Speed is more important than ever in hiring for high-tech talent

Specialized job portals like Hired are helping high-tech companies and startups recruit candidates in a competitive talent market

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After six years of developing software solutions for telecommunication companies and learning institutions, Nima Tayefeh wanted to try something different. He was convinced that the emerging field of financial technology would provide him with greater career opportunities, and hoped to land a job there.

With his honours degree in computer science, practical workplace experience and a good reputation amongst his colleagues, one would presume Tayefeh could easily get any software job he wanted. He wasn’t so sure, however: “Nowadays, competition is rising, employers are getting very picky about the type of candidates they would accept.” Tayefeh thought a middleman could help him in his job hunt, and stumbled upon an advertisement of Hired, a tech recruiting company based in San Francisco. After interviews with two companies, he landed the job he wanted at a fintech startup called Wave in Toronto.

In the rapidly growing tech sector, where companies are constantly on the lookout for talent, both employer and candidate stand to gain from Hired. The company is focused on reducing mismatches to speed up the whole hiring process, which can often be protracted. Last year, company ratings site Glassdoor found the interview process for software developers takes 35 days on average across the six countries surveyed (Canada, US, France, Germany, UK, Australia), while Hired says it only takes 14 days on average for its Canadian users to be employed.

Since its soft launch in Canada last June, 12,000 applicants and 250 companies including Kik, Shopify, Influitive, Wealthsimple and Wave have made more than $60 million in job offers, with an average salary of $92,000, as of November. Hired is essentially a job matchmaker, which sources top software engineers in a region, and matches the candidates and companies on its platform using a mixture of algorithm and human curation based on each party’s needs. It does the screening of candidates for companies, and only recommends companies to candidates when criterias such as position, industry, location and compensation match what they are looking for. Companies don’t pay until they employ a candidate from Hired. For job hunters, it’s free to join—although only 5% of applicants pass its vetting process. Candidates also get a $1,000 self-referral bonus if they are successfully employed on the platform.

Wave, a five-year-old startup that provides financial tools for small business owners, joined the platform last June to help fill its developer positions. According to Wave’s development manager Michael DiBernardo, hiring is an ongoing task in the fast-growing company: “We are always hiring, and have at least a couple of interviews every week.” To keep new hires coming, Wave also attends developer events, employs its internal referral network and a handful of other recruiting agencies in addition to Hired. On average, they hire one out of every five to 10 candidates, according to DiBernardo, as many things can go wrong in the process. “The candidate you like sometimes chooses another job, or they don’t do so well in the later stages,” he explains. But since Wave joined Hired last June, it’s became their second most successful recruitment tool after their internal referral program. By December of last year, Wave had already employed at least five new developers through Hired, and paid Hired 15% of each candidate’s first year base salary for their service, which DiBernardo says is on par with other recruiting agencies in the tech sector.

According to the labour market outlook report for 2015-2019 by the Information and Communications Technology Council, Canada is headed for a major talent shortage in tech. Canada needs to fill an additional 182,000 IT positions, including software engineers, web technicians and information systems analysts by 2019. Numerous startups like Wave, which form the bulk of Hired’s corporate clients, have created a profile on Hired to get an upper hand in the battle for talent. Every Monday, companies can view the latest batch of highly qualified candidates who are recommended to them on the platform. They can then send interview invites to profiles they liked.

The talent shortage problem doesn’t come from the shortage of applicants, according to Tayefeh—but the shortage of qualified candidates. In his previous jobs, an opening for a developer position was inundated with 200 applications in just two days, but most of the applications were low quality. As a result, companies have become choosier over the years. You can see they haven’t done their research to target the company, he says. “Companies don’t want somebody to work for them just for a job,” says Tayefeh. “They want somebody who really likes their company and will stay with them for five years.”

For Tayefeh, he’s pleased with the new job Hired found for him and praises their attention to candidates. Upon successfully joining the platform, each candidate is assigned to a “talent advocate,” whom they can contact for help with anything related to the process. They took his input and only sent him jobs that matched his criteria. “I felt I was able to get a lot of value out of my talent advocate,” Tayefeh says. “It wasn’t just this one conversation where they told me how Hired worked. They were playing the matchmaker—constantly asking candidates if they are interested in certain companies and if they need more information or help connecting.”

The biggest strength of Hired, according to Tayefeh, is that they put companies’ salary offers up front. Most companies don’t disclose that information until late in the process. “If you don’t know what their salary is, you’re taking a risk hoping that the company will offer you a market salary,” he says. “Many companies in Canada don’t do that, however. Hired is getting rid of that weakness so there are no surprises at the end, and candidates don’t feel like they’ve wasted their time.”

When companies send an interview request to a candidate, they are required to give a salary. Like applicants, companies get vetted and are removed from the platform if they refuse to adhere to Hired’s code of conduct for the hiring process. “We’re really focused on transparency and driving a really nice white glove experience for both the company and candidate,” says Kerri Jankelow, general manager of Central US and Canada at Hired.