Episode #365: Simon Oldham, CEO and Co-founder, QJumpers
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Full Transcript with timecode:
John Sumser 0:13
Good morning and welcome to HR Examiner’s Executive Conversations. I’m your host, John Sumser. Today we’re going to be talking with Simon Oldham, who is the CEO and co founder of QJumpers, a New Zealand based applicant tracking system starting to make inroads in the United States. How are you, Simon?
Simon Oldham 0:32
Hi, John. Nice to hear from you. And I really like that I’m intro music. It’s almost James Bondish, isn’t it?
John Sumser 0:38
Yeah. Well, it’s a mystery movie stuff, yeah. So, why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself?
Simon Oldham 0:44
Okay. Yeah. So, as John said my name is Simon Oldham. And I helped to co-found QJumpers back in 2005 in New Zealand, and I guess a little bit of background as to why I got into doing what we’re doing now is I think my family had a the first home laptop, not a laptop, but a first homecomputer in my little hometown back in late 1970s was like our mirrors and Apple two plus, and my head was trying to get a program to work out who was going to win all the horse races. So I got onto this little computer and started learning how to program and code made some pretty basic games and that got my interest in technology back then. So I always had that kind of interest in technology, but University my I did chemistry and French, which is a bit of a weird combination. But I think the idea there was really to show that I could have my brain working both ways creative, and logic. I did that and then I ended up in my first job was a laboratory manager, actually, and then I got told that I was better at sales than chemistry. So, they sent me into sales and off to Singapore for six years working for a Swiss multinational company, and then I had enough of the corporate world and wanted to do my own thing. I’ve always had a little bit of an entrepreneurial spirit. And you have to, I guess, if you’re doing startups, and so, you know, got talking to a guy back in my hometown who had this concept, so I moved back home, and we started QJumpers. And it’s been all go since then.
John Sumser 2:21
Well, that’s an amazing story. They’re not very many 15 year old applicant tracking systems and New Zealand is an interesting market. You’ve been poking around trying to get started in the United States. What are you discovering about the United States?
Simon Oldham 2:34
Well, the United States, it’s a massive place, and it’s not a country. It’s really a whole lot of different countries. And they do things differently in every state, basically. And that’s something I learned when I was in Asia, I was looking after all the Asian countries. And Asia is not Asia, Asia is a whole lot of different countries and cultures and they do business very different. And so when we came to the States, we actively try to work out. Okay, how is business done here? And how is business done in this state and even the city. And, you know, we launched in Texas, in Dallas, Texas. And one of the reasons we chose Texas and Dallas is because Texans do business a little bit like they do in New Zealand, the relationship is very important. That’s who you know, yes, you got to have a good product. And it’s got to solve the problems you need. But you need to know people and they have to trust you. So that was one of the things is Americans, big cultures very different everywhere. And the laws are very different every year. And that impacts the products that we’re making. If you’ve got different privacy laws and data laws and different states, it makes things quite complicated. Now, there’s a lot of laws that impact the technology in the states that are not so they’re kind of here in New Zealand.
John Sumser 3:54
So now tell us a little bit about what QJumpers does. It’s an interesting name. So tell us about the name and then tell us what you do?
Simon Oldham 4:01
Yeah, the name is an interesting question. And we did a lot of research before we came to the states to see whether or not we should call ourselves QJumpers over there. And pretty much the research came back here, maybe 50% of people will get it and 50% won’t but just about everyone said, oh, it’s quite a quirky, cool name, and it’s very memorable. So we went with that we thought let’s keep it memorable is the most important thing but where it’s come from is the goal of our product is to help our clients find and hire the best talent faster than anyone else. And when you say faster than anyone else, what we’re talking about there is jumping the queue to get the best job. Now the queue was probably an English background word rather than American background word. And most people know it but some people don’t and you know something the line for jumping the queue. So going straight to the front of the line to get the best people can next the whole idea of our system is to help our clients using our tools. To get to the best people before their competitors do.
John Sumser 5:03
That’s great. That’s great. So what’s the big question that you’re trying to answer in QJumpers?
