Düsseldorf Sebastian Dettmers already knows that the number of unemployed will fall below 2.8 million at the end of October. On his LinkedIn profile, Dettmers has been predicting the unemployment figures every month for a while – and always deviates only minimally from the official data. However, Dettmers is not a fortune teller, but the boss of the Stepstone job platform.
What is a little joke for Dettmers has a business background: Stepstone learns a lot about the job market from the data that companies and job seekers leave on the platform. The Düsseldorf-based company now wants to use this increasingly for job placement.
Through the use of artificial intelligence (AI), applicants and companies should find each other better on the platform in the future, announced Dettmers in an interview with the Handelsblatt. He calls this “autonomous matching”.
From the point of view of the 41-year-old, this is urgently needed: “Most people make the wrong decision when choosing a career.” The consulting firm Gallup has also come to the conclusion for years that around 70 percent of employees only work according to regulations. “Especially in uncertain times, many people are reluctant to look for a job, even though they are unhappy with their job,” says Dettmers.
With the help of AI, Stepstone wants to at least make it easier for applicants to find a new job. To do this, users have to set up a profile on the portal, where they can post work experience, training, knowledge and their résumé. Based on this and the search history, for example by industry, company size and place of work, the algorithm suggests to the user those job advertisements that should fit particularly well.
Job seekers will soon also receive salary information
In the coming year, the job exchange should also display the salary that applicants should expect for each job. Stepstone calculates this based on the position, the industry and the company. The provider has a database with three million salary entries after the takeover of the platform salary.de.
On the company side, after they have posted a job advertisement, all companies will in future be sent a list of particularly well-suited candidates compiled by the algorithm. Stepstone is currently testing the procedure in Great Britain, and this function should also be available in this country in the coming year.
The AI-based evaluation of the profile and improved “matching” – for the job exchange expert Wolfgang Brickwedde, Stepstone is “pretty far ahead”. The director of the Institute for Competitive Recruiting in Heidelberg says: “A job exchange is particularly attractive for companies if it does not show a particularly large number of job prospects, but the most suitable ones.” The Stepstone approach also increases the accuracy of the job for job seekers.
Brickwedde sees a problem, however: studies show that 40 percent of applicants would have reservations if they had to divulge their data for better search results. “The idea is good, but it’s also a question of culture.” In Germany in particular, many users are rather skeptical when they have to enter data in online profiles.
This can also be seen in the Stepstone user numbers: In Great Britain, 20 million people have already created a profile, in Germany there are just six million. And no AI works without data. Stepstone boss Dettmers therefore promises users: “We only use the data to ensure that people find the right job.”
The importance of the use of AI for Stepstone can also be seen in the number of employees. 1000 of the 3600 employees worldwide work in the field of big data and machine learning.
Stepstone wants to assert itself against competitor Google
Stepstone’s new offensive should also be a reaction to Google’s entry into the market. In spring 2019, the IT giant launched its Google for Jobs service in Germany. When users enter a job title and the keyword “job” or “position” in Google search, the search engine displays vacancies prominently in their results.
These are read from career pages or job boards. Anyone who clicks on the job advertisements will be forwarded directly to the company’s website. The result: job exchanges could become less important.
Stepstone does not make its job advertisements available for Google’s job search and already filed a lawsuit with the EU Commission in 2019. The company justifies this with the abuse of its dominant position. Manager Dettmers complains that the organic reach via Google has decreased. Overall, however, the decline was more than compensated for through own efforts, for example in the area of social networks.
This could also be due to the fact that the job portal has been actively advertising in football stadiums, bus stops, newspapers and TV advertisements since the beginning of the year. So far, it has mainly been the competitor Indeed that had wrestled for attention. The increased advertising can also be explained by the changed ownership structure at the Stepstone parent company Axel Springer.
Since the entry of the major US investor KKR, the media company has focused more on digital content such as Stepstone or the real estate portal Immonet. “For us, joining KKR is a stroke of luck. Advertising on this scale would not have been possible before, ”says Dettmers. This year, Stepstone has spent tens of millions on advertising, according to Dettmers.
Stepstone claims to have over 16 million visitors a month. They are currently seeing a particularly large number of vacancies in the area of e-commerce. Due to the crisis, jobs in the areas of events and the hotel industry are rarely advertised.
Dettmers himself, who has been head of Stepstone since the beginning of the year and previously worked there as Managing Director for eight years, does not want to go looking for a job for the time being. “There is nothing better than finding a job for people that really suits them.” Dettmers may soon be able to do this as well as predicting unemployment through AI.
More: Stepstone puts millions into branding.