only a matter of time before blockchain technologies are embedded within a wide range of HR applications. Workday, for example, envisions embedding blockchain technologies within a variety of talent management applications, says Pete Schlampp, vice president of Workday Analytics.

    “We think that would be a super core application,” says Schlampp.

    Naturally, the line between a reasonable amount of resume inflation and outright fraud is often in the eye of the beholder. Organizations increasingly rely on keyword search engines to surface job applicants that have experience in certain areas. Most job applicants have a sense of what the hottest job categories of the moment are, so a database administrator might, for example, include some reference to data science on their resume. A much bigger issue is the outright selling of fraudulent diplomas. An immutable database would make it much simpler for HR professionals to verify that a job candidate was indeed granted a diploma relating to the job they are applying to hold.

    More challenging still, many jobs require certifications that are easier to forge than diplomas. It’s still early days, but Clyde Seepersad, general manager for training and certification at The Linux Foundation, says he expects blockchain technologies to play a significant role in verifying that credentials have both been achieved and are kept up to date.

    “It’s not something we’re doing yet,” says Seepersad. “But it is something we’ll be taking a look at.” The Linux Foundation is the host for the open source HyperLedger blockchain project.

    Multiply the number of certifications that need to be tracked per job function and it’s easy to see why many credentials are not as thoroughly examined as they should be. Blockchain technologies will one day soon create an immutable education record that would make it much harder for anyone to pretend to be something they are not.

    Most vendors today are a long way from broadly applying blockchain technologies beyond, for example, supply chain applications. But given the pressure that HR professionals are under to recruit the best talent possible, it’s clear blockchain technologies will play a significant role within the context of HR applications. Many organizations are already starting to employ artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to identify potential talent issues within the organization. Blockchain technologies could complement that effort by making the overall recruitment process not only more efficient, but also ensuring the pool of talent being recruited is of the highest quality possible. In some cases, HR organizations are even adding their own data science specialists to build analytics applications.

    In fact, organizations are starting to pour millions of dollars into talent management applications. Transparency Market Research forecasts the global talent management software market is expected to reach a value of $12.2 billion by 2026. The overall market is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.3 percent between 2018 to 2026. In a similar vein, estimates the talent management market will be worth $17.57 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 15 percent. Much of that spending is being driven by corporate boards that have realized managing companies is increasingly akin to managing sports franchises that need to attract the best talent possible to succeed year after year. The challenge businesses face is that unlike a sports franchise, they can’t necessarily afford to spend millions of dollars to sign the latest crop of free agents, especially when they might not have much visibility into their work and educational histories, as a baseball or football team does.

    Naturally, setting up a talent management system will require HR departments to either work closely with the IT organization to either deploy that software on-premises or take advantage of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application. In most cases, those HR professionals are already embracing modern applications to automate a wide range of processes that all too often are still paper driven. But once that digitization of those processes occurs, the hope is that HR professionals will then have freed up enough time to not just take advantage of blockchain and AI technologies and not only identify star players inside and out of the organizations, but just as importantly, help groom new ones.


    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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