Simon Oldham 5:07
Well, we’ve always since we started now, we’ve always had in the back of our minds that recruiting is a real hassle. And not many people like to do it. I don’t like doing it either. So our big question, or the big goal was, okay, what if we don’t have to do any work? And that’s recruitment thing, what are the right person for this job we just presented to us, and then you don’t need to worry about all this advertising stuff. You don’t have to worry about managing all these applicants, etc, etc. And I mean, that’s still everything that we do, is trying to achieve that. So yeah, the big question, you know, how can we help our clients to do that? How can they find just one person but the best person for the job as quickly and efficiently as possible? key things to that as well. Now our system that’s been built is a core elaborative system from the start in New Zealand is, we call it a DIY, do it yourself kind of mentality. Because, you know, we’re miles away from anywhere else in the world. And back in the old days, you couldn’t just get on the internet in phone was was pretty sketchy back in the day. So we kind of evolved out of having to do things for ourselves. Now, here’s a problem. You can’t rely on anyone else. You just do it yourself. You work out what the answer is. And so that’s how it gets the whole thinking of New Zealanders out. It’s like, okay, here’s the problem. Don’t rely on anyone else to sort it out. And so, you know, our problem in New Zealand was with recruiting, your hiring managers want to get involved because they’ve got that near DIY mentality, I want to do this recruiting myself, I can’t rely on anyone else. And so hiring managers in New Zealand, I’m very involved in the recruitment process in an earlier stage way earlier than they are in the States. And so we had to build our system from the staff So that a hiring manager could get on to our system and do the same thing as a recruiter does. And that’s how can the hiring manager who hasn’t been trained in recruitment get to the base person, fast and easily as possible. And now, with this whole COVID-19 thing, collaboration, and technology is essential. And we see even before COVID-19, we saw that the stakes were starting to go more towards a collaborative type technology adoption. But since COVID-19, it’s not just moving to it, it’s essential. If you’ve got people working from home, people don’t have offices anymore, then you know, collaborative type tools are essential. And we believe that how we built it from the start, maybe a little bit lucky that I think it’s ideally set up for the market now.
John Sumser 7:47
That’s interesting, so, do you think with the underlying technology is AI, is that what you call it?
Simon Oldham 7:53
Ai is an interesting question right now and with this COVID-19 situation, I think it’s made everyone stop and think for a minute, we at QJumpers, other suppliers, recruiters, everyone was caught up on this hype of AI. And I think most people didn’t really know what it did to be honest or how it works more importantly. And they’re just like AI is cool let’s get AI without really knowing too much about it. So we have stopped our product roadmap because of COVID-19. And we’ve been having team meetings and saying, Okay, this was our product, roadmap COVID-19 and seven should still be able to grow it because things have changed dramatically in a very short space of time. And for us, yes, we do have some AI tools and ways to market AI tools, but I don’t think people want AI people want the solution that AI will deliver and the focus I think the trackers now going towards is it’s got all this crap about talking about AR it’s all due to me to help me get the best applicants and the best person for my job. Can I trust the technology, I think is important. And we’ve got a tool which we built for the US market. It was a search tool. And it was a combination of lots of robots, a few different technologies. It was combining resume pausing technology, which uses AI on there. And then now what are we doing? There’s a reason I would use natural language processing to actually try to understand what the person needs to know we’re talking about themselves, then there is an A and B now tool would go out and search the web or when a client loaded the job would do the same thing. They would pass the job and work out. Okay, what kind of person is this company looking for? And then we’ve searched the web to go out and find those skills and experience and job criteria using different parts of the AI. But I don’t think the AI is so important anymore. I think the results are important in making sure that we’re solving the right problem rather than near the whole AI itself. I don’t know you’ve been delving in AI for a long time, John, what are your thoughts on it?
