Recruitment websites are some of the oldest and most established residents of the internet, but if you’ve ever used them to find jobs or fill vacancies, you know that there is a lot of room for improvement in how they work. Now, a startup that is out to do just that by applying artificial intelligence to the task has raised a large round of capital to grow its business, both in terms of adding new technology and also expanding more internationally.
ZipRecruiter, a startup based out of LA that has built a marketplace for employers to post open positions, and — by way of AI — help job-seekers to connect to openings that best match their skills and interests, has raised $156 million in a Series B round of funding, at a valuation I understand from sources to be in the region of $1 billion.
This latest round is being led by Wellington Management Company and returning investor IVP, along with participation from unnamed existing investors. ZipRecruiter has in total now raised $219 million, with its previous round, $63 million led by IVP in 2014, being its first significant outside funding.
This latest money comes at a time when ZipRecruiter has already made a lot of headway in the job-seeking market. Ian Siegel, the co-founder and CEO, said that over 100,000 businesses, and 10 million job seekers, are using ZipRecruiter for their recruitment needs: Siegel estimates that ZipRecruiter is already accounting for about 10 percent of activity in the U.S. recruitment market, with over 5.6 million jobs listed on its app as I type this.
“Everything’s gone really well,” he said. (I find he’s a little prone to understatement, which maybe isn’t a bad thing in the sometimes-overheated world of tech startups.)
The company’s basic services revolve around two distinct areas. It provides listings for job openings on its own platform (which is primarily accessed by way of its mobile apps), and it disseminates jobs across a plethora of other sites — it works with the likes of newer entrants like Facebook, as well as more established players like LinkedIn. While the disseminating service hits potentially tens of thousands of sites and has its own benefits (although Siegel describes it as “posting and praying”), it’s the mobile app and the direct service that he believes is where the company has what he calls its “secret sauce”, a big data analytics exercise for matching candidates to roles.
“As soon as you post a job as an employer, we search through 10 million active job applicants to find the best matches,” he said. “This is not Boolean matching but deep learning that uses 64 different dimensions of information.”
This includes details like what other employers a person has shown interested in, how many times people have searched for openings for specific jobs (a measure of interest), and also how a particular candidate’s profile matches with those that an employer has shown interest in before.
Siegel says that this is not just an exercise in bringing the most impressive candidates to the top of the pile, again and again, and serving less qualified candidates uninteresting prospects, but it’s also not a silver bullet and might drive home some hard truths for those looking for their dream job.
“There are more jobs that need to be filled than there are unemployed in the US today,” he said. “There is a job for everyone, but that doesn’t mean everyone will get one.”
That brings ZipRecruiter to one way that it will likely develop in the years ahead.
“We’re really focused right now on continuing to improve the quality of the matching that our system is making, and optimising the mobile experience.” But in addition to that, he sees an opportunity in also helping candidates figure out why they are not matching well with the jobs they might aspire to have. “We are really good at helping you see jobs you’re likely to get, but what about jobs you aspire to that may not naturally make you a match? In the not too distant future, we will be able to say if you add one more skill all these jobs will become available to you. The nature of the guidance will be very interesting.”
You can see how that might also apply to how ZipRecruiter could help organizations also better tailor their ads as well, to better target specific users, giving the startup an even better foothold in a market that has rapidly shifted but still remains very entrenched with players like Monster.com, Indeed and more.
“In a tight and ever-evolving labor market, businesses need effective, innovative hiring solutions now more than ever,” said Eric Liaw, General Partner at IVP in a statement. “ZipRecruiter has modernized the recruitment experience in an essential, undeniable way. Their sophisticated implementation of AI technology has established them as the foremost platform in the space, having driven millions of employment matches–they’re truly poised to be the next internet marketplace success story. The growth of the business has been phenomenal, and we are thrilled to deepen our partnership with the company as they continue to improve the lives of both job seekers and employers of all sizes.”