RescueTime Introductions: Productivity Meets Hiring Needs

On Monday, TechCrunch reported that RescueTime, a web-based time management and analytics tool for knowledge workers who want to be more efficient and productive, just launched a new offering called Introductions. This is a new ‘matching’ service that the company developed when friends and other startups started asking them for recommendations for good programmers (the company never set out to delve into the world of recruiting).

As a result, RescueTime has created a highly tech-based “recruiting agency” of sorts, using its own productivity management software to match its currently 350,000 users with hand-picked ‘client companies’ that have job opportunities to share.

RescueTime, which was launched back in 2007, can really help recruiters and sourcers (as well as any other knowledge workers) become more time efficient and productive with technology and resources. It lets users monitor the time they spend using various desktop applications and visiting websites, in an effort to help identify heavy program use or website visits and make you a more productive worker.

So, just how does Introductions work? As shared in the TechCrunch article,

The service uses machine learning and pattern matching techniques to find matches between companies and employees based on “archetypes”; in other words, people are matched to companies based on the ratio of, say, time spent in productive categories, tools used, industry websites visited, research done, and so on. Fioca cited an interesting example, saying that it turns out using Aquamacs is a good indicator that someone is likely to be a great programmer.

Check out this video about Introductions by RescueTime VP of Product Marketing, Jason Grimes. The company promises that its matches will be ‘cool’ and that its companies are places where they themselves would consider working. And of course they operate with the utmost concern for users’ privacy.

At the April ERE Meetup in Seattle — graciously hosted by Talent Technology — I had the pleasure of being introduced to Brian Fioca, one of the co-founders as well as the CTO of RescueTime. Fioca was very soft-spoken about his company, but there was something really special and unique about it as he described its capabilities to me. RescueTime is a really cool tool — yet it was not initially designed to be a recruiting resource. Even so, there are some very interesting sourcing, as well as HR and recruiting, applications of this technology — and now one that even attempts help with some hiring needs.

Some of the things it can help with include:

  • Tracking what websites you visit and categorizing them for you (think voyurl.com)
  • Helping you set productivity goals for yourself based on the programs you use and the websites you visit that help you do your job
  • Providing graphical analysis of your daily activities
  • Customization of goals and categories
  • Creating “Projects” to monitor time, resources, and tag keywords to gather specific data for various special projects
  • Blocking of certain sites during certain time periods to avoid excessive distraction
  • Allowing you to designate “Focus Time” — all programs and websites categorized as “Very Distracting” can be blocked from being accessed for a specified period of time
  • Manual tracking of offline activities (i.e. meetings, phone calls, breaks, etc.)
  • Comparing your activity with other people that are similar to you, based on your user profile (coming in a future release)

I’ve been trying this program out myself, and while I’m still working on customizing my categories and such, here are a couple of graphs of what my most recent workday looked like:

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RescueTime: Project Time Tracking Software
& Team Time Management Software

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Obviously given my line of work and the fact that I work remotely, it makes sense that instant messaging would be a heavily used application, as would writing applications and websites, search and intelligence resources, and social networks.

From a sourcer’s viewpoint, this can prove to be incredibly helpful in automatically keeping track of time spent using certain sourcing tools — as well as justifying the need to have them. It can also help you evaluate what resources may be being underutilized. From a management perspective, wouldn’t it be great to be able to graphically see how much time your sourcers or recruiters are actually spending searching your internal ATS (if at all)? Since it can be used on an individual basis as well as by teams, this could finally shed some light on actual vs. ‘guestimated’ use of time and resources.

Additionally, consider this tool as a way to source internal talent. By looking at resources, websites, and productivity time, companies could in theory discover individuals within their own walls with skills that could be applied to other projects and departments, as well as use RescueTime for its original design to pinpoint time management deficiencies and track resource usage. Instead of having to rely on employees filling out internal network profiles, companies could let their actions speak louder than their words, in a sense. Lots of possibilities…

Only a couple problems I see that may arise with this new offering:

  • Like LinkedIn has done itself lately, this may put RescueTime in the position of ticking off its customers by making new job opportunities readily available to its clients’ employees.
  • I am unsure if there is a way to indicate, as a Pro client, that you do not want RescueTime Introductions to be applied to your designated users. If there isn’t, it might be something to consider…

Will this be a game-changer? Well, there are plenty of other time management products out there, but I’m unaware of any that gather user data and analyze it for the purpose of assisting both users and clients in job match-making.

Amybeth Quinn began her career in sourcing working within the agency world as an Internet Researcher. Since 2002, she has worked in both agency and corporate sourcing and recruiting roles as both individual contributor and manager, and also served previously as the editor of The Fordyce Letter, FordyceLetter.com and SourceCon.com, with ERE Media. These days she's working on some super cool market intelligence and data analytics projects. You can connect with her on Twitter at @researchgoddess.

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2 Comments on “RescueTime Introductions: Productivity Meets Hiring Needs

  1. Hi Amybeth! I remember talking at the ERE event, which was a pivotal turning point for this program. It was incredibly insightful and valuable to get to talk to you and everyone else there about the prospects for this kind of service. Thanks for the great writeup! 

  2. You quote TechCrunch that “The service uses machine learning and pattern matching techniques to find matches between companies and employees based on ‘archetypes’. What evidence do we have that that approach is a good one? Maybe this approach is “cool”, maybe people will buy. But: will it improve the abysmal results of recruitment today? Is it based on proven evidence of that which does improve hiring results? We know what improves hiring and we know how to use it – because it (science) is used is the very best companies.  It’s not “machine learning and pattern matching techniques”.  It’s assessments.

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