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Seeking Software Fix for Job-Search Game

Wall Street Journal (06/06/12) Lauren Weber

Companies are expected to spend $5.75 billion on online recruitment in 2012, and their outlays could climb to as high as $10.4 billion by 2016 if the weak job market recovers to normal levels, according to market-research firm Borrell Associates Inc. Web-based job-hunting tools have left human resource departments with too many résumés and have given job seekers the sense that applying online is a waste of their time. Technology firms of all sizes are trying to develop software that can read résumés intelligently, flagging a handful of truly promising candidates to recruiters, and alerting job seekers to openings that are specifically targeted to their skills and background.

Pioneering online job boards such as the ones developed by ASA corporate partners and CareerBuilder are also rushing to reposition themselves with social-media apps and search algorithms designed to sort résumés in a more nuanced way than the original keyword-based model. is staking its future on a version of semantic search called 6Sense, used in its SeeMore and Power Resume Search products. The second approach works like online dating services, requiring job seekers and sometimes recruiters to fill out detailed profiles or questionnaires about their goals so that the software can suggest potential matches.

“If you create tools that allow recruiters to spend more quality time with a smaller number of high-quality people, that’s valuable,” says Michael Pope, founder of San Francisco recruiting firm Captain Recruiter. But that tool first needs to earn the trust of job seekers, recruiters and employers. So far, he notes, “there isn’t anybody that tries to empower all three sides at once to be more effective.”