Recruitment Startups to Watch_ Unleash 2018



Last week Unleash came to London, and as usual for me, the most exciting part of the show is the start-up part of the conference. What cool new recruiting tools are out there? Most of them have their roots outside the US, although several have offices in the US now.

Now this isn’t a prediction of their success since I just look at the product and we all know marketing and sales plays an enormous role in the success of a firm, but these start-ups I loved the most.

Recruiting Tool Start-Ups

Robo Recruiter won this year’s start-up competition, and as far as I’m concerned, it was thoroughly deserved. Their product taps into what I’ve long considered being the most undervalued and underutilized resource in any (major) company: the resumes in your ATS. They are the silver medallists, the people that just didn’t make it. If in Sports we’d discard all our silver medallists right away most Olympic champions would have never been. Robo Recruiter built a chatbot to keep talent engaged and, if your ATS allows it, their resumes updated at the same time. And of course, if sourcing (even from your database) just isn’t in your natural process, it encourages your existing talent pool to apply to open jobs if they tell the chatbot they might be open for a new job. Robo Recruiter helps you utilize your most underused recruitment asset: the candidates that already said they were interested in your company by using smart chatbot technology.

Pocket Recruiter has a straightforward promise. Give them your open vacancies, and they will give you a list of candidates. By extracting keywords and essential data with a smart matching technology, they build a profile, and they use boolean search to bring back matching profiles. They do this both internally, from your ATS, as well as from external sources such as Linkedin, Monster, CareerBuilder, you name it. By selecting profiles, the algorithm improves for the specific search, basically like an external sourcer works, it’s just an algorithm now.

It might seem pretty basic, but that’s their strength as far as I’m concerned. It just automates the process humans do, without the bias, eliminating time-consuming actions so a recruiter can do where he or she adds the most value: engaging with the candidate.


With Robo Recruiter we make sure our silver medallists in the ATS are up-to-date and still engaged. With Pocket Recruiter, we get a list that fits our current vacancy best. Candidate.ID helps you then select who to call first by giving you a list of whois now most engaged with both your company as well as who seems to be most interested in a job.  They do this by tracking a candidates activity on your website.  If you have an administrative assistant job opening and your ATS has 20 good candidates based on their resumes. Who do you call first? Who will be open for a change? All of them applied last time when you hired the person that’s leaving now.

Candidate.ID tracks their activity, their responses to your e-mails or if you are using RoboRecruiter the actions taken in the chat. Also, based on their behavior, did they watch your most recent video? Did they look at a job opening? Candidate.ID gives each candidate a score on how likely he or she is open for a job at your company. This provides a priority list of who’s most likely to be open for your call. It saves time in calling suitable, but not interested, candidates. If you have a set of people suited for the position based on their resume, it helps you prioritize your workflow based on their interest in a job at your company.

As people that read my earlier articles know, I’m passionate about better selection. Selection based not on a resume alone but on actual testing and data. Virtubio does this. The company is similar to the American company HR Avatar (, except in price. Since I have not used both extensively, I cannot comment on the quality of the tests. What Virtubio does is create work like games and test your actions and reactions in these games. If you get a lot of jobs to do, can you prioritize? How fast do you do all these jobs? How good is your working memory, if you are told something at minute 5 and asked about it at minute 15, do you still remember? It’s a gamified combination of both cognitive skills as well as psychometrics and your work attitude. Do you cut corners when it comes to integrity?  How is your customer orientation and self-reflection?

I love all test based pre-selection tools, and I believe for different jobs and even different companies, various tools are most suitable. Virtubio is another one in this field that offers a different experience by testing strengths and weaknesses.

GEM Recruiting AI


Robot Vera is a Russian robot that helps companies both find as well as pre-select candidates by phone. Yes, you are reading this correctly, it calls the candidate directly.  It can also answer candidate questions. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s far from a human-like interaction yet, but it can help in both inbound as well as outbound calls.

