After four long years in the recruitment industry, Brandon Lee knew that there was a problem that needed to be solved. So, in July 2013, he took on the role of CEO, roped in Nicholas Chan as Chief Technology Officer and started OpenRecruiters, a Singapore-based online platform that helps streamline the process of hiring for recruiting agents.
The problem, according to Lee, was that recruiters are often swamped with processes that can be automated, like coming up with contracts, shortlisting candidates, and bidding for clients instead of having to scour for them manually.
He stated that recruiters can now choose from standardised contracts and negotiate openly within days, which earlier used to take place over weeks. “The recruiter should be out there, talking to candidates,” he added. However, one thing to note is that before the recruiters can even bid for a project, they will need to be able to list two or more candidates for the job.
At the moment, there are a rising number of jobs boards for candidates and employers to seek out each other. However, OpenRecruiters is not one of those. Candidates are not allowed to write in directly, as recruiters will be the bridge between them and the prospective employer.
While there is no cost for the employer to upload a job vacancy to the platform, they will have to pay the recruitment agency a flat fee, which would have been set at the start, once the placement has been made successful. The fee will be paid through OpenRecruiters.
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In Singapore, the startup has more than 300 recruiters as users on the platform. “We’re moving into Asia as well. In some places like Myanmar, they need … agents from elsewhere, like Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia,” said Lee.
In conversation with e27, Jon Tanner, Partner, MitchelLake Group, an Australia-based management recruitment firm, said that the headhunting cycle varies according to location and job scope. For example, while the same cycle might take four months in San Francisco, US, it might only take the same recruiter two to three months to close the deal in another part of the world. Similarly, a job in a competitive industry like open source engineering will take longer to close than say, a secretary.
According to Lee and Chan, the startup has recently closed a S$110,000 (about US$87,000) funding round with Media Development Authority’s iJAM scheme, Singapore-based incubator Crystal Horse Investments, and private investors. The duo is also raising a new round of investments, but have no definitive amount as of yet.
UPDATE: Singapore-based Strategia Ventures, led by Ben Chew, is also an investor in OpenRecruiters.
Can’t employers use LinkedIn?
“If you are part of HR (Human Resources) and have a hundred jobs to fill, would you want to spend your time going through LinkedIn to find (suitable candidates)?” asked Chan, rhetorically. He added, “That’s not your job. That’s where the recruitment agencies come in.”
He also noted that since recruiters follow the markets they headhunt for rather closely, they know the ‘who’s who’ in the scene, who’s leaving and who’s not. “The employee is someone who is going to focus on his or her work,” said Chan. These staffers may not even use LinkedIn, since they are often in demand and are usually headhunted even before they have time to post a status on the jobs platform.
He asked again, “Do you think a researcher will spend all his time updating his LinkedIn status? Probably not. You will not find the best employees on LinkedIn alone.”
While OpenRecruiters feel that the masses and most recruiters will not be using LinkedIn all too frequently any time now, Chan stated that it might happen in the future. In the meantime, the startup is looking to expand overseas, and strengthen its position locally.