AI job-matching startups are more common then they used to be. Pymetrics comes to mind — it recently raised $40 million to expand its intelligent hiring product to new markets. So does Plum, which uses machine learning to surface workers based on their “raw talent” as opposed to specific skills, and Hiretual, which scraps the web with data-extracting algorithms to build sourcing databases.

Most rely on webpages and apps to coordinate candidate screening and selection, but a growing subcategory is eschewing dashboards for chatbots — companies like Stella, Mosaic, Newton, Woo, and Eightfold. Another is Wade & Wendy, a recruitment platform cofounded in 2015 out of New York University Tandon School of Engineering’s Data Future Lab incubator. It offers two chatbots for the price of one: “Wendy,” who handles recruiting, and “Wade,” who offers timely career advice.

That two-sided approach nabbed the attention of investors recently, who contributed $7.6 million to the startup’s series A. Jazz Venture Partners led the fundraising, with participation from existing investors Randstad Innovation Fund, FF Venture Capital, and Indicator Ventures. The fresh capital brings Wade & Wendy’s total raised to $11.6 million, and comes after it signed a multiyear contract with talent firm Randstad Sourceright.

“While many industries are worried that AI will negatively impact jobs, we see our technology helping to navigate people to new jobs and advancing the hiring process,” said Drew Austin, who serves as Wade & Wendy’s CEO. “2019 will be a significant year for Wade & Wendy. Utilizing our own technology, we recently doubled our number of employees. This funding will give us the resources to continue to grow and expand partnerships with industry leaders like Randstad Sourceright. The feedback we’ve already received from Randstad’s highly trained team has been invaluable to our development and we are happy to continue our work together.”

Wendy identifies prospective candidates from existing and outside talent pools, effectively working on behalf of hiring teams. Managers create assignments by supplying info about open roles and company hiring preferences, and the conversational AI coordinates next steps with qualified would-be employees (including screening Q&A sessions). It supplies information about the organization, role details, and more, and “intelligently” extracts and surfaces relevant details about them to hirers. Each interaction helps to improve the underlying machine learning algorithms, improving the quality of future matches.

Meanwhile, Wade targets job candidates and employees with “tailored guidance” and feedback, drawing on a proprietary knowledge base of tech startups and Fortune 500 companies.

Wade & Wendy says its chatbots take 29 minutes to chat with the average candidate (adding up to about 30 hours saved for every 100 candidates per role), and claims they’ve exchanged 100,000 messages to date — 44 percent of which were off-hours. Moreover, it says Wendy’s built-in email engine can increase outreach activity by a factor of ten and boost qualified talent pools by 20 percent, and that 80 percent of recommended talent receive an interview.

“We’ve seen how Wendy automation of top of funnel tasks has increased the bandwidth of our recruitment teams during the pilot,” said Randstad’s global head of technology and analytics Jason Roberts, “and we’re excited to be rolling that value out across even more of our customers.”

The chatbot market is expected to reach $1.23 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research, and there’s a good reason for its continued growth: Roughly 69 percent of consumers prefer chatbots for quick communication with brands, according to a recent Salesforce survey. Moreover, Gartner predicts that they’ll power 85 percent of all customer service interactions by the year 2020.

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