Monday, May 28, 2012

How Start-ups Help Employers Find the Best Job Candidates



Harqen Ceo Kelly Fitzsimmons
               With signs that the economy is warming up, a bevy of new start ups stand ready to help companies and employees make the right match. While admitting that during the recession, “the hiring space was hellacious,” Kelly Fitzsimmons, CEO of   Milwaukee-based HarQen, made good use of the time to improving existing systems and to work on new products.  Founded in 2007, HarQen considers itself “a pioneer in the virtual interview space,” with its application called Voice Advantage that allows recruiters to use their phones and a simple web-based dashboard to create and distribute customized, prerecorded phone interview questions. On their part, job candidates  take the interview at their own convenience by clicking on a link through email or on the web; they type in a phone number and answer a callback a second later to begin. Once the interview is completed, recruiters can review the exchange and forward it to others who play a role in hiring. Hiring managers, says Kelly, like the product because it is “a real timesaver, eliminating scheduling hassles”.  And so do job seekers. HarQen reports that 90% of candidates complete the interview within the first 24 hours and 40% of them take the interviews evenings or weekends.  
   This month HarQen takes its technology a step further with the introduction of its second major product called Symposia which allows people  to record meetings, including  typical meeting actions, such as agendas, note taking, and presentations with videos; the content becomes organized  while the meeting is underway.  Once the meeting ends, meeting participants can revisit the session, or two minutes of it, catching up on all the nuances of voice, content, and images for further review or for sharing with colleagues. CEO Kelly Fitzsimmons says Symposia allows meetings to be “searchable, analyzable and shareable in all languages at any time because while we seem to meet a lot, we can’t be in two places at the same time; Symposia is kind of like a DVR for meetings.” With a “massive portfolio of patents and trade secrets,” HarQen has so far raised close to $8 million from investors; with the help of its new products, it expects predict revenues will more than double for 2012.
CEO-Founder Danielle Weinblatt
      Another company, Take the Interview, launched last September, allows employers to screen candidates with asynchronous (not live) video interviews based on questions they design or choose out of a data base of some 6000 questions. CEO-Founder Danielle Weinblatt, who dropped out of a Harvard MBA program to devote time to running the company, says most interviewers “know in the first few minutes of face to face meeting a candidate whether they want to proceed, but usually they allow the interview to continue for up to an hour, resulting in an inefficient process—often with no results.
      Takethe Interview targets companies between 500-5000 employees, to fill positions, such as salespersons, analysts, customer service personnel or administrative assistants. Working on a monthly subscription basis, the company started out by offering its services to   technology companies because “these were the fastest growing companies once the economy picked up, plus they were open to adapting technology to their hiring process.” To date, Take the Interview has conducted some 9000 interviews and works with over 130 clients, including Compushare, Union Square Ventures, and Boston University.  Though it just began charging for the service in November, the company expects to generate “substantial revenues” in 2012, its first full year of operations. With human resource estimated to be a $14 billion market migrating increasingly to software as service applications, Danielle says this is “a nascent industry in which we have just begun to scratch the surface, but by continuing to offer improved services, my goal is to become one of the top ten players in my industry.”
Elli Sharif of Hire Art
     Earlier this year, Elli Sharif co founded Hire Art, a company which both sources and screens candidates by offering recruiters not only video interviews but also work samples— “our secret sauce”, similar to what candidates may encounter on the job.  Candidates record their responses to a task, such as analyzing a spread sheet, crafting a part of a marketing plan, or giving a sales pitch, with video, text, or attachments. Targeting candidates from 0-5 years out of college,   Hire Art, says Elli,   helps solve the problem of employers or employment services inundated with  hundred of resumes online without any prior screening.  Elli says “we can extract rich data from these work samples and with our smart matching algorithm then connect promising candidates with employers.”   The Hire Art business model is the same as for an employment agency; it charges charge an incentive fee when it sources candidates or a monthly subscription fee for employers who want to use its recruiting software.
Founder Shara Senderoff of Intern Sushi
   And then there is also help for the often neglected interns—both paid and unpaid. Shara Senderoff says the idea for a company emerged after she spent “a very unsatisfactory internship for a production company where I was handed a bottle of 409 to wash walls.” So in late 2011, she founded Intern Sushi (the word sushi is a symbol for a very carefully presented, quality product) as a platform to help interns land internships and companies hire them. Based on Shara’s belief that” the key to unlocking career potential is the ability to communicate your own story,” the site helps interns prepare and record one minute video resumes and digital profiles, including tips on how not to present yourself.  Interns find and apply directly through the site by filling out a “Why Me?” statement, including a video, if desired. Employers, who  have listed  from one to over 100 positions on the site, then contact the candidates to arrange follow up or to make offers. One feature of the site is tips from experts in the targeted industries, fashion, entertainment, sports and advertising, to explain what their companies look for.
    To date, Intern Sushi has posted over 4000 positions and placed over 400 interns.  Prospective interns can use the site for free; with an  upgrade to a premium membership for $8.99 a month, they gain access to enhanced features, including a 48-hour head start on applying to new listings as well as  the option to make  unlimited applications and video uploads, including company specific videos. Eventually, Shara feels her young interns which represent the very desirable 18-24 year old demographic will eventually add to Intern Sushi revenues through sponsored advertisements as well as other revenue streams.
 http://www.forbes.com/sites/85broads/2012/05/23/how-start-ups-help-employers-find-the-best-job-candidates/

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