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How Blockchain Benefits Recruiters, Job Candidates

A group of electronic locks on a circuit board.

​When recruiting system provider Jobvite was looking for a way to make life easier for the recruiters and hiring managers who use its platform, it turned to blockchain technology for an answer.

Jobvite opted to join the Velocity Network Foundation (VNF), a diverse group of organizations, HR technology vendors, employment marketplaces and others that, among other objectives, promotes the use of blockchain to create new efficiencies for recruiters and job candidates.

In simple terms, blockchain is a digital record of transactions in which individual records such as job candidate credentials—or "blocks"—are linked together in a chain. Any transaction added to the chain is validated by multiple computer networks, ensuring each transaction is legitimate. One advantage of the technology, which originated to record transactions made with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, is that information placed on the digital blocks is extremely difficult to alter or hack.

For recruiters, the use of blockchain not only mitigates the risk of resume fraud, but it also can save significant time when verifying such candidate credentials as work experience, skills certifications or academic degrees.

"It enables recruiters to make hiring decisions faster by being able to review all of a candidate's verified credential data upfront in one place," said Andrew Cunsolo, senior director of product management for Jobvite. "It doesn't eliminate the need for all background screening, but it does eliminate a lot of the time recruiters spend manually verifying candidate information."

As nontraditional micro-credentials for skills attainment—badges, for instance—have gained more currency with recruiters, blockchain also provides job candidates with a way to store several credentials in a secure way in a digital ledger, or "wallet." That gives candidates more control over their data and the potential employers that can view their credentials, providing improved data privacy.

Streamlining the Candidate-Screening Process

The ability for recruiters to review trusted, verified credentials on a blockchain also avoids the problem of self-attestation, or relying on candidates to report their own work history, job roles, skills and education in resumes. When recruiters review a candidate's digital wallet, they don't have to contact a candidate's previous employers to verify employment or the National Student Clearinghouse or individual universities to verify degrees.

For example, a job may require a nursing license in a certain state. "Blockchain enables job candidates to share that validated license as part of their credential package upfront with a recruiter," Cunsolo said. "The technology validates the chain of authority to show it's a real license, certification or other credential."

Blockchain can help recruit and onboard nurses in days instead of weeks, experts say.

Cunsolo said Jobvite opted to join the VNF because it promotes innovation in blockchain applications and is vendor-neutral, meaning it doesn't promote the products of its members, who include Cornerstone, Comcast, Kelly Services, Korn Ferry, Oracle, SAP and UKG.

"It's a nonprofit foundation designed to be a place where innovation can happen on top of an open blockchain network," Cunsolo said.

Blockchain Networks and Applications Grow

Other organizations have recently started their own blockchain initiatives and networks, as well. In 2019, vendor Workday launched its blockchain-powered credentialing technology called Credentials, designed to make issuing, managing and verifying digital credentials easier for users.

Background-screening provider InfoMart unveiled a product called Career Wallet that allows job candidates to save and manage their credentials, such as work history or education qualifications, in a digital format. InfoMart verifies all of the information after candidates build their profile on the wallet.

IBM also created its Learning Credential Network (LCN), a consortium of professional and academic organizations that uses blockchain to create permanent, verifiable records of learning and skill certifications for job seekers. Members of the network include the National Student Clearinghouse; VetBloom from Ethos Veterinary Health, a learning ecosystem for the veterinary profession; and a number of universities and community colleges.

The growing use of skills certifications that allow students to pursue careers in technology without requiring a traditional four-year degree helped spur creation of the LCN, said Alex Kaplan, global leader of blockchain and artificial intelligence for industry credentials at IBM.

"As we move toward a more skills-based economy, where employers are becoming as interested in the skills people have as in their academic degrees, a growing challenge is being able to understand and verify the skills people have in a more comprehensive and cohesive way," Kaplan said.

The blockchain technology that undergirds the LCN helps recruiters quickly validate that candidate skills are authentic. "That is particularly important in certain industries where verifying credentials has high stakes," such as in health care, for example, or for jobs on oil rigs, Kaplan said.

The technology also can be used for project assignments for existing employees, Kaplan said. "For many of the projects we have here in IBM's global business services unit, our customers want to know definitively that the people assigned to the project have the certifications or skills needed to perform the project well," he said. "By using blockchain, we can quickly show them verified credentials for those individuals."

Darin Hobbs, director of academic records and credentials at Western Governors University based in Salt Lake City, partnered with the LCN as part of a pilot program to test the use of blockchain with student academic records. "Blockchain is important because it allows achievements and credentials that learners and workers earn to be trusted and verifiable," he said.

Cunsolo said use of blockchain also helps address concerns candidates and employees have about keeping their personal data private and secure.

"In that sense, blockchain is in the vein of recent data-privacy legislation like the [European Union's] GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] and the California Consumer Privacy Act," he said. "Blockchain can actually meet or exceed what's required in some privacy laws by giving more control to people over their own data and credentials."

Dave Zielinski is a freelance writer and editor in Minneapolis.


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