Swedish Startup Hopes to Replace Resumes With ‘Gamified’ Job Matching System
Has the resume outlived its usefulness? Niklas Jungegard thinks so.
Jungegard, an entrepreneur based in Sweden, leads a company called Sqore, which runs a platform meant to provide a better way than resumes to match applicants and employers, and students with educational opportunities. The platform uses a “gamified” approach, full of quizzes that give users a chance to demonstrate skills and share their interests and goals.
EdSurge sat down with Jungegard to talk about his views on the future of the job search process, and about how being an edtech entrepreneur in Europe differs from being one in the U.S.
The conversation is part of our Thought Leader Interview series on the future of education. Below is an edited and condensed version of the conversation, or watch the complete interview.
EdSurge: Could you start up by just saying a little bit about Sqore, which I understand is a platform that gamifies the recruitment experience for employers? How does that work?
Jungegard: I actually started the company back in 2010, and bridging education and jobs together wasn’t really something that people worked on in Sweden. It’s something that’s come lately. But we started with the belief that every single person on Earth possess an X factor that in the right form will shine—basically that we all have this skill set and characteristics that, in the right form, can get full use of. I couldn’t have put the finger on my talent when I was 15, so I tried to find alternative ways to show what I was good at, and that continued into education and now we actually created a company around that.
In the future, recruitment cannot work the way it does today—just looking in the traditional channels and looking at the resume, country of origin, educational background, and last name. But you need to look at the skills and the values that the person shares with the organization or the university. So we use these gamified features to create really strong engagement, to get really interesting data about the people.
Is the idea that filling out a resume has become outdated?
We all know that the traditional CV is a little bit static—a little bit dumb, and it’s not showing what the person is actually good at or what mission and purpose that person has. And catering to millennials and younger people, you need to have a new way to trigger them. They want to opt into career opportunities, they want to opt into education opportunities. How do you get them triggered? How do you find out what they’re really interested in, what they’re passionate about, and what they’re actually good at?
I guess I’m curious to hear your perspective as a European. Are HR practices and cultures changing yet?
In some industries that’s actually happening now. In some industries it will take 10 to 20 years. So, for example, at Ernst & Young, they talked about scrapping the diploma [as a requirement] in the UK. We have found our niche, that in certain client segments worked extremely well, where it’s super popular.
Something that the market has to understand is that they need to be digital leaders. Regardless of if you are a retail brand, an automotive manufacturer, or a tech company, you need to show digital leadership. The next generation workforce will expect you to be in the forefront of using digital tools. And not just in the front of the house, but all the way throughout the company. And the last place they often started to show that [digital leadership] is in the recruitment process.
I noticed on your website there’s a mention of Brexit and how that might affect employers—what do you think the impact of that will be for employer practices and hiring for global companies?
I love this topic. I hate what’s going on in certain parts of the world, but Sqore’s mission has always been to connect skilled people with great opportunities. With Sqore, both universities and companies can tap into a global network of motivated, international talent and connect them in an engaging kind of process. If our product works, it means that you can take skilled people from places where there’s a high concentration of talent and move them into a place where there might be a big demand for that skill. So, I believe in open borders because that has worked really well in EU—getting talent from one part of Europe—and it’s super easy for employees to get started and move into another country and start to work. When you start closing those borders, you will prohibit growth, and you will get less diversity in teams, and it’s going to be more difficult to move the skilled people that you need.
I’m curious about the edtech scene in Sweden. Is there much of one? How is it different from what you’re seeing as you visit here and your knowledge of the US?
The US is extremely good at the networking effect of getting people together. Even though there might be interesting companies and interesting things happening in Europe and in Sweden, they don’t sort of meet. So there is no such thing as the GSV Summit in Europe or Sweden. That’s why I’m here. But as late as last year or this year, they actually started industry organization for edtech companies in Sweden. But I would say that we are well behind US, and I think that people have realized the potential of technology and education for a long time and that has been different in Sweden. Much different.
Is there some reason for that? Are there differences in Europe that hinder technology use in some way?
There’s less competition between educational institutions in Europe than there is in US, I would assume. Meaning that you have free education in most countries, so they do not necessarily [compete for students from other countries].
If HR and hiring practices change using products like yours, it seems that algorithms will play more of a role than ever. Maybe I’ve just read too many sci-fi novels, but there seems like there’s the possibility of something darker potentially, even unintended, where algorithms could create biases or problems. How much do you think about things like that as you build Sqore?
I think it’s very valid question because if, as you grow bigger, you actually can affect the career prospects or the opportunities for that person. And if you don’t do things in the right way, if you don’t innovate for something that is positive and better than what it was in the past, then it’s very dangerous. So that said, it’s important that when you develop what we call at Sqore the skills graph that we have a way to see what people know and perhaps what they need to practice more, that comes with a responsibility.
We have chosen a path where we do it independently together with the markets. We always do it together with an institution, a university or an employer, and create the challenge together with them. Meaning that it’s very connected to that specific job opportunity. So we don’t publish the result of that person or anything like that to the next employer.
It’s super important that you protect the data in the right way, and that you have an objective, transparent way to assess what a person is good at or not. Because that changes, it’s not something that is static, but it will change over time on an individual basis.
But that said, today it’s not really an ideal situation. Because today, the recruitment market is plagued by nepotism. It’s very much about being fortunate to be born in the right city, in the right family, or something else, and that is still is the case in the majority of countries. So whatever you can do to take one step away from that, and have a more transparent, objective approach to it, that can only be better.
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