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Tue 24 Mar 2020 02:17 PM

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'The hiring is still happening' AI recruiter Searchie sees 80% surge in business during Covid-19 crisis

Companies are rethinking job positions and how they can be fulfilled remotely in sectors including healthcare and e-commerce

'The hiring is still happening' AI recruiter Searchie sees 80% surge in business during Covid-19 crisis

Sahiqa Bennett, pictured with her husband and co-founder Harvey, says jobs have not disappeared, but that employers are rethinking various roles and how they can be fulfilled remotely.

Covid-19 means artificial intelligence has never been more relevant.

Just ask Sahiqa Bennett, the co-founder and CEO of recruitment platform Searchie, whose AI avatars interview job candidates online on behalf of employers anywhere around the world. It’s no wonder her business has seen an 80% rise in revenue in the first two weeks of March alone.

“It’s rising and the uncertainty of when this will all be over is creating an opportunity for us, because if it's just a two week thing then people would like a temporary solution but they are treating this more seriously because no one can put a timeline as to when this will be over,” she tells Arabian Business.

If you thought the pandemic was putting off companies from hiring, think again. Bennett says jobs have not disappeared, but that employers are rethinking various roles and how they can be fulfilled remotely.

"The hiring is still happening. No client has turned around to us and said we don’t need your platform, so hiring is still happening; they just need to rethink the roles and forces to change some of their role to guide that… People don’t talk enough about job seekers. Imagine your job seeking is now on hold and you as a candidate are on hold. We're educating companies to rethink the role they had in mind and what it looks like working from home. How do their teams look working from home?” she says.

Higher volumes

While it took a global health epidemic to get businesses to embrace AI and companies like Bennett’s, she says crises are when tech players can thrive the most, with Searchie now receiving higher volumes than ever and inquiries from around the world, including countries like Saudi Arabia and the UK.

“I'm sad about the fact that globally, these unfortunate circumstances create the best conditions for us in the tech world. A lot of it is a mindset thing where people aren't in a rush to try new things or ways to be efficient.

"People carry on the way they are, but when that’s taken away and drastic changes happen, companies are forced to grab whatever they can to function, which has benefitted us in a huge way where we're getting enquiries in places we're not even in and where volumes are higher. We’re getting enquiries in the UK,” she says.

Sectors in demand

The hiring is taking place across across tech companies, e-commerce players, online services, pharmacies and groceries, but is largely focused on the healthcare sector as doctors struggle not only to recruit staff but to find the time to do so.

With an overflow of patients and a shortage in healthcare professionals, Bennett says Searchie helps employ candidates who don’t necessarily have the healthcare experience, but can work across the sector’s various roles including finance.

"Health authorities are bulking up their hospitals, so we're helping companies and entities identify candidates. They don’t have the luxury of nurses flying in from countries so they need to find the ones that are unemployed or retired within countries… We have to think about people.

We can’t have all these unemployed people which we will have from retailers, airlines, various sectors; we need to keep them employed where there is growth and a need. There are people who can move across healthcare that can help organise through finance, for example, without necessarily being a doctor or a nurse,” she says.

Volunteer initiative

Last week Searchie also launched an initiative that allows its avatars to interview volunteers around the world to help doctors treating coronavirus patients. Not anyone can volunteer, and many potential candidates are unable to handle the pressure that comes with the role. That is where the platform comes in.

“There are actual doctors who are crying because they have no time to speak to volunteers - that’s how urgent the situation is… The service is available for hospitals here so anyone from the community can volunteer and that way hospitals can quickly renew video interviews to identify who can work under pressure, who doesn’t crack under these conditions, because some will be in the way or break down,” Bennett says.

Many small businesses in the UAE and around the world will also crack under pandemic pressures, but Bennett’s Searchie doesn’t seem to be one of them.

Arabian Business digital magazine: read the latest edition online