Business

Shackling old-school recruitment style 

  • In conversation with Dr. Oshadie Korale of XpressJobs 

BY Yakuta Dawood 

Unlike the old times of job hunting, technological advancement has created an enormous scope for growth that essentially avoids red tape and promotes efficiency in the industry. The Develop It Yourself (DIY) column of The Sunday Morning Business this week spoke to one of our very first Sri Lankan recruitment solution providers, XpressJobs, to get an insight into the new era of the recruitment process. 

Reminiscing the past, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Dr. Oshadie Korale told us that XpressJobs was initially discovered when the other two co-founders named Chathum Henegama and Sampath faced difficulties in sorting out all responses received after the advertisement to recruit software developers from Sri Lanka for a UK company. 

Elaborating, she said that even though a couple of job sites were available in Sri Lanka five years ago, they were required to send the CV in an old-school manner by email which certainly caused the recruiting companies to receive too many responses with no method of accurately sorting them through. 

Therefore, by identifying the then market, the team of three co-founders took the initiative to further enhance the recruitment portal with an aim of increasing the standard, finding the right candidate for the recruiter, offering recruitment technology to companies such as startups, Small and Medium Enterprises, and boutiques whilst also charging affordable prices to all. 

When inquired how the journey has been since inception, Dr. Korale stated that initially there were two problems, the first being recruiters. According to her, it was quite challenging in getting Human Resource (HR) departments to try out their new technology since most of the decision-makers were often older who neglected to realise what technology, for example, cut down workload by 75%. 

The second were the job seekers who were just used to sending their CVs via email and putting them through the post for the places they were applying for the position because they did not like creating accounts and divulging personal information in creating an account. 

“However, social media boom in creating accounts and us targeting the younger crowd at HR and then moving towards the hierarchy made us normalise the operation. Later on, we became something they could not live without,” she said. 

The journey so far 

During the inception, the company had invested Rs. 3 million, after which the website was free of charge for recruiting companies for a period of six months. However, the company later bootstrapped its way forward for further development of the website since it was a do-or-die situation. 

As of today, XpressJobs has over 4,500 companies – local and international – working with them, and has processed over two million job applications in the last five years and has over 450,000 jobseekers registered within the company. 

Elaborating on the services offered by XpressJobs, Dr. Korale highlighted that the company is a recruitment technology company with a job portal as a face, where the technology is built in a way to benefit all stakeholders involved in the process which is why all the services offered by them are unique in comparison to the existing competitors. 

Accordingly, the services are: 

The first is the “Filtering” advancement. Companies tend to struggle to find the perfect candidate for the job position when there are a lot of CV’s received, hence to offset this difficulty, XpressJobs has a mechanism to filter out the best candidates by having a customised Q&A form as per the recruiter’s requirement. 

Speaking on this, she stated the filtering tech was initially built for HSBC. “When they (HSBC) started posting with us, over 1,000 candidates had applied overnight with half of them not suitable for the job they applied for the brand name. We knew there was no way the HR team was going through 1,000 applications to recruit five people so we built the filtering system.” 

The second is the “Track”, where the companies will be able to track their candidates all in one place. For example, the Application Tracking System (ATS) will show the recruiter about the statuses of candidates whilst also giving the ability to change the statuses of candidates. 

With reference to the XpressJobs website, the status check involves areas such as screening passed, screening incomplete, screening failed, booked for interview 1, booked for interview 2, rejected, the job offered and various other options. 

The third is the “CV-less application”. This service allows the candidates to apply for a job even if they do not have a CV to submit to the company they are applying for. Accordingly, this works really well for recruiters wanting to hire school leavers and workers for unskilled positions. Further, this service also offers automated SMS integrations for walk-in interviews. 

With reference to the form of a Microsoft Excel sheet, candidates are generally required to enter details such as name, mobile number, retype mobile number, address, education qualification, email, age, etc. 

The final is “Statistics and Trends”. This service offered by XpressJobs allows the recruiter to discover trends in recruitment, the performance of their HR team, quality of applicants, number of interviews scheduled and much more. 

Further, smart SMS services for walk-in interviews, self-interview scheduling, online timed tests, target-based social media marketing, video job adverts, XpressJobs Android application are some of the additional key services offered by XpressJobs for recruiters. 

