The future of recruitment? There’s something in those trees… | by Matt Lintron | Coinmonks | Jan, 2023


There are a number of web3 projects looking to reinvent, disrupt and improve recruitment. I share the premise that all these projects espouse; that recruitment is significantly overdue for disruption and that web3 has the combination of tech and ideology to achieve it. The question is whether a web2.5 corporation harnessing the tech — or a web3 native project — will crack it first. If it’s going to be the latter, then the window to steal a march on the former is surely open. What interests me most is what they couldeventuallydisrupt, in order to obtain the differentiation necessary to threaten the incumbents.

If you’re going to come for recruitment marketplaces, job aggregators and talent solution providers like Glassdoor, Ziprecruiter, Dice, Talent.com, Indeed and LinkedIn et al, then we are talking about (eventually) wading into the corporate recruitment world and disrupting some pretty sophisticated hiring models, recruitment professionals and the tech that supports them. You’ll definitely need an edge or three. Creativity for sure, the ability to build a community, and funding. All powered by decentralization to help shift recruitment outside of its traditional organizational silos, and achieve economies of scale savings and other benefits that no web2 entity can match.

One such project appears to have these edges; The Tree Kangaroo collective is gearing up to take on the the talent-solution clone army.

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Photo: Willrow Hood

Roo Troop’s on-chain marketplace

I came across them a month ago. I have read up on their project, undertaken a little Discord stalking and listened to their most recent Twitter spaces. However, I have not engaged with their lively community as yet. Assessing them from a distance allows me to consider their initial plans through the lens of a former corporate “talent professional”. It also allows me to freely speculate on how their service offering could evolve to make those disruptive breakthroughs in the months and years to come, given they’ve already put in some hard yards.

The community-focused founders of Roo Troop launched their first NFTs in January 2022 and a follow up in March. Raising c$750,000 in the process. On top of this they launched $Roolah — a token designed to operate solely within the ecosystem they are building. The funding they’ve raised, with more to come, is all leading to the imminent launch of the first on-chain recruitment marketplace. The marketplace has the current working title of ‘Roodacted’ — but I’ll use Roo Troop for consistency in this piece. And you can read all about the project and the etymology of the name here.

Anyway, I don’t own any of their NFTs at the time of publishing, which is a statement you have no reason to trust. And trust, or lack thereof, is the key marketing message they have coalesced around for their first key product launch.

What will v1 of the on-chain marketplace do?

In the US and UK, you can find various surveys that state 33%, 35% or more of candidates admit to lying on their resumés. And conversely, c25% or so of employers apparently do not undertake comprehensive — or in some cases any — vetting of new hires.

As I understand it, the most eye-catching plan for v1 is:

  1. To have the employer confirm the ex-employee’s role and dates of employment on-chain, creating an immutable record of it.
  2. The employer scores their ex-employee on a range of skills, qualities and experience.

Objective one is a long-time heralded use case for DLT and is pretty cool. There, on-chain, lives a permanent record of your employment dates. When this achieves adoption — when it’s more widely understood what makes it immutable — the admin cost required to verify dates of employment is almost nil. Yes, the likes of LinkedIn can introduce ‘employer verified’ ticks on their platform. However, a chance exists for Roo Troop to become the de facto recorder of employment dates across multiple talent platforms. And as many corporations only release employment dates and little else when fulfilling reference requests, it has a definitive use case out of the box.

For the second feature, there is nothing ostensibly wrong with it. The employer is asked to complete a short grading of skills, qualities and so forth and an immutable record is likewise created. This can be shared with prospective employers (I assume prior to shortlisting) so they can review this assessment and not rely solely upon the resumé. As a consequence, the risk of a candidate being untruthful with their CV is mitigated.

In the first release ex-employees will probably not be able to challenge the review, but this aspect will be upgraded over time. It will have some play with freelancers and the like, and should be a good initial fit for web3 projects. However, when Roo Troop goes after the candidate-driven corporate markets — where the real potential for disruption is — those upgrades will be needed. Not because of the idea itself, but the way humans tend to behave.

Let’s take an example of when we have to fire someone — an unpleasant experience for any normal person who has done this. You feel bad, even if you know it is in the interests of your team and even them. You may compensate with a promise to give them a decent reference. Why? Because it’s easier that way. And maybe with more support they can do better elsewhere. There are innumerable reasons why it may not work out for an employee in any given environment. So a decent score, if not a glowing one, is what you’ll likely give. Who wants the hassle of it being challenged by your ex-employee? Similarly, they realize the damage you could do to their prospects, and so the offer of a decent reference is accepted and they go quietly. They’ll likely go to a competitor anyway, and if they’re below average, should you really care?

