Project idea stemming from Recruiter Rant

The recruitment rant thread (Mini rant about recruiters) set my idea wheel rolling when I read it last week and I’m really keen on developing a product around the idea of connecting employers and potential candidates directly and cutting out recruiters (although there would be room for them on the platform - they’d be forced to behave by the limitations of the system).

I’m going to try to succinctly describe how I image the platform working - this may end up rambling so wish me luck!

The platform initially would just be a system where techies (developers/designers) can build out a CV. They can list all previous roles, add tags for different skills etc. At this point it wouldn’t be much more than a LinkedIn profile although it would be much more fine-grained in terms of the details you can add to it. There’d be a functionality to export as CV which would compile your experience and skills down into a CV format (hopefully a few templates) along with links to your personal websites, github, StackOverflow etc. Also part of the system would be a job requirements area where you can specify locations where you’d be willing to work, salary expectations for any future role and define your job availability. “Actively searching”, “Change considered”, “Content and unchanging”.

The information will always belong to the candidate and will be completely private. So you can always know you have an up-to-date CV whenever you need it and can send it out straight from the system and there would be no charge for candidates.

The other side would be a job listing service where employers can list their jobs on the site. They have to fill out a detailed job specification including releasing the job location and potential working hours. They then have the facility to assign interview criteria to the role. E.g. X years experience in Y, Salary: £XYZ, Knowledge of PHP etc. They can also add additional custom steps to an candidate application like getting them to perform a technical test.

From this information the site would pre-screen candidates and display the cost of listing the ad. The ad increasing in cost with the more criteria added (Sort of like Google/Facebook Ads do with in demand keywords). Once paid the ad is listed and publically searchable (although again anonymous to the point where people won’t know the hiring manager etc) and can be applied for by anyone registered on the platform. The employer can also then view anonymised CV’s of potential candidates that have been pre-screened and can request access to their full profile. In order to be allowed access to a candidates full profile the candidate has to release the information from their end.

I’m looking to start building the CV side of the platform soon and will happily work with others on the product if anyone is interesting in building out this idea with me. Any feedback would be awesome too.

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I feel that ‘recruiters’ is a catch-all term for a number of services. We need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath-water. Much as the record industry appeared to no longer be necessary, it turned out they were doing some useful things as well as stealing the income of artists. I’d ask the recruiters here, to write some user-stories:
As a recruiter (or a number of roles that it breaks down into) I want … So that …[business value]

I may be asking questions later. I’m learning about user-journeys too. I’ll be insufferable for a while, sorry.

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There’s quite a lot of sites already that promise to connect hirers to candidates directly, here’s a few (probably mostly US-centric).

I think one of the takeaway themes of the other thread is that hirers use recruitment agencies for a reason - handling the CV collection process and filtering out obviously inappropriate applications. As one contributor said, if you unexpectedly get hundreds of CVs this can be an onerous process. A solution therefore either has to reduce the admin related to the application workflow (e.g. Workable) or just keep recruiters honest (an idea I raised here).

Most of your description sounds like Stack Overflow Careers - if you are not familiar with that, do have a look (it used to be invite only, but that may have changed now). I don’t want to put you off a potentially great idea, but it is critical to ensure that it has not already been done!

At some point I’d like to do a blog post on the state of the industry, since I have an interest in this broad area (see this project). Various folks are tackling these problems from different angles: improving job data quality, automating/improving job-candidate matching, streamlining the application process, offering cloud HR services, and so forth.

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Does this have to be a ‘product’? Could it be a set of interfaces? Is there any agreed standard for job and CV data transfer, anonymised when necessary?

I feel some recruiters select candidates by their willingness to have their time wasted. I gave up on a direct application after an hour recently (South Staffs Water, be warned. “No CVs” means you have to cut and paste your CV into a web form. It’s a pity as they clearly desperately need a BA.)

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Thanks for your feedback Jon - always nice to get another perspective.

You’ve pointed out some sites that are taking a similar approach to the one I dreamed up last night. It does look like it would be similar to the Stack Overflow Careers system combined with the system of applicant tracking etc. I think it could be an amazing combination.

I’m going to start it off as the personal CV service where you can generate a CV based on your skills and experiences you add. This I think could be really powerful as you could generate a PHP CV highlighting that or you could generate a MeteorJS CV that prioritises that allowing you to tailor your CV to a role without needing to rewrite it from scratch just by filling in information about your skills, knowledge and experience.

From there I can see how successful it is and consider building the employer side to it.

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These days I’ll generally skip any direct hirer that requires me to transpose my CV into their format. It’s OK for LinkedIn etc as that’s voluntary, and useful on an ongoing basis.

What they SHOULD want, unless it’s a beauty parade, is data they can suck into their intelligent search engine. They do that, right? No? O RLY!

What is LinkedIn for? :smile:

It’s fairly easy to setup a LinkedIn connect and populate a profile from the information you find on LI. I’ve recently done something similar on a Civil Engineering platform Earlier this year, LI severely reduced the amount of information you can access unless you sign up to their partner programme ($$$), but there’s still enough there to be useful. If you have any problems give me a shout.

