April Fools: Why Elevated Careers Is A Joke.
The first time I heard eHarmony was making a jobs play was all the way back in the Summer of 2013; I even pushed back a flight home from SHRM to attend an ancillary conference where Dr. Steve Carter, eHarmony’s Chief Data Scientist, was speaking about using their matching software for recruiting for the very first time.
What can I say? I’m a geek like that.
I was admittedly quite impressed by Dr. Carter’s presentation, with its deep dives into eHarmony’s data and behind the scenes look at their affinity based competency modeling. Of course, I was also impressed, at the time, by the fact that someone with an actual PhD from a recognizable consumer brand showed up at a job board conference being held at the O’Hare Radisson in the first place.
So consider the context, I suppose.
When I spoke with Carter during one of those “networking” coffee klatches after his session, I told him that I actually thought, given the fact they clearly knew nothing about recruiting or HR, but a ton about online marketing, matching and consumer behavior, gave them a pretty good advantage over traditional job boards.
Couple that with a data set as robust and refined as eHarmony’s, and an algorithm with a pretty good track record of adjudicating affinity, and, in theory, Elevated Careers had – has – the potential to be the kind of disruptive, innovative technology that our industry so desperately needs, but almost never actually gets.
Fast forward almost three years, and the product that’s been under development longer than most HR Technology startups stay in business is finally making its big debut, with eHarmony rolling out the red carpet for a select cadre of recruiting intelligentsia at the product’s premiere this week.
Disclaimer: I was not among those selected. My blog was, so long as I wasn’t the person providing coverage – and they explicitly told my publisher that before offering to fly someone out to the Beverly Hills Hotel for a boondoggle and meeting with the Doctor of Love as an inducement, which, of course, is kind of out of bounds for anyone accepting a “press pass.” Analysts, apparently, are another story.
My exclusion, at the very least, eHarmony is doing something right when it comes to knocking out those people who just aren’t compatible, because I can’t think of a single product that I could possibly hate more than Elevated Careers by eHarmony. That includes LinkedIn, for the record.
Those guys are at least intentionally malicious instead of dangerously clueless, and for some reason, I find that almost reassuring by comparison.
I’m pretty confident that almost every candidate and recruiter out there is going to agree with me. This has to be an early April Fool’s Joke, because there’s really no way that a company with a relatively long and successful tech track record could ever think this would work. I suppose I’m still waiting for the punchline, but whatever the hell it is, it’s really not funny.
It’s kind of sad how even what’s more or less Tinder for Old People thinks so little of recruiting and talent acquisition professionals they’d even try to put out such a half-baked piece of shit product, much less actually put their brand behind the biggest recruiting bomb this side of Branchout.
Apparently, though, like the rest of the world, eHarmony thinks we’re just a bunch of idiots. Why anyone would ever buy from a vendor who clearly thinks so little of them that they think they’ll buy into this crap should be enough to dissuade anyone from actually doing business with these people.
But then again, video interviewing has somehow become a billion dollar category, so what the hell do I know?
I do know that I feel a little duped for buying into the buzz and believing the eHarmony hype (at least at first), operating under the clearly erroneous assumption that maybe, just maybe, they might have actually built some cool, useful tech that could somehow make recruiters’ lives a little easier.
Instead, they’ve released what looks to be the biggest piece of vaporware since the Duke Nukem series or BeKnown by Monster. I’m actually not upset, or angry about the direction of this once promising product’s roadmap to nowhere, surprisingly. I’m just disappointed, I guess.
Three years of product development apparently gets you a bunch of scraped from SimplyHired (most of which were no longer actually active – which is apropos when you’re aggregating an aggregator), a partnership with Burning Glass, which means the tech isn’t even sophisticated enough to do its own parsing (which ain’t hard), and a personality quiz that belongs more on Buzzfeed than as a B2B selection tool.
One thing Elevated Careers doesn’t actually do, however, is use eHarmony data. At all. In fact, rather than leverage the inherent competitive advantage that comes with the billions of historic data points and compatibility data the company is touting as part of its move into the job search space, Elevated Careers is applying more or less the same methodology as the eHarmony consumer site, but starting from square one as far as data sets are concerned.
Love the Way You Lie.
A PR rep at eHarmony confirmed that any compliance concerns related to stuff like the fact eHarmony has historically separated out gay and lesbian users so that the Sodomites don’t sully their matching data (an obvious EOE/AA violation) are moot. The reason is that eHarmony is expanding its potential LOBs, but at the same time, more or less outlicensing its name to an unproven algorithm that has so little data my top matching job, according to their job engine, was for a Director, Dry Eyes position in the R&D group at Alcon. Unless somehow the machine knew I was stoned, let’s just say their stack ranking product is about as effective at finding fits as Klout is at actually showing influence.
Of course, the compliance violations around OFCCP (both in terms of documentation and process) as well as EEOC regulations are still there – it’s just that eHarmony’s historical roots as a homophobic and evangelical Christian dating site aren’t the reason. Rather, it has to do with the fact that the site, for some reason, during the EEOC Compliance questionnaire, actually asks (optional, of course) for candidates to disclose their relationship status, which is about as big a no-no as you can find, compliance wise.
Why a job site needs this data is beyond me, but my guess is that while Elevated Careers isn’t getting anything in from eHarmony, the information their career product is generating is almost surely being used in its consumer product or statistical analysis. The company’s response, according to an analyst in attendance at the product launch, is to point out that any candidate answers are completely optional, but then again, of course, ALL EEOC questionnaires are, by definition, optional.
The difference is Elevated Careers requires candidates to submit their age and gender information (oddly, not race) before being allowed to proceed to the assessment component of the product, and you cannot use the matching tool without first inputting what is, for recruiting purposes, information that candidates aren’t actually required to disclose (employers are just required to ask).
Then we get into the process part; I tried to set up a couple accounts to verify that this product was as shitty as it seemed, and the second time around, I didn’t want to go through that painful questionnaire again, so I just kept hitting “3” to advance me. Soon, I got this warning message:
Yeah. That’s what every candidate wants to hear when vetting potential employers. The obvious allusion to a cartoon character widely held as being offensive in its stereotyping of Latinos and Latinas are just the icing on the cake. Someone probably thought they were being cute, but when I waited a really long time between questions, I never got “Hey, Someone Must Be Taking A Siesta!” message. I just got logged out of the system.
This could be an everlasting love, but I’d be surprised if this was more than a one night stand. Not even the type you regret forever; just a little shame after you’re spent, maybe. But just like you wouldn’t take gutter trash home to meet your mother, this is one tool you probably shouldn’t try building an internal business case for.
Unless, of course, you want to be accountable for the results of adding a 40 minute personality and skills assessment on top of your 40 minute long apply process – and if you want to stay on salary, trust me when I say you’d be smart to stay way the hell away from this one – just like any qualified candidate you could conceivably be looking for.
Elevated Careers is a prescreening tool just like a University of Phoenix MBA makes you minimally qualified for an FP&A job – all you’ve done is prove that you know how to piss away money without actually adjudicating ROI or critical thinking. Do you really want to go out as the guy (or gal) who fought to buy that eHarmony recruiting product? The one that we’ll all be laughing about in a couple quarters?
Yeah, didn’t think so.
The above is my opinion, and should not be construed as me being a “real journalist.” Also, this is my blog, so I don’t actually have to use facts or be fair. That stuff I can do at my day job, which, by the way, I won’t be covering this product as it’s not newsworthy, like, at all. Or not yet, anyway.