ALiGN by OTEC, Ryerson Magnet and Lumina Learning
An ABP Excellence in Technical Innovation Award Winner
Lumina Learning are the next generation of inventors of digital selection and personal development assessments. We combine cutting-edge technology with years of research into personality and performance. From colourful portraits to practical apps, the Lumina toolkit is built to select, onboard and develop across one easy, familiar end-to-end solution.
It’s experiential – memorable learning experiences and practical language create a set of ideas that people remember and can apply for years to come.
It’s accurate – scientifically validated assessments save time and significantly accelerate learning for individuals and teams.
Every tool in the suite helps shape more impactful, inclusive people solutions that drive organisational growth. Recognised worldwide, we have a global network of Partners and Strategic Alliances all committed to the same mission, transforming organisations by celebrating people, one human at a time.
Janice Parviainen and our Partners in Lumina Learning Canada have collaborated with us for a submission to the ABP awards. As part of the award submission, the team in Canada showcased their ALiGN project, which has reached a finalist position in Excellence in Technical Innovation.
From employer-centric to jobseeker-centric
From employer-centric to job seeker centric – an innovative approach that scales up technology and integrates an online psychometric tool that produces talent-to-role fit correlations with in-demand job roles in the service of vulnerable, marginalized and underserved populations. The project combines technology with a radical new operating model, to fight discrimination in the employment market. Business psychology is no longer partisan, siding with employers as they attempt to winnow down a candidate pool. Instead, the full power of technology and psychometrics is harnessed in the service of the candidate. Putting the control back into the hands of the jobseeker, candidates match themselves to job opportunities based on their criteria and personality strengths.
Traditionally, systems and processes in the recruitment industry have been designed to load the dice in favour of the employer. 99% of large organisations now use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to streamline hiring, automatically selecting on questions and credentials. Business Psychology is often baked into this technology and despite it not being recommended best practice, psychometrics and ability tests are often used to automatically screen-out candidates. Even worse, black-box AI algorithms are employed to make such decisions and have been shown to suffer from many biases, such as Amazon’s AI tool which proved to be biased against women. Many vulnerable and underserved groups have limited job experience and are hopelessly ill-equipped to combat such bias and discrimination, as evidenced by a 2019 study that showed that although the unemployment rate in Canada was 5.7%, the corresponding rate for immigrants who had arrived within five years was almost twice as high, at 9.5%.
The ALiGN Project set out to innovate both technologically and in terms of the operating model. To address the barriers posed by leading with a traditional CV approach, particularly when factors such as education and experience are already unfairly distributed in vulnerable populations, the project asked:
- How could psychometrics be experienced as empowering for jobseekers?
- How could technology be used in the service of the jobseeker?
- How could individuals from vulnerable groups, who often lack access to career guidance, coaching and/or support with the recruitment process, be given such support?
The field of Business Psychology demonstrates the incremental validity of using evidence-based approaches to better predict role compatibility and fit. This project drew on various approaches/tools, all put at the disposal of the jobseeker:
- Detailed job profiling – identifying the ‘ideal candidate profile’ for each role/job family
- Assessing role compatibility using a hierarchical Big 5 personality model
- Personalised career coaching for jobseekers, integrating insights from personality assessments to equip them with long-lasting skills and benefits
One challenge this project addressed for employers was their often stated need to embrace diversity, yet they often simply don’t have the knowledge, capability or resources required to do so in a recruitment process. To address this challenge, the project set out to enrol prospective employers to support more diverse recruitment, through addressing key recruitment challenges such as reducing costs and time, addressing labour shortages, and enabling better selection decisions through deeper access to an untapped pool of diverse talent.
The ALiGN project set out to innovate and turn the traditional employer-centric model of recruitment on its head, replacing it with a jobseeker-centric model. The ALiGN Project and its related programmes are targeted towards underserved groups and vulnerable populations such as women, youth, indigenous peoples, refugees, newcomers, racialised peoples, LGBTQ2S+ people, persons with disabilities, veterans, and individuals living in rural communities.
Jobseekers sign up to this creative programme by creating a free account where they are invited to take a Big 5 personality assessment (Lumina Spark). They personalise their profile with their education, skills, experience, and location to get matched to new job opportunities. Job ‘matches’ are determined based on the jobseekers’ job preferences (function, level etc.) as well as roles determined to be a ‘fit’ based on personality to help expose them to jobs they may not have previously considered. Jobseekers have complete control over the process and what information they disclose. For example, they decide which employers to connect with once they get ‘matched’. They can also choose whether they wish to identify as a member of an employment equity group. To limit bias, employers do not see the profile of jobseekers until they decide to share them.