Before you start coding anything though, I’d speak to recruiters first and try and find out what they want and what they would be willing to pay for. You might even be able to get some sort of ‘intent’ out of them, ie. “If I do x, will you commit to trial it for 3 months?” You could be saving yourself a whole lot of pain in building something that no-one is willing to pay for.


“Pay for”? I thought this was for disruptive fun :grinning:

I’m interested in any experiment that uses a network architecture to allow small companies to compete with lazy established players who’ve climbed the tree then cut off the branches.

In the absence of any better tools, I use a spread-sheet to sketch out user-stories. I’ve been wondering about using Google document sheets to allow dynamic sharing across a distributed team. Occasional backup to git to track changes? Is this a bad idea?

In the original post, Will talks about costs to the recruiters:

My emphasis.

Of course though, it could be a ‘fun’ exercise, but where’s the fun in that? :wink:

Even without any intended revenue streams, it would still be savvy to talk to the intended audience unless the exercise is nothing more than a coding challenge.

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Sorry, that was intended to be a joke. Nothing is free in the long term. It at least costs someone’s time (or privacy.)

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Oh btw, I use Google sheets domestically. It works well as a shared document, albeit with a few gotchas:

  1. It’s a little slow to load. Not “twiddle your thumbs” slow, but slow enough that I start trying to scroll to the bottom of a sheet before it’s decided there are actually multiple sheets and my browser goes a little unresponsive.
  2. There is no save button, Google ‘auto saves’ every time you make a change, however I don’t think it recognises this until you change cells. Many a time have I edited a cell, navigated away only to come back later and my most recent change was missing. So take care to click away from a cell and note it say “All changes saved” before navigating away
  3. Scroll bar does not work quite as you would expect in IE. Irritating

That aside, I think the sharing benefit outweighs these quirks. I also believe you can access document history and click back to a previous state if needs be. You may not need to resort to git to achieve what you want to do.

Thanks @PhilW. I used the WP a bit, a while back but not the sheets. I was very impressed at Young Rewired State when 2 of us had the same presentation open, the girl next to me (girl not woman because 12) changed the slide and I went back to my screen and it had updated. There were 2 of them talking and changing different slides in the same pack. I’d only ever seen that with text-only documents & specialist software before. I didn’t hear any of the kids ask what operating system anyone was using. They just assumed ‘web’ so it didn’t matter.

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If we’re going to be disruptive then let’s REALLY disrupt:

What about about putting out small pieces of work to known ‘service providers’ and letting the system operate as an ‘exchange’ to match bids and offers, with value:price based on past work. This seems to be roughly how the JQ used to work; a virtual company made of small workshops, some customer-facing with demonstration rooms, some dirty workshops fashioning chains. People will want to keep the best people they work with secret, so it’s a challenge.

A BrumCV
Could we decide a standard workable CV format for just the Brum startup community and create a local market? A format may already exist. I haven’t checked. Does it have to be a single service provider or a competitive but co-operative set of ‘agents’ running software with shared interfaces and filling each others jobs, like they do anyway but with finders payments?

Except that, since May 12 this year, LinkedIn’s ToS now effectively preclude running a job site that pulls any data from LinkedIn, unless you go through their formal partner program.

Starting on May 12, 2015, we will be limiting the open APIs to only support the following uses:

Allowing members to represent their professional identity via their LinkedIn profile using our Profile API.
Enabling members to post certifications directly to their LinkedIn profile with our Add to Profile tools.
Enabling members to share professional content to their LinkedIn network from across the Web leveraging our Share API.
Enabling companies to share professional content to LinkedIn with our Company API.

If I was an employer, I wouldn’t deal with a site that was advertising conscripts they hadn’t captured yet. I suspect this may be in contravention of Data Protection laws too, since the ‘candidates’ didn’t provide the date for you to put on your job site.

I don’t think @PhilW was suggesting that - more a way for candidates to fill their own profiles on A N Other site from the LI API. I think.

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Clear that was coming, though I didn’t know it had arrived.

No-one in the industry committed to openness should be anywhere them.

Thanks for bringing that to my attention, Steve.

Having a standard format for CV might work if you are freelancer or a contractor. I can’t see many looking for permanent work being interested in such a system though. I’m pretty sure employers will just grep the lot for keywords and contact everyone that matches.

To me, the problem is that most job adverts miss out important details, like

  • the name of company (and therefore what they do)
  • the salary
  • what the work environment is like and if you can work remotely/flexibly etc.

Also in Birmingham, many of tech companies are hidden, whilst are few of them are known many are not, so people don’t know to approach them about jobs.

Recruiters are reluctant to release the name of the company up front because then people would approach the company directly so cutting them out. The salary can be a movable feast and if it’s not given then it’s up to a candidate to say what they’ll work for, so it’s possible to snap up a bargain if someone undersells themselves (through lack of confidence or desperation).

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