Few people have a career that progresses smoothly from newbie to the C-suite without a few twists along the way. Finding one's niche often takes time as Chris Hyams, who heads the multinational online job search company Indeed, knows from personal experience.
Hyams has been Indeed’s chief executive since 2019 but he took the long way around having originally studied architecture, worked as a special needs teacher and briefly dallied with a career as rock musician before turning to tech.
He subsequently worked in enterprise software and then started his own technology platform for film analytics before joining Indeed as vice-president for product 11 years ago.
Today, Hyams runs an organisation that employs 10,000 people and gets more than 250 million visits a month to its job listings platform. The company is active in more than 60 markets and in 28 languages.
“My role is to help people get jobs and, as a company, we help more people to do this than anyone else,” he says.
Indeed was founded in 2004 and set up its Dublin office in 2012, “with three people and a plant”, as Hyams puts it. The number has since grown to 1,200. (No update on the plants).
Hyams spoke to The Irish Times as the company gears up to launch its new virtual recruitment platform, designed to help candidates find jobs faster and companies to spend less time on recruitment admin. One of the key features of the new platform is integrated video so candidates can now search, apply and be interviewed for a job all in one place from their laptop or phone.
“Currently, getting a job is slow, complicated and impersonal. Our goal is to make it simple, fast, and more human,” Hyams says. “We’ve taking a process that used to take days or weeks and are making it happen within hours or even minutes.”
The new platform also allows employers to automate the process of sourcing, screening and scheduling candidates for interview, thereby freeing those doing the hiring to spend more time getting to know the applicants.
The screening questions are aimed at helping employers understand how a candidate’s skills and qualifications align with the job’s responsibilities. The company says that employers already using the new platform report that this has helped them identify candidates they may not have previously considered, such as those with non-traditional backgrounds or employment gaps.
The introduction of the new system is timely as Indeed's hiring data for Ireland shows the volume of job postings here is 18 per cent ahead of pre-pandemic levels.
Some of the growth is due to the reopening of sectors such as hospitality but there is also strong demand from companies that have thrived over the last 16 months. Indeed’s data also shows that about 50 per cent of employers now accept they will have to hire people without having met them in person and that, even when Covid is over, virtual hiring will continue.
“The pandemic posed horrible challenges to health but also ravaged the global economy in a way that was very different to previous economic downturns because it was so unevenly distributed,” Hyams says. “Entire sectors were wiped out overnight while at the same time, traditional businesses had to shift rapidly to ecommerce.
“Suddenly, thousands of employers were urgently trying to hire to support the new stay-at-home economy and get healthcare workers out into the field.
“The impact was immediate and devastating and we wanted to help so we began offering our services for free to large organisations trying to hire faster than ever before. We built a system to help them automate finding, screening and making offers to thousands of candidates and those we helped hired more than 60,000 workers in just 12 weeks across all hiring platforms.
“We quickly saw the beneficial impact of automating administrative tasks that take up nearly 80 per cent of all recruitment efforts and this was one of the experiences that provided the inspiration for the new platform.
“The second was watching how employers were using Indeed,” Hyams adds. “In March 2020, we saw video interviews grow by more than 1,000 per cent. This told us that employers, who historically had been very reluctant to try video interviews, were now ready out of necessity. So, we assembled a team, built a new video interview platform and integrated it directly into the Indeed experience for job seekers.
“Employers suddenly found video was not just Covid-safe, but also convenient and effective, particularly if they needed to make multiples hires.”
Asked what qualities Indeed looks for when hiring for itself, particularly with innovation in mind, Hyams says it starts by choosing those who demonstrate a genuine interest in others.
“Our mission is to help people find jobs and we look for people who can connect with that,” he says. “We’ve also found that a broad diversity of background, experience and thought leads to greater insight and understanding of our users and our customers and to greater innovation. No matter how creative they are, people tend to see problems through the lens of their own experience and come up with solutions based on that.
“Many companies try to hire for ‘culture fit’ – people who will fit into their business as it exists today. We try to hire for ‘culture add’ – what will they bring to help us grow into the business we want to be.”