John Sumser 10:00
Well, let me ask you this when we ask you the question in another way, so what everybody is about to experience is a massive increase in volume of applications, right? So there’s 30 million people who got laid off are all going to be applying for a job at your company. And so you need some methods for sorting out who the right person is. And I would assume that the tools that you use to figure out who the right person is or combination, so old fashioned search engine technology, natural language processing, and some machine learning, because that’s, as I understand that the best way to get the most accurate results in a search is to combine those things because the matching somebody’s resume to somebody’s job description is way more complicated than asking Google what the weather is in New Zealand. the help of the complexity The query itself as the search results, and having some capacity to make sense out of the search results means using what I would consider a AI. And so actually when I’m seeing is not that people are not talking about AI, but we’re talking about AI to solve very specific problems. The volume of inbound resumes is one of them. There are other things that AI is being used for, like conversational access. You know, the HR department has gotten buried in questions, because everybody’s got an HR question today as they move home to do work, or they get furloughed or they get laid off or they catch the disease. Everybody’s got questions. And so HR is buried in questions. And so there are tools that help answer questions. And that kind of intelligence is in heavy demand, as is the kind of intelligence that helps you sift through a great big pile of resumes.
Simon Oldham 11:58
Yeah correct. And yeah, we’ve gone backk to some of our old school technology, actually, you know, we’ve gone back and revisited our old screening questionnaires that’s got, people get scored based on how they answer the question without any AI whatsoever. We’ve gone back and improved those, as well, as you know, looking at how we can do that automated mixing that you’re talking about riping applicants, matching applicants to the job. And using the technology we’ve already got built in our system. But we were in our roadmap, you know, we were looking at AI in video screening technology. And that sounded pretty cool, but I’m not sure that we know if the technology is being hit. And I’m not sure that people want that right now, I think what they want is, yeah, like you say, the number of applicants is going to skyrocket and what they want is just something that can help them to get through those volume of applicants as quickly immediately as possible. Forget all the cool stuff. And my problem is I’ve got too many applicants. How can I just find the best one or the best one to say as possible time, some of us call Frankie chicken stuff, we’re kind of put on the back burner for now. And just making sure we’re doing the basics that can help our clients get the best applicants as fast as possible, making sure we’re doing it as good as possible. And then we’re also revisiting the candidate experience, all the technology behind that collaboration tools, the managing of the processes itself. Just it’s kind of your back Back to the Future. JOHN, it’s, you know, we we were in that position where the applicants had all the power. there were so few applicants, you’re so hard to find the right people that now turned on its head a very short space of time, and the problems are different, until I think technology suppliers need to stop and think, Okay, what is the problem? How do we solve that problem?
John Sumser 13:47
So there are a lot of people in the business that you’re in, how do you show that you’re different from the rest of them? What are the things that really make you different and how do you prove that when somebody wants you to prove it to them.
Simon Oldham 13:59
Yeah, it’s tricky. And that’s why the next one of the original questions, it’s one of the hard things of entering America. There’s so many suppliers, suddenly people doing similar things. Now, I think in our market, you know, the small to medium sized market, I think we do offer a solution that no one else does. I mean, the fact that we’ve been built for collaboration from the stack, there’s, I think, a huge differentiator between COVID-19 and collaborations even more important than ever. And then, on top of that, we were the first to fully embed an AI web search tool into an ATS solution. I’m not sure if there’s anyone else doing animation basically right now that really show that there’s no inbuilt collaboration and offering now, this search tool in the same system, we’ve got a search, we’ve got trouble integration, we’ve got talent pools, we got career sites, and it’s built for collaboration. I think it’s a pretty powerful combination when it comes to sourcing and managing talent in that recruitment process because we still have even more so now it’s a game of two halves really. We’ve got the talent split into two different sides of it, you’re still going to have really hard to find talent, you’re still going to need some sourcing technology for those kinds of people. And then you’re going to have the volume applicants and some businesses, they need to recruit both. Now with our solution you can.
John Sumser 15:17
Got it. So, there’s all sorts of ethical stuff inside of the business of hiring, bias to privacy. What do you think the three big issues are? And one of those QJumpers do to work with those issues?
