Simplifying Job Recruitment in the Philippines

With a favorable business climate and an abundance of creative, easily adaptable workforce, the Philippines has become the number one hub for the growing industry of business process outsourcing (BPO).  Just last year, the BPO industry posted an 18.7-percent growth in revenue, giving employment to some 1.03 million Filipinos.

Still, with all the favorable hype about the BPO industry in the Philippines, one challenge remains: “it was hard for jobseekers to find the right jobs for them, and for companies to hire the people with the right skills,” as Filipino-American Paul Rivera once recalled in an interview with Tech in Asia.

The prevalent issue of job mismatch among the Filipino workforce, as well as “old-fashioned” recruitment methods, is now proving to be a handicap in the growing BPO industry in the country. And Rivera and his team seek to change all that with tech start-up Kalibrr.com, an online job platform that aims at redefining recruitment systems in the country.

 

Opportunity Knocks

Rivera, a child of Filipino immigrants who moved to the United States when he was five years old, was, by his own admission to Rappler.com, a “big introvert,” more comfortable in the virtual world of the Internet. During his high school days, he would engage on virtual chats with other people through AOL, with some sessions lasting for as long as eight hours. It was that experience that served as the basis for Rivera’s drive to make Kaibrr.com a success.

Soon after graduating college, Rivera immediately seized the opportunity to travel – that is, through his job to set up the customer service support team of the Mercantila chain of specialty stores in the United States. "I learned everything about running a team and setting up a company there. From running operations, to product development, to hiring and training a team, I had to figure things out for myself at age 22," he once related.

By 2006, Rivera was working at tech giant Google, which, according to Rappler, opened his eyes to a different side of technology. "Google is a company with massive resources. Unlimited food, pop-up concerts, crazy bonuses, very smart people, you knew that this was a company that had the resources to change the world."

But six months later another opportunity presented itself: a chance to set up his own business in his home country. Rivera seized the chance, and soon he found himself running a BPO company called Open Access. It was while running Open Access that he discovered one of the glaring gaps in the country’s BPO industry: the “flawed” hiring process of most BPO companies. 

Then one night, he got together with another Fil-Am – Dexter Ligot-Gordon, whom he had studied with at the University of California-Berkeley – and the seeds of Kalibrr were sown. “When we saw each other, that connection we had about impact was re-sparked. This was the night that we decided to make a commitment to help jumpstart the Philippine economy,” Rivera told Tech in Asia. It during that fateful dinner that they formulated their one unique idea: a platform that will revolutionize recruitment in the country.

 

Easier Job Hunting

As a cloud-based platform, Kalibrr assesses applicants and matches them to the right jobs, and if they lack certain skills, trains them. While it may sound at first like any normal recruitment platform, Kalibrr seeks to disrupt the old recruitment systems by bringing new innovations.

One big advantage for companies is that job postings – as well as candidate search – on the platform are free. 

What they do charge for is a company’s ability to communicate with a candidate when the company “accepts” the candidate’s application – and even that charge is low, at P50 per candidate. “We’re the only platform that allows companies to do this. Others are very protective of their database. We want to open it up,” Ligot-Gordon, now Kalibrr’s chief operating officer, told Tech in Asia. “We’re here to disrupt and tear apart what existed before. The old systems of recruitment are dead.”

Another unique feature that had made Kalibrr a success is its two-way SMS messaging system. When a company finds a candidate who best fits their requirements and qualifications, all they would do is to simply communicate with the person through text messaging. “When we were working with jobseekers before, we discovered that they check their emails twice a week, but with SMS, it’s every 15 minutes. We’re all attached to our mobile devices.” 

Since its online launch in 2014, Kalibrr has amassed more than 65,000 active jobseekers, and 3,000 companies, including Globe Telecom, Coca-Cola, San Miguel Corp., Ayala Corp., Security Bank, Teleperformance and Accenture. Several government agencies such as the Department of Finance, Department of Transportation and Communications, Department of Education, and Bureau of Internal Revenue have also jumped on the chance to employ Kalibrr as their recruitment platform. “By the end of the year [2015], we’ll have one million jobseekers and 20,000 companies,” Ligot-Gordon predicted.

Rivera also said that with Kalibrr, they are addressing a huge pain in the employment process, but more importantly, doing their part in nation-building. “In the Philippines, there are hundred million people, 14 million are employed yet 25 percent of this number are underemployed. 10 million Filipinos are abroad to work. We have a big economy, but also a lot of challenges. [Recruitment] is the challenge that Kalibrr wants to take.”

Rivera now plans to diversify Kalibrr’s platform, with its focus on building its base of jobseekers and employers as well as exploring other ventures aside fro job-recruiting. “A jobseeker has other needs – a car, a house, access to financial products. It’s crazy but we can be a platform for all those,” Rivera had once quipped. (TechinAsia.com; Rappler.com)

 

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