US academics and businessmen have developed a new type of STEM graduate recruitment tool that scores graduates against specific roles. This allows them to discover the jobs best suited to their skill set and understand which areas they need to improve on.
ZLemma takes a more scientific, evidence-based approach to recruitment, using an algorithm to give each graduate a detailed percentage tailored to each role. It assesses everything from university and employment history to coursework, project, advisors worked with and even academic competition success.
“From the employers side we ask them to describe their vacant positions not in terms of vague roles and responsibility but detailed breakdowns of the their technical requirements,” explains co-creator Dr Ashwin Rao.
“With these two data sets, our algorithms are able to score each candidate against all the jobs on our database and attribute a score out of 100 known as a ZLemma Quotient. [With this] they can see where their expertise could be best utilised whilst employers can cut their recruitment processes in half by identifying and calling for interview only those candidates with the required technical expertise.”
How ZLemma was created
Dr Rao developed ZLemma after seeing the issues both new graduates and recruiters faced.
“As a mentor and tutor to mathematics, engineering and computer science students for a number of years I have seen firsthand the struggles faced by graduates leaving academic studies,” says Dr Rao. “Also my position supporting students during the jobs application process whilst working within teams recruiting new graduate talent has given me a unique perspective on the inefficiencies in getting the right people with the right mathematical and technical skills into the right jobs.
“As an employer I always found it difficult to get across the technical, mathematical or academic background I was after within the company’s existing recruitment processes, which were more set up to look for business experience, market awareness and soft interpersonal skills than numerical acumen.
“It was this discrepancy combined with my own background in algebraic algorithm that lead me to leave Wall Street after ten years working with Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley and set up ZLemma with a group of former mathematicians and executives in the technology sector,” he explains.
How ZLemma can help career-focused students and graduates
Free to end users, ZLemma allows people to get a better idea of what jobs they should be applying for and perhaps give them a glimpse at new career paths they hadn’t considered before. In addition, students can benefit from the service by using it to identify areas they can improve their employability in, increasing the likelihood of getting the position they want on graduation.
“We also believe there is a whole range of roles beyond obvious career paths which the majority of candidates have no awareness of and no mechanism for assessing their suitability for. A benefit of ZLemma is therefore opening up the job application process to the widest pool of relevant and realistic job prospects,” Dr Rao highlights.
“Students can also take a broader outlook on their careers prospects when choosing where to pursue their talent,” he continues. “We are not in the job of taking talented graduates away from a highly enjoyable career in engineering but we believe it’s important that all students have an understanding off the full range of options open to them in order to make the most informed decision. This should also give them the flexibility and confidence to try out a range of different career paths before settling on what that makes best use of their talent.
“Once settled on a career path where their skills will be valued and made good use of, candidates can use ZLemma once again to demonstrate their relevance for a position are applying for by quoting their ZLemma score in their application.
“In our experience graduates are commonly filling in 20-30 applications before getting that first position, with close than half of these application to job totally unsuited to their skills sets. We believe that through ZLemma we can slash application times but encouraging our students to only apply for jobs where they have a chance of being considered,” he adds.
Highly sought skills
Through the development of ZLemma Dr Rao has been able to ascertain which skills are most highly sought by STEM employers.
“We are seeing a significant focus in pure maths skills sets and the ability to programme, develop and run computational model and analyse big data sets across many areas of STEM, including engineering, and outside such as within the banking world,” he says.
“When I am talking to students, whether they are engineers, mathematicians or physicists, I always advice them to explore computer programming. If you don’t already know how to develop code or programme I strongly advise students investigate one programming language. Whatever their target job sector, the worlds of big data analytics and building computer programmes to increase operational efficiency are core themes that will increasingly influence recruiters thinking when taking on new personnel.
“Obviously core engineering skills are essential but to really stand out from the crowd there is a real demand for skills in programming and computational big data analysis. The increasing emphasis on maths and computational skills seen within the financial industry over the past decade is being replicated within engineering firms.
“As a result coding, data management, and data analysis are important in almost every technical job and some experience with programming (any programming language) and some exposure to databases and statistics is almost mandatory these days. More importantly, all engineers need to be willing to develop skills in these areas and demonstrate that during the recruitment process,” he concludes.