Simon Oldham 15:29
Yeah, those are big questions, and really important questions. And there’s a lot of data that’s being collected. I think it’s one of the biggest issues is I mean, you look at what Amazon did, and trying to leverage AI to recommend the best applicants for the job was told technology but was flawed but was recommending based on previous experience. And if their previous experience involved, then the new applicants that the system recommended is going to be biased, too. So when you’re talking about working with AI in new technology, that’s something that concerns me recruitment should be about best patient for the job no matter what hands down. And the technology needs to be used to eliminate the bias, not introduce the bias. So it’s important that testing is done for regular testing, ensure that. Another thing is, you know, with all of the data that’s being collected, recruiters are getting access to more and more information. And if they don’t know how to use it properly, it could have negative effects on the recruitment, there could be limiting opportunities for candidates. If they restricted the search term in certain areas, or not knowing how to use the data properly, then yeah, we could be helping recruiters to recruit worse and better and candidates could be missing out on jobs that they’re well suited to. So it’s similar to the first question of bias, but this is really about recruiters knowing what to do and how to handle data. There’s a worry and training needs to happen. Whenever we roll out our system. We need to be training them Okay, this is the data that we’re collecting. This is what it’s used for. This is how you can use it. This is what it can tell you. Yeah, I think that’s really important
John Sumser 17:07
Well you have a training program for people to help them with these ethical questions, yeah?
Simon Oldham 17:13
Yeah, when we introduce a new system, it’s cool that we train them on all the modules, but we spend a lot of time training them on the talent pool, because we don’t predict just the applicants information in the channel or we collect the reactions, information that’s been approved by the applicant. And so when it comes to that, it’s important that they know how to use it. Otherwise, we’re just going to get a massive data dump. And it’s going to become clear that they are and just be a useless, big dump of data. So yeah, we train them on how to use the talent pool. We train them on how to use the search and match module. They are web search tool. We tell them how it works, what it does, how it matches people, and how they can change it themselves to introduce more different types of searches, specific information that they’re looking for as well. So training is key when you implement A new system especially nowadays, so much technology in the engine behind it.
John Sumser 18:04
So, last question. You’re coming to the United States. It’s a very interesting market right now, how’s it going?
Simon Oldham 18:12
COVID-19 put a real damper on the whole thing. People have stopped hiring. And I remember, we were talking maybe a few months ago, and you’re saying, hey, the unemployment rate just kind of go from a 50 year low to above 10-12%. And I was thinking, that’s ridiculous. That’s crazy talk there, John. And It’s gone up. 15 maybe going to 20%. So, if people aren’t hiring then it’s harder for use to roll out selling on our system, but what we’re doing is we’ve introduced a new path to our system where people can go on and as a single user using our technology for free, really, yeah, this just to help people get through COVID-19 I mean, not everyone won’t be hiring in but we want to help you know, some of these smaller businesses come out of COVID-19 and get back on their feet. And we’ve got a part of our system that’s easy to adapt and help him. So yeah, we’ve decided it’s okay. And it’s we’ve got this opportunity which help America get back on their feet, especially small businesses, if we can small, medium sized businesses, if we can help them get recruiting again, it’s going to help everyone.
John Sumser 19:15
That’s great. The New Zealand DIY design ethic makes QJumpers extremely easy and intuitive to use. So it’s great. You can go online and get a single user license for free for some amount of time. That’s a fantastic way to start taking advantage of the changes in the marketplace. Good idea.
Simon Oldham 19:36
Yeah, it’s a way for people to learn about QJumpers as well obviously, I mean, we want people to know about QJumpers. But the end goal is people’s focus has changed with all of this stuff. Thank you, everyone. You know, stay at home has made people reevaluate their entire lives in how they do things and people are more important. People are more important than money. People are more important than business, helping people get Back on the feet was the key. if we can do that you know maybe people will remember us later on and ultimately make people happy again.
John Sumser 20:09
That’s great. So, I really appreciate you taking the time to do this today Simon. Would you please reintroduce yourself and tell people how to get a hold of you?
Simon Oldham 20:18
Sure. Yeah. I’m Simon Oldham from QJumpers, I’m a co-founder and also CEO. My, I’ll give you my email address directly because I love talking to people in anything we can do to help so my email address is Simon at QJumpers.com, Q JUMPERS dot com. If you wanted to talk to the salespeople then it’s just [email protected], you know, we’d be happy to talk with anyone.
John Sumser 20:46
Thanks I really appreciate you taking the time to do the Simon. We’ve been talking with Simon Oldham, who is the co-founder and CEO of QJumpers a remarkable Do It Yourself New Zealand, Applicant tracking and candidate management system. And you’ve been listening to HR Examiner’s Executive Conversations. We will see you back here same time next week and thanks again for doing the Simon. Talk to you soon. Bye bye now.