Sense raises $ 50 million to bolster AI recruitment efforts

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Recruitment is a major concern for companies in 2021. In a survey conducted by XpertHR, about half of responding employers plan to increase their workforce by 2021, but expect obstacles to stand in the way. A large number of low-quality applicants hinder the search for the ideal candidates, with one source setting the average number of unqualified applicants at 75%. Even among those who do once they get through the recruitment funnel, a significant portion eventually change their minds – exacerbating the recruitment challenge.

Against this background, Sense, an “AI-driven” talent engagement and communications platform, announced today that it raised $ 50 million in Series D funding led by SoftBank. CEO Anil Dharni says the proceeds, which bring Sense’s total capital to $ 90 million, will be used for hiring and recruiting as well as product development.

AI-informed recruitment

San Francisco, California-based Sense was launched in 2016 by Dharni, Alex Rosen, Pankaj Jindal and Ram Gudavalli. Dharni is an active entrepreneur who helped found AnswerU and the social gaming networks Storm8 and Funzio before starting Sense. Jindal was previously CEO of Akraya, an IT and marketing consulting firm headquartered in Bengaluru. As for Gudavalli, he co-founded Funzio with Dharni and worked with him on Hi5, a social network whose parent company was acquired by MeetMe in 2017 for $ 60 million.

“In the last decade, we have seen a shift in the dynamics of the workforce. Candidates have more opportunities and subsequently more power than ever before… And yet recruiters and hiring teams are still stuck in the dark ages when it comes to creating the ultimate graduate experience,” told Dharni to VentureBeat via email. “I want to create a world where recruitment managers and talent acquisition leaders are loved by the candidates they serve. The bottom line is that companies are fighting in a massive way to retain and engage with employees. “

Feeling

Sense offers a range of job candidate matching and screening services in addition to a drag-and-drop tool for creating recruiting campaigns. With the platform’s services, which are synchronized with Workday, Greenhouse and other existing applicant tracking systems, companies can deduplicate pools of new applicants against existing databases and send targeted follow-up messages, among other tasks.

Sense also provides a shared inbox through which HR teams can manage and prioritize candidate conversations, sort and view chats, and perform name, name, and tag searches. For companies that offer referral programs, Sense can host a dashboard that shows vacancies and allows employees to submit referrals and track where they are in the hiring process. Managers can use the dashboard on the backend to manage submissions, approvals, rewards and payouts.

Sense says that algorithms have been developed that can automatically trigger messages and workflows based on a candidate’s profile data, or when they complete a specific action in a journey. The platform’s email and SMS feature for candidates – which can send messages to up to hundreds of candidates at once – can optionally automate messages with personalized texts that answer questions, explain benefits and provide status updates on hiring.

In September, Sense launched a chatbot that sources and screens candidates by answering questions when recruiters are offline. Part of the company’s larger platform, chatbot can schedule interviews and support “database activation” through proactive candidate-seeking contact.

Feeling

Sense says the chatbot’s design was based on its own research, including a recent study it conducted on strategies for recruiting success. The survey, which included 600 managers at staffing agencies, showed that recruiters spend up to 50% of their time on manual and repetitive tasks and on average take over 6 hours to respond to new leads.

A growing market

There is no shortage of platforms that claim to utilize AI to speed up the hiring and recruitment process. For example, Xor is developing a chatbot that handles recruitment and screening processes for job candidates, and Celential.ai – which focuses specifically on the software industry – uses models to match candidates with open roles.

Other Sense competitors include Wade & Wendy, Workey and Phenom People, but Dharni believes there is plenty of business to go around in the $ 19.38 billion HR solutions market. Sense’s customers include teams at Amazon, Volt, PrideStaff and Sears.

“We have over 350 million candidate profiles across over 600 clients. [T]Thousands of recruiters use Sense every day to interact and converse with millions of candidates every month, ”said Dharni. “The pandemic has accelerated investment in recruitment technology and the introduction of Sense. It has made companies pulsate [and] Examine employees more frequently to proactively understand employees’ challenges and solve them. It has [also] operated competitive recruitment and contingent recruitment. As a result of the pandemic, outbound communications and engagement through our platform grew by 500%. “

According to Alexander Mann Solutions, 96% of senior HR professionals believe that AI has the potential to “significantly improve” talent acquisition – despite claims by some proponents that these tools can perpetuate inequality in hiring processes. A number of reports, including the Hidden Workers: Untapped Talent survey, have raised concerns about potential biases arising from the use of AI in recruitment.

Via email, Gartner Research VP Helen Poitevin told VentureBeat that there is inherently less risk of AI bias in the “top of the funnel” recruitment activity as the kind Sense orchestrates. That does not mean there is no risk – Poitevin stressed the need for companies like Sense (and their customers) to be aware of the data used and the assumptions built into the candidate-to-job matching algorithms . But human biases are more likely to come into play with these types of solutions, she argued, as biases in the language used to describe positions or the tone of outreach.

“When I look at Sense’s website, I can see that they are being used to engage, send messages, manage referrals and engage with candidates through a chatbot. This is akin to other solutions on the market that are more oriented towards candidate relationship management and recruitment marketing and engaging with graduates, ”Poitevin said. “The risk is not as high as when AI is used to rank a candidate’s suitability for a given job opportunity … For example, a recruiter who is merely interested in a profile is not considered a robust assumption in an algorithm that determines “what makes a good match between a candidate and a job. These types of data and assumptions built into algorithms are much more likely to lead to biased decision-making in the hiring process.”

Sense has 185 employees, a number it expects to double by the end of 2022.

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