‘Blockchain cuts out the middleman – recruitment agencies’ days are numbered’
17 April 2018

‘Blockchain cuts out the middleman – recruitment agencies’ days are numbered’


Cathryn Newbery

Cathryn Newbery

Cathryn Newbery is head of content and community at Ciphr. She was previously deputy editor at People Management magazine. You can find her on Twitter @c_newbery.


Co-owner of Job.com Arran Stewart explains why blockchain makes it quicker and cheaper to hire, and gives workers more control over their own career  

While many HR software companies are still trying to figure out their blockchain from their Bitcoin, Job.com co-owner Arran Stewart has gone all-in on the new technology, relaunching the job board with blockchain technology earlier this year. Now living in the US, the British ex-pat – and former recruitment consultant – explains what makes his website stand out from the crowded job platform market; why the days of recruitment agencies and high commission fees are numbered; and his biggest bugbears about job seekers.

How does Job.com make use of blockchain technology?

Blockchain enables you to decentralise and it removes intermediaries which, in the recruitment process, is typically the recruitment agency. We’ve created a peer-to-peer platform on a secure ledger that allows all the contractual processes to be monitored, securely stored, and verified through a blockchain application, which enables us to remove the middleman from the hiring process.

This means that, instead of the employer paying us a 20% fee, we only charge a 6% fee. And the really exciting bit is that we give 83% of that fee – so 4% of your salary – to the candidate as a signing bonus after their first 90 days. The bonus is paid via a token – a bit like a cryptocurrency – into the candidate’s wallet, and it crystallises the smart contract between you, the candidate, us, and the employer, to say that you have been successfully hired. You can then sell those tokens – either back to us, or on exchanges – to turn it into fiat currency.

How else could blockchain change recruitment as we know it?

Another area that we are exploring is trust within resumes, CVs and references. Blockchain provides a ledger that you can’t tamper with; if you edit it on one machine it gets changed back by another machine because it’s recorded on all the machines . Having a verified record of people’s references, career history and qualifications is where we see the future of blockchain going in the recruitment industry.

It will take time for organisations to adopt the idea of putting all the information about a worker – their experience, skills and refences – online for other employers to use. But when they come to hire a candidate themselves, they will really appreciate a blockchain ledger that is 100% accurate about the candidate.

Will portability be an issue?

I totally see a level of mass integration between all of the major job platforms – just like you can post your CV to multiple sites with a single click, I think that will happen with your blockchain career record. But this won’t be a 12- or 24-month thing – it’ll probably in the next three years that companies really start to take that on board. And it’ll be the major sites that’ll be the first movers, such as Totaljobs, ZipRecruiter and, maybe, Reed.

Are there any other hiring pain points that blockchain might be able to solve?

One of the major flaws in recruitment is the use of intermediaries – recruitment agencies – in communication. Candidates are more than educated enough to deal directly with the employer who is looking to hire them; they don’t need to communicate via a third party. It just adds a day or two to the hiring process.

And speed matters. The average time to hire in the US is 39 days. Fortune 500 companies calculate the amount of revenue they make per employee per year, so if the vacancy isn’t filled for 39 days, that’s going to have a massive impact on the bottom line. Providing a blockchain solution that allows an employer and a candidate to deal directly speeds up the process. It might only be a couple of days – shortening the hiring time from 39 to 37 days – but if you multiply that by the number of vacancies per year in big organisations, it makes a massive difference.

Add this increased speed to the cheaper transaction costs involved in hiring using blockchain, and I think we’ll see a consolidation in the recruitment agency market – and quickly. Within the next 24 months, I think the market will have gone completely crypto.

Will blockchain give candidates more control over their careers?

Yes – that’s what I want to do. For many years, it’s been the employer that has held all the cards. But when you look at the hiring process, it’s the candidate who does all the work – who uploads their CV, fills in the application form, and does the interviews. And they get zero out of that other than the job they applied for. It’s the third party, the recruiter, who gets the fee for placing the candidate. And recruiters are notorious for trying to get candidates into a job even if they aren’t right for it, because they want to make their fee. They are driven purely by commission, whereas, for the candidate, choosing a job is about their work-life balance, the benefits, and the pay. If you are willing to sacrifice so much of your time for a job, you should at least do it in the job that gives you the greatest reward.

One of my biggest frustrations with job seekers is that, the second they get a job, they stop looking. But why shouldn’t you be passive? If a job nearer to home, paying more money, came up a week after you started a new job, wouldn’t you want to know? I’m sacrificing my time to earn a living, provide for my family, and have fun at other times. The tools are out there to tell you where you could go and how much more you could earn, or if there is a job that’ll save you an hour on your daily commute. It doesn’t mean you have to leave your job – but it might mean that you can negotiate a pay rise, because that’ll cost your boss less than having to hire and train someone else.

Read this next

‘Blockchain isn’t about making money – it will revolutionise how we work’

Blockchain researcher and HR consultant Andrew Spence on how blockchain technology will shape the future of HR