Meet the Melbourne team disrupting Australia’s $12 billion recruitment industry


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It seems like a straight forward formula. Find the right candidate for the right job, keep clients happy and make businesses more profitable. But for this Melbourne start up, they know all too well how complicated the process actually is, not just for recruiters but also for employers and job seekers.

After 9 years working in the recruitment industry, Onya CEO Ian Hillman believed there must be a simpler, more effective way to get his job done.

Australia spends $26 billion on recruitment annually, enlisting recruitment firms and job boards into a process that is expensive, poorly filtered and time consuming.

“Hiring good people takes time and money,” says Hillman. “Bad hirers take even more.”

Launched in June 2017, Ian Hillman and his Melbourne based Onya team hope to turn the recruitment world upside down by providing an online venue for working people to recommend their mates, colleagues and peers into jobs that best match their skills.

In the eyes of Hillman, recruiters are in reality time pushed sales people with high targets and rapid client turnover who usually have little or no hands-on experience of the jobs they’re expected to fill.

It didn’t take long for Hillman to see the inefficiencies of that process and to come to the conclusion that the real experts about who to hire were not in fact the recruiters – but the people already at work inside any given industry.

From there the solution became obvious, why not simplify the whole process? By cutting out the middle man and instead provide clients with a channel straight to the best source of information; word of mouth.

“What Onya does is crowd source the recruitment process,” says Hillman. “It’s all about who you know. It’s the oldest form of marketing known to man. And it works.”

“We’re already doing it,” continued Hillman. “Word of mouth has been taking care of the recruitment process for years, as friends, work mates and their peers recommend each other into jobs.”

Hillman’s online platform, Onya provides a platform for anyone with a job to fill the opportunity to tap into a network of on-the-job experts. Experts within the industry smarts to connect great people to potential hirers.

“Unlike recruiters, we’re all already experts within the industries we work in,” he says. “On average, employees have 150 professional contacts on social media networks. It’s an untapped resource and something conventional recruiters can’t match,” comments Hillman. Therein lies Onya’s advantage in the recruitment realm.

Currently in Australia, of all applicants, only seven per cent of applicants originate from referrals – people recommending other people. Yet that seven per cent is the source of 40 per cent of successful hires.

“Simply put, word of mouth is the least used and yet statistically the most effective way to put the right people into the right jobs. Even employers know that using a referral is the most effective way to hire, but their access to networks, particularly new or specialist fields, is limited,” says Hillman.

How does Onya work?

Accessible online, by smartphone or tablet, Onya monetises the word of mouth referral process by charging hirers with a job to fill. The hirer is charged to access Onya’s networks and at a later stage, is expected to reward the referring individual with a cash donation, voucher or charity donation if their recommended applicant is successful.

Onya works by generating a sequence of alerts triggered as soon as the hirer registers the industry and location of the job they want to fill. Then Onya’s network of industry specialists and on-the-job helpers suggest anyone they know whose skills fit the job post. The service then relays the contact details for the suggested candidate back to the hirer, who completes the recruitment process internally.

By referring people from people already in the industry, Onya plans to help businesses get the best people into the right jobs.