To enrol employers into this approach explainer videos were created:
Jobseekers receive an innovative personality report, a Lumina Spark Portrait, which increases their self-awareness and informs them of their strengths, challenges, communication, and leadership style.
They learn to ‘speed-read’ others using the innovative Spark Splash App as well as learn how to deal with stress and regain composure to prepare them emotionally and culturally for the workplace.
This learning is facilitated by e-learning modules created by Lumina Learning and ALiGN. These teach them how to harvest all the information in their Lumina Spark Portrait and use it in their C.V., cover letter and interview. All registered jobseekers also have free access to a Career Counsellor, who also supports them with interpreting their Spark Portrait, career coaching and CV writing and interview skills. Career Counsellors use the information to tailor support programmes and steer jobseekers towards roles in which they will likely be most successful. This approach provides an additional support system for vulnerable jobseekers by ensuring a suite of wrap-around services that will address their specific needs.
Lead with your personality and not your resume
Employers using ALiGN are enrolled to specify their job opportunities. An “ideal candidate profile” is determined based on the specific role which has been profiled by a team of Business Psychologists at Lumina Learning using a combination of industry specific data, academic research literature and job information to identify the critical behavioural competencies and blockers for each role. Currently, 44 (and growing) different job functions and families have been profiled across industrial, technical and manual labour, professional services, healthcare, retail and hospitality sectors. These behavioural competencies and blockers are assessed using the Spark instrument and employers are automatically matched with jobseekers who fit this profile, as well as any other criteria they set. Employers are attracted to this ‘turnkey’ system that allows them automated access to an untapped pool of diverse talent allowing for a faster, cheaper recruitment process that emphasises job compatibility using a scientific, objective approach from the outset.
The following expectations were considered regarding how the success of the project would be measured:
- Getting more individuals from vulnerable populations in front of employers – particularly to make it to the interview stage
- An increased number of placements and greater job satisfaction for jobseekers
- Employers getting access to a more diverse talent pool
- Employers experiencing candidates as being more compatible for roles and improving retention
- Shortening the recruitment cycle and reducing costs
Currently, the ALiGN project has attracted over 20,000 employers, who have benefitted from a faster and more cost-effective avenue for identifying individuals suitable for their roles, increasing retention rates and job satisfaction, due to improved fit with role requirements. Employers are now also connected with a more diverse talent pool, finding talent in populations they might not have reached using more traditional talent attraction methods.
As of October 2021, 6,936 jobseekers have registered with ALiGN, with 97,000 connection requests having been sent by employers, with research on the success of the project finding an 89% job placement rate. The demographics of cohorts vary, with one recent cohort breaking down as follows:
- 87% identified as belonging to an employment equity group (women, people with disabilities, indigenous people, visible minorities)
- 62% identified as female
- 46% identified as racialised people
- 8% identified as LGBTQ2s+
- 5% identified as living with a disability
- 1% identified as indigenous people
A study showed a 30% higher employment success rate for those identified as a natural fit for specific occupations versus those with a low fit. Additional benefits for jobseekers are achieved through wrap-around services which address their specific needs, coaching them through the entire process, and increasing employability through improved self-awareness, a better understanding of team dynamics, and resilience training, helping them understand their strengths, challenges and leadership styles, allowing them to recognise their value to employers. Without the programme, these opportunities would have been extremely difficult to come by, especially for underserved populations.
Finding a job in the right career path has always been a challenge, but with the ALiGN model, finding the right fit has been made much simpler, resulting in higher levels of job satisfaction and retention. Kristi Cloutier, a 26-year-old jobseeker, found the programme to be extremely helpful in helping her find a career path she had not considered before.
“ALiGN helped me to understand what jobs I’d be better suited for and to narrow down my search for jobs where my personality traits would fit. Because of that, I ended up with a job that I am happy in.”
Some of the learnings so far would be to have incorporated the e-learning for jobseekers and career counsellors from the start as this was added in later and proved invaluable in getting the most from the Spark instrument. Similarly, more thought around capacity building for counsellors around using psychometrics would have been valuable from the outset as many had never used them before.
With the ALiGN project in the early stages of piloting, ongoing outcome evaluation is being undertaken. This includes investigating how service delivery partners are implementing the platform and how users interact with ALiGN. Data on participant outcomes is used to identify patterns and validate the research findings. This process identifies areas for improvement, providing recommendations for ongoing delivery and use of the ALiGN platform. Evaluators conduct an evaluation outlining the outcomes achieved by participants through the programme, alongside a process evaluation highlighting key findings related to successes, challenges, and opportunities that are emerging during the project’s implementation.
For more diversity & inclusion exploration, you can download our research paper The Advantage of Female Leadership for suggestions to employers on increasing gender equality in the workplace.
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