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Helping Students, And Companies, Tackle Jobs And Talent Challenges

By   /  December 26, 2013  /  No Comments

rsz_pyimageby Jennifer Zaino

It’s not only in June that we’ll see a new crop of graduates emerging from university and post-grad programs. Many students also don cap-and-gown for December ceremonies – a prelude to wearing regular or casual business attire, they hope.

Of course, matching up with the right job is always a challenging prospect. That’s true on many fronts – the slow economy, for one, but also just figuring out what the ideal career fit will be. Pymetrics is hoping to help solve that problem, with its recent announcement of a career assessment and recruiting platform that draws on neuroscience games-based assessment – a nice touch for the crowd that largely grew up with Playstations, Gameboys, iPods, Xboxes and the rest of the digital gaming gang – and machine learning.

The platform is going to be available for students at MBA and undergraduate programs at Carnegie Mellon, University of Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Emory, Harvard, New York University, Northwestern, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. The company says that in lieu of relying on questionnaires, majors, coursework, grades and test scores to help pinpoint career opportunities, it wants to go beyond students’ reported experience and interests by using games to measure critical cognitive and emotional abilities “that are highly relevant for determining a person’s career fit, but not captured in academic history, resumes or standard assessments,” according to a release. These include, it says, characteristics like organization, planning, work ethic, or risk-taking judgment. Its games, it claims, deliver objective evaluations in a fast-paced and manipulation-proof way, asking students to find the missing piece in a pattern, identify the emotional expression on someone’s face, or respond to different colored arrows.

I made it through a couple of them okay, discovering insights like a tendency to think about the bigger picture that generally leads me to stay with what I know, before I came up against a complete inability to make my way through the arrows test. In total there are twelve games to go through to find your position/company fit, which is accomplished with the help of its machine learning and data science algorithms developed based on employee data. It matches students with specific careers — as well as with top financial, consulting or technology firms — by comparing a student’s resulting profile to the profiles of those who have been successful in such industries, including what their distinguishing characteristics are. Pymetrics has more than thirty different career and company profiles.

The idea, the company says, is both to help students identify careers and companies they may not have thought of as a fit themselves, and to help those companies notice these students, too, with the help of the people-recommendation engine driven by its machine learning technology. It’s up to the students to determine if they want their information sent to relevant recruiters.

The company, which was started by neuroscience experts Frida Polli and Julie Yoo, recently received $2.5 million spearheaded by Khosla Ventures.

The company has noted that it believes this route will help companies cut costs and reduce time-to-hire and turnover rates, as well as address perceived talent shortages. “By measuring cognitive and personality traits with neuroscience games, we have identified patterns that allow you to hire the best applicants, tailored to your company’s needs,” its website touts. In addition to sending companies information on relevant student applicants, it can review information about existing applicants to help companies choose who to call in for an interview.

Recent studies show that it could be on to something: According to Aberdeen Group’s January 2013 report on human capital management, excelling at fulfilling human resource requirements is now key seen as key to organizational growth, and 55 percent of organizations it surveyed believe that HR is more strategic to the business these days vs. being a backoffice function. The top HCM priority was talent acquisition (57 percent), with the report noting that companies today are looking for a way to improve the quality of hires and candidate experience, versus just filling positions quickly and cost-effectively.

By the way, it looks like Pymetrics has some job openings of its own, including a vp of engineering slot.


About the author

Jennifer Zaino is a New York-based freelance writer specializing in business and technology journalism. She has been an executive editor at leading technology publications, including InformationWeek, where she spearheaded an award-winning news section, and Network Computing, where she helped develop online content strategies including review exclusives and analyst reports. Her freelance credentials include being a regular contributor of original content to The Semantic Web Blog; acting as a contributing writer to RFID Journal; and serving as executive editor at the Smart Architect Smart Enterprise Exchange group. Her work also has appeared in publications and on web sites including EdTech (K-12 and Higher Ed), Ingram Micro Channel Advisor, The CMO Site, and Federal Computer Week.

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