The Semantic web is going to reshape our relationship to information technology. Software that is able to interpret data, contextualize it, provide us with insights and even learn will take us to new heights of interaction. Gains will be high both in terms of productivity and decision making.

Today, within the frame of our Employment Strategy serie, we interview Mr Gerard Mulder, Sales Director Worldwide at Textkernel.

Together we will examine different facets of employment and see how the semantic web can impact it.

Mr Mulder, you are the Commercial Director of Textkernel worldwide,
Could you quickly summarize what Textkernel does and how it puts Semantic technology to work in the employment domain ?

Textkernel delivers semantic solutions to HR and employment professionnals. We provide 6 différent products to:

• Collect and analyze unstructured documents such as CV’s, job offers, job description
• Automatically fill in structured data from those documents into HR and employment systems
• Find the best jobs and CV’s from multiple databases and social medias
• Automatically match jobs and candidates
• Analyse hundreds of thousands of job offers to detect opportunities (leadgeneration and outplacement of employees from work to work), monitor market trends and provide global employment intelligence to strategic analysts and decision makers.
• Detect discrimination in jobs
• Anonymize CV’s

Our products integrate into bigger database systems such as ERP’s, HRIS, recruitment software and Jobboards. Jobfeed which provides business intelligence on the job market, can be used both as a stand alone or integrated solution.

Who is this technology for ? What benefits do they derive from it ?

Our main application domains are recruitment, talent management, mobility and HR intelligence. We supply our technology to all types of companies:
• We help recruiters find candidates.
• We help candidates find jobs.
• We help recruitment service companies find business opportunities.
• We help professionals manage competencies and understand the employment market better
• We optimize all this through time saving and elimination of boring administrative tasks

Can you expand on Internal HR applications ? Do you see this as a growing application domain for semantic technology ?

Yes HR professionals seek to proactively manage competencies. Especially in the current economical climate, companies are faced with a decline in the number of employees or can only hire very selectively. This makes it more important to be able to recruit within the company and save costs on external recruitment. Information about employees can come from a variety of sources including payroll, yearly appraisal, test results or even Linked’in or Viadeo profiles. It can also be outdated. (for instance the CV they used when they came in).

Today semantic technology helps gather such information in a coherent system. It helps HR managers analyze, anticipate, find candidates and take decisions in a centralized way, within their favourite work environment.

Tomorrow it will cross employee information with other type of data to further facilitate a strategic approach of HR.

Your technology can interpret non-standardized documents such as job ads or CV’s, it can match them in a structured manner and it automatically runs an analysis of millions of jobs to make them easy to search and analyse. How does it interact with Human work and interpretation ?

Human work and interpretation will always be essential. Semantic technology can help work more quickly, save time on document processing and make information management more easy. This gives more time for professionals to think, interact and take the right decisions. We like to say our technology does the preliminary work and the recruiter or hiring manager does the selection.

What feed-back did you get from customers on Human software collaboration ?

The feed-back we get is positive or useful. But we do not get a lot. Semantic technology is designed to make processes natural and intuitive. For instance, a recruiter will search in natural language and technology will suggest synonyms, give hints and provide all facets of available candidates.We are currently trying processes to actively get more feedback to further improve the software.

With the expectable progress of Semantic Technology how do you see the job of HR and recruitment professionals evolve ?

I see HR and employment become increasingly strategic. HR and recruitment professionals will be lead to more analysis, research and strategy. They will also have greater and more diverse interactions with professionals from other disciplines.

Semantic technology will make it possible. The knowledge economy and the growing flexibility in the labor market makes it necessary.

Your Jobfeed technology has analyzed millions of jobs, from thousands of sites in The Netherlands over the last 7 years. What are your main findings ?

Jobfeed has become a very rich and important source of information for any professional working within the broader HR Industry. Now even governmental organizations rely on this information to get insight into trends in the labor market. It has become one of the most popular products for recruiters, jobsites and for mobility purposes.

The combination of both historical and real-time very detailed information about jobs has given an impulse in the transparency of the job-market and now even starts to open up the possibility to predict employment for both sectors and occupational classes. The fact that we have this information and our language technology capabilities allow us to also do research on new insights and verify assumptions about the labor market.

You are continuing your European Expansion with the recent opening of an office in France. Do you see an emerging European employment market ?

There is a European economic market and a European employment market seems only logical. Beyond that, I see a structural interest in mixing culture and competencies. This is usually very fertile. Sometimes it is even necessary. For instance, at Textkernel, we hire very high expert profiles and only 40% of the team at our Amsterdam HQ is dutch. Other team members come from many different countries. When comparing Europe to other economic powers in the world Europe is still the biggest. A more unified Europe and a more flexible workforce within Europe would definitely help sustain and grow Europe’s wealth.

When former Federal Reserve President Alan Greenspan was asked to make a comparison of US currency and economy versus European currency and economy he said that Europe would never be able to reach the kind of power the US has. One of his main arguments was the lack of a flexible European Labor market and complex interactions. For now I guess he is right, but I would like to prove him wrong in the long run. Multilingual semantic technology can play an important role in achieving that.

Can we already talk about Employment Big Data ?

An application like Jobfeed gathers millions of data and makes them understandable. In that sense yes. However there is still a lot of work and opportunities in that field. Possibilities are almost limitless. This is one of the most creative parts of information technology.

CV’s and job ads usually only reflect part of the reality of a person or job. Are you working on enrichening with complementary data from “The Cloud” ?

We already do and we make very active research in that field. For instance, we aggregate data on companies and we work with statistical bureau’s or assessment tools editors. Of course the selection will always be a human choice, but the right choice is defined by what your options are or information you have available. We can help improve these options and provide better information.

When you dream about the technological future of employment, what does it look like ?

I would like to add information to that question. What I dream of is the possibility for every person to find the jobs that fit them best during their careers and help them grow and prosper.

For employers I hope they will always be able to find, attract and retain the talent they need to succeed in their missions. This does not start when people enter the employment market. This starts long before that when they make a choice for an education, if they can make that choice.

Good information can help young people make the right choice. It will make employers see the importance of getting involved in the educational system and training their existing workforce. It will make sure we do not get a mismatch between supply and demand. Semantic technology plays an important role or even enables this kind of information richness and possibilities.

Thank you

Gerard Mulder
Sales Director worldwide – Textkernel

Version en français : Le web sémantique façonne l’avenir de la gestion des talents

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