At Unleash I was fortunate enough to talk to a recruiter from a Russian client. She told me they hire 6.000 people a year of which 40% are unqualified to work. Basically factory workers and truck drivers. In Russia these jobs don’t require a resume, why should they, and so applying is done by phone. For every vacancy hundreds to thousands of people call. This company screens these people with just three questions. Do they have the right drivers license? Do they have enough work experience driving trucks of this size (they don’t hire people that only just have their license)? And are you willing to travel to the factory location? Robot Vera asks these questions and collects the data, sends it to a back-end system.  Based on these qualification questions the recruiters can now spend their time only on suited candidates.

They also offer an outbound calling system that goes through all the job boards matching your vacancy based on your requirements. First, it compares CV’s and makes sure a person only gets called once, since most resumes are listed over ten times in Russia. It then calls the people up and asks them if they are interested in working at your company and for this specific job. If so it askes when would be a good time to be called. By doing this, it generates several things. First of all a list of interested candidates and a time to call him or her, so a recruiter doesn’t waste time talking to voice mail. Next, it generates information about your employer brand.

I’ve tested the Robot Vera in English, and it’s English is good, but not as good as it’s Russian probably is yet. Since in Russian you can have an interactive conversation, adjusting new questions to the answers and in English the interview is non-interactive. It’s 100% scripted, and it has fixed questions that a candidate needs to answer. I did test the application, and the transcription of the phone interview was over 90% accurate. One of the mistakes was my name, Bas was turned into Boss. To be fair when I worked in London half my colleagues made that mistake also and my coffee at Starbucks also always has Boss on it.

My central question on this technology is the adoption of applicants. Will they consider it fresh and innovative or will it be perceived as not personal and arrogant? In the case of volume recruitment with basic phone screenings, that’s not as much a problem and the technology can be very useful.


VCV is focused on screening candidates and having a robot take over most of the hiring process. This might sound like science fiction and not personal, but when I think of all the people that never hear back after an application or are rejected without even having a chance to say anything, it might actually make recruiting more human.

They screen CV’s based on a profile and select all those matching the requirements. From this VCV contacts the candidate and asks them what method of intake they prefer, a chatbot or a phone call. Sometimes the chatbot can move on to a phone call. Based on the selection questions of the phone call, they move on to schedule a video interview. The video interview isn’t just the interview; it has facial recognition in it as well.  Currently, it only shows the emotions a candidate has during the interview, is he or she nervous or annoyed for example. They are working on implementing psychometrics based on micro expressions so that you can get a psychometric profile as well.

The video interviews can then be sent to the hiring manager who can decide who to offer the job or invite for a face-to-face interview. Their client list is impressive, and they say they can be used for all entry and mid-level jobs, but personally, I think they would currently be best suited for volume recruiting.

Resourcing Insight is an entirely different type of recruitment tech start-up to watch than the ones mentioned above. They make the data in your ATS, and other HR systems, visible and actionable. They create insights from data and present them to you in a dashboard you can actually use. So they mainly do what CruncHR ( does, but for the HR/recruitment departments with less budget. Don’t get me wrong, I love CruncHR and those guys to fantastic stuff and create a lot of value, but they also cost a lot of money.

Resourcing Insight takes the data from your applications, mainly your ATS, and presents it in a visually attractive dashboard so with one look you can visualize things like the time to hire, by the department. Or the gender balance in applicants and hires by the department.  Or the number of agency hires by the department. All the data that is already in your ATS but is very hard to get out of the ATS and present to your line management. They build it into a dashboard UI that updates every month or quarter, depending on your wishes.


Bas van de Haterd

Bas van de Haterd is a self-employed professional that helps companies recruit smarter by using the right technology. He is mainly known for his in-depth knowledge of pre-screening assessment technology. He also runs a research, award, and event called Digitaal-Werven that focuses on the candidate experience. Follow Bas on Twitter @bvdhaterd or connect with him on LinkedIn.