New Tech May Help Recruiters Get More Value from Academic Records

By Dave Zielinski March 30, 2020
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man looking at transcripts

​Recruiters and hiring managers have long relied on the timely verification of academic transcripts as a key factor in evaluating and hiring college graduates. Whether conducted by recruiting teams or by background screening providers, most often through a national clearinghouse, these assessments seek to confirm the truthfulness of information offered by graduates, such as school attended, degree received and date of completion.

New technology providers are promising to bring new value to that verification and evaluation process by making it easier to digitize or access academic transcript data, thus giving greater insight into how graduates performed in school. These providers also hope to use graduates' academic performance as a way to help companies better shape training plans and career paths for new employees once they're hired.

Standardizing Transcript Formats and Evaluating Records

One company offering such a platform is MeasureOne in San Francisco. The company uses an application programming interface (API) to give recruiters access to a single source of standardized, digitized data from across educational institutions that can be integrated with an existing recruiting or HR technology platform.

MeasureOne believes it can resolve some of the challenges recruiters face related to lack of uniformity in academic transcript data. Different schools often have different grading systems, vocabulary and credit systems. Academic records also are often presented in different formats such as PDF files, HTML pages or scanned images.

Elan Amir, CEO of MeasureOne, said the company's API can make it easier for recruiters to access, extract and "normalize" academic data for use and evaluation, allowing for more-efficient comparison of that data across different academic institutions. Amir also said the technology can give recruiters a deeper level of insight into how new graduates performed in school. 

"Recruiters have always been able to conduct degree or enrollment verification but haven't been able to easily access a full transcript with things like courses taken and grades received," he said. "Search features and filters in the platform allow them to look for graduates who, for example, might have taken at least four semesters of computer science or have taken other courses directly relevant to jobs."

The platform uses a "student opt-in" feature to accommodate the growing movement toward allowing job candidates to create "self-sovereign" digital identities. These identities employ technologies like blockchain to give candidates more control over who can see and use their consolidated career credentials.

"No academic data is released without the full consent of students, and the platform is structured around giving students an interface by which they can easily provide that consent and credentials to recruiters who ask for it," Amir said. Once students provide consent, they enter information about their school and academic records on the MeasureOne platform. MeasureOne then gains access to that academic record, extracts the data, normalizes it and delivers it to a recruiter's platform via the API in a searchable format.

"In this age of growing data privacy concerns, we feel sentiment is shifting in the direction of allowing job candidates to own their career credentials," Amir said.

Will Recruiters Find Value in the Technology?

Recruiting professionals and background screening providers have mixed views on the value that such technology can bring to the hiring process. 

"Anything that makes candidates' backgrounds more transparent and authentic is a good thing," said Chris Russell, managing director of RecTech Media, a recruiting consulting company in Trumbull, Conn. But Russell also questions how much value recruiters would place on the ability to access graduates' individual classes or grades on academic transcripts. "As long as degrees can be verified, that's what most companies want to confirm," he said.

Michael Rochelle, chief strategy officer and principal HCM analyst for the Brandon Hall Group in Delray Beach, Fla., believes such technology platforms can create efficiencies if used in the right ways. "Campus recruiting has grown as a priority for many organizations," he said, "and creating a scalable process with technology is of high interest to them."

Recruiters are also interested in how artificial intelligence and robotic process automation might be used in such technologies to assist in making decisions about job candidates, Rochelle said. "Such tools can handle multiple candidate parameters at once to help create the best match for organizations."

Background screening providers also are potential beneficiaries of such technology since they're often asked by clients to verify educational degrees of job candidates.

"Typically degree verification is what companies care most about, which is why we offer our education verification services," said Max Wesman, chief operating officer for background screening provider GoodHire in Redwood Shores, Calif. But Wesman said GoodHire has yet to see strong demand from clients for micro-services like an ability to access individual classes taken or grades received by candidates on academic transcripts.

Dave Zielinski is a freelance business writer and editor in Minneapolis.

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