Giving an example of a recent customised service, Dr. Korale stated that XpressJobs catered for AIA in a unique way where when an application comes through, the system would automatically send it to the nearest branch. This service also allowed the head office to monitor the whole process. 

Therefore, emphasising the uniqueness of the services, she said that even though competitors have been in the market for a number of years, but have not actually done anything to improve the technical aspect, is the very reason they are in the market. 

“I also welcome the newcomers which help us stay on our toes and have to change our ways to adapt to the market. Friendly competitors are always good for business,” she added. 

Meanwhile, when inquired of how long the recruitment process takes, Dr. Korale mentioned that it depends on the position which the candidate is applying for. Explaining, she said that they have companies who post in the morning, do a Zoom interview in the afternoon and offer the job in the evening within the same day and then also have enterprises who take a long time due to paperwork, etc. 

“I think on average you can hire someone within a week. Obviously, very senior positions such as Vice President, and General Manager would take about a month or two whereas freshers with one to two years of experience can be hired on the same day, especially with the pandemic situation,” she explained. 

Deep dive into the company operations 

XpressJobs aims to cater from boutique to enterprise. As mentioned above, they have different application methods for white-collar and skilled workers. According to Dr. Korale, the client base is now 4,500 companies and keeps on growing daily, for instance, they find a lot of companies just buying a package online and trying them out without them having to introduce themselves. 

Switching the topic focus on employees, Dr. Korale stated that even though XpressJobs recently secured a 100 million investment from Emerging Media (Pvt.) Ltd., the team is a small dedicated group with employees consisting of those who started from the beginning to now. 

“The pandemic has forced us to work from home for the last couple of months and we have hired more people during that time. However, we started our office at a co-working space in Regus which only had three seats but now we have our own floor. Therefore, I feel pretty accomplished,” she noted. 

Likewise, addressing the corporate culture, she highlighted that it is a pretty easygoing, family-like relationship and the decisions adopted by the company are also always based on inputs given by the entire team. 

Explaining, she said that she likes empowering people where people don’t really have to check with the management to make decisions. “We try things out. The best thing we did recently was when we changed our pricing that was decided by a member of our sales team who said ‘let’s just lose this package’. Hence, if the team messes up it’s all our problem because we took that decision together.” 

When inquired what are the marketing techniques used, Dr. Korale stated that initially they were only using social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and liked to be the first on any new channel if something comes to market, for example, Clubhouse. 

Subsequently, they realised that to attract the mass market they still needed to be on conventional media too, especially for blue-collar/skilled staff. Hence, they started to use TV and radio commercials for advertisements. According to her, XpressJobs is pretty much on every single digital billboard in Colombo due to the investment they received from Emerging Media. 

“We have also seen word of mouth now, for both recruiters who endorse us and job seekers. They know our name if you need a job,” she added. 

The future ahead 

Speaking to us on this, Dr. Korale said that fortunately, the traction gained by XpressJobs has been good even after the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic and Easter Sunday attacks in 2019 which severely impacted the operation of the business. According to her, it was because most of the companies froze recruitments due to the uncertainty of the market. 

Further, commenting on the recognition of XpressJobs in the international market, she stated that it has always been the first choice for any and all international clients as the portal offers recruitment technology based on the global standard in comparison to all the existing Sri Lankan competitors. 

Accordingly, they are currently hoping to break out technology and sell it separately such as application tracking systems, and also to expand into other Asian markets and Gulf countries. This is why the brand name was recently changed from XpressJobs.lk to XpressJobs to attract international clients. 

When inquired what are goals set for the upcoming few months, Dr. Korale expressed that their short-term goal is to do a complete UI/UX change since it is five years old, whilst also having a couple of integrations and partnerships in the near future. 

Likewise, expressing the five-year goal she added that she wants everyone who is between the ages of 18-60 who would be doing a job to have found their job through their website whilst also moving to other markets and exploring other avenues for revenue. 

Giving the concluding remark, Dr. Korale advised that people willing to explore a new idea should not keep waiting for the perfect time to start a new business and nor should forget to change/adapt to the market. 

“We have now established ourselves and have quite a big market share. I pride myself in the fact that we have been market trendsetters for rec-tech and we have been doing it slow and steady. We talk to clients and take their feedback seriously. We look at both recruiters and jobseekers as clients even though we only charge from the recruiters,” she added.