Restless Bandit Wants to Automate ‘Talent Rediscovery’

Recruiting Search

Restless Bandit, a San Francisco-based firm begun in October 2016, focuses on what it calls talent rediscovery: the idea that employers should spend more time searching for candidates whose profiles are already in their database.

These are people, CEO Steve Goodman observes, who your recruiting and HR teams have already connected with in one way or another, and may have even been a finalist for an earlier role. The point is, the employer already has a relationship with these candidates, and leveraging that relationship only makes sense, especially when the labor market grows tight.

Before founding Restless Bandit, Goodman was a co-founder and CEO of Bright.com, which LinkedIn acquired for $120 million in 2014.

For the large companies Restless Bandit targets, that’s easier said than done. Goodman says its typical customer has 250,000 profiles in its candidate database, and is constantly adding new ones. (Macy’s, for example, has 19 million profiles in hand.) On top of that, many databases are rife with duplication, with one candidate being represented multiple times. Indeed, one of the first things Restless Bandit does with new customers is minimize such duplication.

“Our business premise is that your talent pool data can be aggregated and matched with open roles,” Goodman told HCM Technology Report. While most current tools that manage an enterprise’s candidate data are great for workflow, “they’re not for search,” he said. Streamlining the process of re-connecting employers with the right candidates is at the heart of what Restless Bandit does.

Specifically, the company has developed a series of algorithms that, it claims, “learn your business, your preferences and trends—especially the patterns a human can’t see.” According to its web site the company has put 50,000 hours into analyzing 30 million resumes and applicant profiles along with 120 million job descriptions. At heart, says Goodman, “we’re a data company.”

That may be true, but the company’s product path speaks more of a business that seeks to put data to use rather than simply analyze it or aid decision-making. While Goodman talks a lot about data and how employers can benefit from staying on top of candidates they’ve already been in touch with—the essence of talent rediscovery—Restless Bandit’s marketing materials zero in on automating processes and scaling an employer’s recruiting efforts. On its web site, Restless Bandit positions itself as the recruiting equivalent of marketing platforms like Marketo and sales platforms such as Outreach. While Goodman prefers not to get into specifics, he does allow that Restless Bandit is working on new tools.

Matching and Outreach on Autopilot

Launched in April, the company’s newest feature, Autopilot, is an automatic outreach tool capable of reaching candidates who closely match the needs of a specific role. This outreach doesn’t take the form of a job alert, Goodman points out. Instead it’s a combination of personalized emails and targeted web ads.

When new role opens, the system automatically identifies close matches and sends them individualized emails. As Goodman describes them, the emails essentially say, “You’ve applied here before and you should apply here again. We’re trying to reconnect. Let’s talk.” Recruiters themselves don’t get involved until they receive a reply from the candidate.

If the candidate doesn’t respond, the system can ratchet things up a notch by precisely targeting Facebook and LinkedIn ads, right down to the individual level. It keeps candidate information up-to-date by scraping the public web and scanning data from sources such as Hoover’s and Dun & Bradstreet. In doing so, Goodman emphasizes, only information that’s been made public by the individual is used.

Restless Bandit's Outreach Activity Screen.
Restless Bandit’s Outreach Activity Screen. Courtesy Restless Bandit.

Treading Lightly on Privacy

Goodman is well aware that candidates might be put off by such personalization and data-updating. Given that Autopilot’s only been in the market only April, Restless Bandit doesn’t have enough data on candidates’ reactions to be meaningful. For now, the best feedback comes from Facebook, where users can comment on Restless Bandit’s ads.

“Most comments seem to be positive,” Goodman says. “But about 5 percent are along the lines of, ‘Whoa, how do they know about me?’” That said, he “feels like we’re in pretty good territory.” At the same time, he believes the “whole industry” should be cautious, since no one yet has an answer for whether “people are comfortable being followed [online] for jobs like they’re followed for products.”

Restless Bandit’s annual fees start in the $50,000 – $75,000 range, depending on particulars. It integrates with a number of ATS systems, including iCIMS, Bullhorn and Jobvite. Among its current clients are Adidas, Verifone, comScore and Palo Alto Networks. That’s a good base to start with, and naturally Goodman is optimistic about the future. “There’s a long road map of things to do in talent rediscovery,” he says. “We think this is a $100 million business.”

Currently, Restless Bandit has raised over $14 million from venture firms led by Toba Capital and GGV Capital. “We could be profitable, but we’re putting money into sales and marketing,” Goodman says. “We have to make a missionary sale and educate people about talent rediscovery.” After less than a year of selling, he calls the company’s growth “more rapid than we anticipated,” and expects to be profitable “in a few years.”

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