“We interviewed Parker Conrad in November about Zenefits, building a startup, and where he saw the industry going. One of the points Parker made during the conversation was that insurance brokers will be gone in 10 years.
Whether it will be Zenefits or someone else, technology does seem to regularly ruin the business of middlemen, and so this seems like a rational bet.”
This is 100% true, but the key is making sure that you replace the right middleman, the right piece of the puzzle, and keep intact the parts that humans do better.
This is one of the things we talk about a lot around here, since we’re in the business of replacing at least one middleman in the process of tech hiring (the external recruiter to name one, sorry guys!).
Philosophically speaking, we think hiring talent is one of the most crucial and important processes a company is responsible for. To downplay it, to “make it go away” or to “hand it off” would be out of the question. This isn’t robo-hiring.
But the reality is that there are portions of the hiring process that are inefficient, shouldn’t require the amount of human bandwidth they currently take up, and are not in need of human input to complete. For us, it’s the initial stage of finding and connecting to high-quality tech talent that’s the right fit for an open role.
Think of this: most current hiring processes start with hiring managers sitting down with either a pile of resumes to cull through, doing a massive online search for candidates, paying handsomely for a third-party to do so, or a combo of all of these. The tedious work of then whittling that pile down to the small handful of people qualified enough to ask in for an interview is exhausting.
But the interview is the part hiring managers want to get to, and quickly. Isn’t it a huge bummer they have to trudge through this first stage to get to the important part? And the bigger questions are do their human actions in the first stage provide a real value-add to the overall process, and is there an alternative that is equal to or better at getting this done?
For us, the answer is no, and yes respectively. No, there is no value-add by having humans conduct this part of the process over other options. Yes, machine learning algorithms can do a better job at finding the best match for a position.
What happens once those matches are made? Humans ask other humans to interview for an open position, and then one human hires another. They just got to that point sooner and likely with higher quality matching than the above alternative.
So what does this mean for other processes that currently require middlemen?
- Determine if there’s a point in the process where humans are both inefficient and do not add significant-enough value (as opposed to other options)
- Determine if there’s a technological substitute for that piece of the process that allows you to free up human time for where it has a larger value-add, or cut it altogether
Middlemen should be taken out of the process if they provide no value or efficiencies. But this should always be done along with keeping the key, irreplaceable human pieces of the puzzle intact.