An employer-side only system featuring subjective scoring could be unfair to some candidates, primarily due to human behavior. So version 1 won’t take on the talent clones alone, but that’s the end destination, and we are only at the beginning.

The adoption curve for LinkedIn, Indeed and their peers took many years. Roo Troop has advantages over the web2 crowd that it can exploit; the power of decentralization, tokenization, incentivization, and community. So let’s imagine a scenario of how a hypothetical version 7.0 could look, as some of the Troop’s most powerful weapons start to hit their target in the next few years.

A web2 recruiter gazes into the abyss and the abyss stares back…

Creating an incentivized and reciprocal economy within recruitment

Having to complete multiple references for a previous employee is, quite frankly, a pain in the ass. The version 1 feature has evolved in a slightly different way for corporate recruitment in v7. Roo Troop’s tools still enable me to confirm the dates of employment of my former employee just once and be done with it. However, an organization is interested in hiring this ex-employee. This prospective employer wants to speak with me to learn things they know I would not put down in writing. A conversation with me costs their organization some $Roolah, but it makes sense. It would cost them time and money to get a conversation arranged via email/calls anyway — so this is easier. As the former employer I am incentivized to respond, as my organization gets that $Roolah. So I have a conversation with them.

My organization has received $Roolah for speaking to them, but what does that $Roolah get me? Ok, maybe some discounts on advertising vacancies and candidate searches and the like. But there could be more. Let’s say Roo Troop 7.0 has a deal with some far-sighted and reputable independent talent assessors that have read the writing on the wall. This could be anything from verbal and numerical tests, psychometric tests, coding tests, marketing capability assessments and so forth. The key thing is they are independent tests and add more objective data to my hiring decision. Right now the best tests are expensive and usually only available to the employer who paid for them. If yet another employer recently tested a candidate I am considering — and I am part of the same hiring community as them — maybe I can pay some $Roolah (that I partly earned from providing that reference earlier) to access those certified test results? Theoretically this is a win-win for my organization and the competitor that undertook the tests. This is an ultra-simplistic example, but it hopefully gets the point across about how the ecosystem could evolve.

Roo Troop 7.0 has convinced employers that being part of a hiring community — whether defined by geography, industry or whatever — is many levels more beneficial than working against each other throughout the entire recruitment process. They now just compete from the selection stage onwards to attract the best candidates. Being in this community cuts out a lot of the effort expended by employers (and candidates) in getting from A to B. Think of all the wasted time and energy in current hiring practices; multiple applications, multiple candidate tests, multiple overlapping talent networks and so on. Opportunities for employers to cooperate are bountiful within talent acquisition. But it’s always been a PvP adversarial practice as obtaining superior talent inarguably gives you an edge over your competitor. Roo Troop 7.0 is simply disavowing employers of the notion that they need to compete all over the field.

These groups of employers share interview feedback, recommend good candidates within their community and if a competitor hires a candidate they originally attracted, back comes a significant amount of $Roolah. Well, chances are they would interview there anyway through another channel, so why not?

Do you get the picture? Are you laughing now?

Some will laugh at the suggestion of how much impact a successful web3 project will have on hiring practices. For such types, it would be pertinent to remember that two decades ago, the idea of organizations having all their employee names and job titles on the internet for anyone to contact would have been anathema to most employers. LinkedIn leveled that playing field to their credit and their benefit. Roo Troop could bring down even more barriers to the benefit of all. Better for candidates and for employers. A corporate entity will struggle to do this, it’s just not built to function that way.

Alongside the obvious point of web3 roles being a natural starting point for the Roo Troop marketplace to focus upon, it was mentioned in the October spaces chat that they would be targeting graduates too. Integration with specialist web3 ‘proof of learn’ providers will confirm the education credentials. Graduates are a natural fit to onboard as they have limited work experience to verify on-chain (although there will be ways to onboard more experienced candidates too).

Given the amount spent on attracting, assessing and selecting graduates by employers, the graduate segment provides a further opportunity to build and scale their solutions in the short to medium term. It could function as a springboard to educate non-web3 employers on how a decentralized approach to recruitment — utilizing the power of community and enabling ‘coopetition’ — is strategically beneficial for everyone.

A ‘new’ or ‘fresh’ approach to recruitment is an exhausted meme in the talent industry. The rare ones that actually have such potential don’t need to say it. And yes, there is a long way to go to get there. But whilst it’s true I don’t own any of their NFTs right now, trying to find reasons for why that should remain the case for much longer will prove quite difficult.

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