The Technology Strategy Board which advices on effective and  powerful IT developments recently interviewed Geoff Newman, chief executive of Recruitment Genius to discuss how we embrace cutting-edge technology to process so many job applications and keep thousands of customers happy.

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You know your new product idea is hitting a nerve when you have to hire bodyguards to prevent the competition from beating you up.

Geoff Newman set up Recruitment Genius because he spotted a way to offer recruitment advertising at a hugely reduced price. By buying up hundreds of job boards (for reasonable prices, due to an over-supplied marketplace), he can offer to post ads on all, or many, of them and then vet responses and only send the most interesting on to the would-be employer. All for £199. When you consider that the average placement by a recruitment consultant costs over £4000 it‟s clear why Recruitment Genius is gaining clients – and unfortunately the odd flying fist at tradeshows.

“It‟s a drastically different approach,” Newman says. It would also have been a very easy-to-copy one if Recruitment Genius hadn‟t created a „barrier to entry‟ to other companies by buying up vast swathes of the UK‟s job boards to keep for itself: over 700 sites have been bought to date.

All of those boards, of course, came with their own software and operating systems, and amalgamating them has been a serious challenge for the firm. But it has been made possible by gradually ending all of their current hosting contracts – when they finished, or through negotiations with suppliers – and migrating them all onto a cloud based system provided by ElasticHosts.

ElasticHosts is a cloud hosting and cloud computing service based in the wonderfully named Crumpsbrook, Cleobury Mortimer, Worcestershire. The company‟s founders, Chris Webb and Richard Davies, first met in 1995 when they were both medallists at the International Physics Olympiad, representing Britain. In 1998, whilst studying Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, they founded their first web hosting company Arachsys Internet Services, and started the development of many of the technologies that they use in ElasticHosts today. Scalable cloud hosting is available from 4 pence an hour, or £29 a month.

“We chose ElasticHosts because of their flexibility. We had these different operating systems and, also, when you buy a business you never truly know what site traffic is going to be like – so we needed something that could scale as we needed it,” he says.

“Also, there are no long term contracts with ElasticHosts. We could drop down to fewer servers as we migrated each board to our own standardised software. We’ve been able to use some very clever programming techniques to reduce the resources we need. With a traditional hosting provider we‟d have been tied into a 12 month contract – so this has been absolutely brilliant. And we‟re still finding little things that we don‟t need any more and saving money here and there – it‟s a very interesting business model,” Newman says.

Another benefit of ElasticHosts is that Google can pick up on server location – so that UK customers are directed to UK sites, and Recruitment Genius‟ US customers go to relevant US sites.

Companies often struggle with posting job adverts online, because of the volume of responses that come back. “It‟s too easy to apply online, and so everyone does – and companies are swamped with responses. It takes a lot of time to filter them, and write letters declining people – and so we‟ve automated a large part of that with algorithms that work out things like whether people are within commutable distance from the job, and measure keyword density in CVs. These then go to a person for a final, „human‟ review. We only pass on the relevant applications to the company,” he says. All applicants receive an automated letter of receipt – and another letter if they are rejected: something that Newman says has really hit a chord. “We get people writing just to say thank you for letting them know.”

The company also doesn‟t charge per person hired, but per seven-day period, which makes an enormous difference to clients like Tesco and Shell who are hiring large numbers of people at once.

Recruitment Genius is now processing an application every 0.4 seconds, and helps fill an average of 195 jobs a day. And that has brought its own problems, with staff attacked three times already at trade shows. “Recruitment companies just hate us. Hence the bodyguard. I like it – it makes me laugh,” Newman says.

“ElasticHosts’ service has been strategically important to Recruitment Genius,” Newman says. “We feel confident they can manage our growing requirements and will continue to recommend them.”

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