The Australian - Xref offers digital fix for hiring pain point

Posted on 05 Jul 2016 by Laura Johnson

The human resources sector has turned out be a fertile one for disruption with almost every aspect of the traditional model affected by the influx of technology.

From new tools, to hire, to managing and getting the most out of the workforce, there’s a digital solution out there.

This in turn has led to an explosion of HR technology start-ups with quite a few of them — local and overseas — moving to the ASX in search of funding.

Melbourne HR tech start-up LiveHire hit the market in June raising $10 million through an IPO that valued the company at $40m.

Sydney-based Reffind made its debut in July 2015 and San Francisco-based online recruiter 1-Page tapped the Australian market in 2014.

After a solid pop most of the outfits have found it tough to translate their potential into the sort of value investors appreciate.

1-Page shares, which listed at 20c and subsequently soared to a peak of $5.69, have had their wings clipped, Reffind has found itself in strife, and LiveHire hasn’t set the market alight.

The early investor exuberance may have dissipated but ASX-listed cloud-based, secure-referencing platform Xref is confident that it has what it takes to not only weather the storm but also keep growing.

The confidence is underpinned by the fact the company is solving a key HR pain point.

Xref’s platform automates the reference-checking process that involves collecting data from an employer, candidate and referee.

Candidate reference checking is a critical facet of hiring and it has traditionally been a slow, costly analog process. Xref makes the candidate the driver, which speeds up the automated process exponentially, and protects employers from the risks of manual phone-based referencing.

The promise is to save businesses time but also deliver better quality data and benchmarking to ensure better hiring decisions are made.

“We are not in the nice-to-have bucket, we are in the business-critical side of the ledger, “ Xref founder Lee-Martin Seymour said.

“You cannot hire someone without checking their history and probing if they are fit for the job you are hiring them for, and that’s an arduous task.”

Launched in 2011, Xref listed in February through a reverse takeover of King Solomon’s Mines. Xref raised $4m from a capital raising to grow its client base to 300 and has so far managed to keep its head above water.

The stock listed at 20c, hit a high of 71c and is currently tracking around 58c.

“Our listing was purely because the opportunity in front of us outweighed our cashflow,” Mr Seymour said.

“We have a high-growth sustainable cash-positive business but we raised the capital because we wanted to go global and we wanted to build one seamless environment.”

Mr Seymour said he’s not worried about the vagaries of the stock and that the fundamentals of the Xref business provide a lot of upside in the long run.

“To be honest, it’s not the central focus for me or the business.

“We are focused on our business and as long as we look after our customers and listen to them the rest will take care of itself.”

The capital raised in February has helped Xref integrate its platform with application tracking services providers across the globe and also leverage what is potentially the next big-growth driver for the company.

That driver is its growing treasure trove of pre- and post-hire data that Xref says can deliver significant value to its clients when making hiring decisions.

With more than 500,000 people changing jobs on an annual basis, Xref says it’s on the leading edge of employment trends in Australia, in real time.

As the company now completes tens of thousands of references per year, it can extract ever-more-valuable insights into the Australian jobs market in different sectors, months before any government body can.

According to Mr Seymour, the data on the Xref platform can be used to remedy other pain points in the hiring process.

“There’s a big difference between a jobseeker and a passive applicant,” he said. “And large enterprises really look for passive seekers for the big jobs.

“I think for a lot of the solutions, job boards are missing the point on finding this type of candidate. Our clients are using the platform to find passively connected candidates and it’s working really well. They are using the free data available on it to service their need.

“Another pain point is job readiness.

“A lot of new hires aren’t job ready and a lot of the checks happen after they have started. That’s something that can be tackled more efficiently,” he said.

Original article - http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/technology/hr-tech-disruptor-checks-references/news-story/08b1d9f51ffcf54cfe7fcdd290db1980

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