This time last week the Xref team was looking ahead to one last big week before we finally closed off FY17. As I’m sure was the case at a vast majority of offices across Australia, the pressure was on - we had deadlines to meet, finances to settle and...a team eager to cross the finish line.
In the last year Xref has seen phenomenal growth, both in terms of our client portfolio and our global presence. We’ve turned a huge corner, marked by the introduction of our new brand that really encapsulates the maturity of the organisation - but that’s not what really excites us.
Growth and success are great, but they’re just the result of much more important changes and improvements to the value we offer clients, and that’s what really matters.
There have been four major changes to the service our clients have access to in the last 12 months:
1. A focus on candidate and referee experience
A major differentiator of the Xref platform is the candidate’s position at the helm of the process. But rather than looking at it as purely an efficiency improvement, we’re now more focused on the experience our clients can offer candidates, and indeed referees, while they’re using Xref. Professional decisions are increasingly based on the cultural perceptions of a brand. If we’re not helping our clients to maintain or improve brand perception during the recruitment process, we’re not adding the value we promise from day one. The better the user experience, the more data we are able to collect and, ultimately, the better the insight we’re able to offer.
2. Improved application capabilities
That said, the capabilities and functionality of the platform are, of course, an ongoing priority and have also seen some critical improvements in the last 12 months. We now offer multi-language capabilities and are getting ever closer to ensuring users are able to complete the process in any preferred language. The platform is also now fully optimised for mobile devices, giving all users - employers, candidates and referees alike - more freedom in terms of when and where they use it and thus improving reference turnaround times.
3. Broadening our offering through integrations
At the end of 2016, we set out a new growth strategy focused on utlising integrations with like-minded HR tech platforms, to offer clients a more comprehensive suite of recruitment solutions. This year we’ve seen Xref popping up on the marketplaces of Oracle Taleo, Expr3ss!, SmartRecruiters and iCIMS. The organisations we choose to partner and integrate with share the mutual aspirations of a fully adaptable and scalable recruitment offering and, ultimately, to help clients make hiring decisions based on informed insights - it’s our bread and butter but we’re making it better by recognising that our niche solution works best when used alongside other smart recruitment tools.
4. Really understanding the state of reference checking
For six years, we’ve been telling clients about the risks of doing reference checking the old way but, let’s be honest, that can seem a little convenient coming from an alternative reference checking solution provider! In the last year we’ve commissioned two pieces of research, the findings of which have really resonated with the industry. Rather than relying on anecdotal evidence to raise awareness of the issues surrounding poorly conducted references, we now have the evidence to back it up.
What does this all mean? For us, in a nutshell, it means we’ve grown up, we’re talking about ourselves slightly differently, we’re offering more and adding greater value to the market, and we’re even more driven than ever to maximise our client offering. For our clients, it’s business as usual, but better.
And we’re certainly not stopping at where we are today…
We’ve got some big platform improvements, growth plans and new branches to the business up our sleeves, one of which we’re excited to be able to share straight off the starting blocks of the new year.
This year we will be introducing a sentiment analysis algorithm to the platform, which will be introduced to support our tone of voice functionality. We’ve all read or been involved in written conversations that have been interpreted differently by the writer and reader - be it personal text messages or a professional email exchange. Well, the same can apply to referencing feedback.
Although the data currently gathered by the Xref platform offers the level of insight our clients simply could not guarantee with traditional referencing methods, there’s always a chance that the way one person reads and interprets a sentence is entirely different to another. So we’ve made the move to add greater value to the text analysis we offer, with an even smarter, more insightful method of examining reference responses. Built on a year spent teaching a machine how to read text, the Xref Sentiment Algorithm will provide employers with a breakdown of the responses - rating the percentage of the feedback deemed positive, negative and neutral. This functionality delivers another statistic to give employers a sense of the candidate’s professional performance and offer a guide to their suitability for the role.
We’re excited to get that tool in the hands of clients soon, and look forward to seeing the improvements they achieve as a result.
For now, I’ll finish off with a big thank you - to our clients, suppliers and, critically, our people for what has been an extremely successful year. FY17 was huge for Xref but, much like the feeling you get when you find yourself at 1 January with a new calendar year ahead of you, we’re already feeling energised and ready to take on whatever the next 12 months have to throw at us. Things certainly aren’t going to slow down for us and we’ve no doubt they will continue to be exciting, challenging and rewarding.