Talentful might be the solution to the tech sector’s biggest gripe: hiring talent

The perennial question of how Canada’s startup sector can hire and retain the tech talent it needs is bound to have multiple answers. One solution has recently launched out of Vancouver, where the tech talent crunch sometimes seems particularly acute. Talentful (with the slogan, “hiring developers shouldn’t be so damn hard!” splashed on its homepage) leverages machine learning and data science to hook up companies with the coders they need to make the next wunder-widget. It’s already making a huge dent in the time and budget companies need to find those people, working with local innovators like BuildDirect.

“The way we’ve done recruiting of software developers has to be disrupted,” explains founder Jia Chen, whose company has gotten real traction in the last two months, ever since pivoting from a different business model. “The current process takes too long, costs too much and consumes too much labor. Just going through individual LinkedIn profiles can often take hours out of a recruiter’s day.” Their technology connects data points from Github, Meetup, and Twitter to give employers and recruiters insights they couldn’t get from the usual sources. This is a change from relying on sites like LinkedIn to mine data, which is what many recruiting efforts involve.

The basic recruiting process hasn’t changed much in a century, where the employer and employee are not on the same level.

“LinkedIn’s biggest problem today is the top developers don’t want to be contacted,” Chen says. “They get tons of spam from recruiters” so they may actually not post relevant data about their expertise to keep off recruiters’ radar. “Also, the profiles include user-contributed content that may not actually represent the person’s strengths. We have data showing this person is actually good at things like writing code, or doing Javascript.”

Talentful is able to extrapolate data from multiple online sources, so companies can get a more holistic view of the candidate, even if that person has taken steps to make their online presence stealthy. Tweets about coding may show a person’s passion for particular technology, while comments on online forums where coders show off their own innovations by adding to a community can provide a real sense of whether the coder really knows their stuff.

The method gets results: chopping the time to shortlist candidates from 14 days to half a second and lowering the cost of a talent search from thousands to mere hundreds of dollars. “Today, the average recruiting cost is 10 percent of that person’s first year salary in the tech industry, by just doing it on your own through advertising,” said Chen. “The industry average for using a recruiting agency is 18 percent to 36 percent of their first year salary – and in contrast, our flat fee is $250 per month. With that, they can have up to 50 searches – more than enough to identify developers because they can typically find them within just the first few searches.”

That opens up the potential to truly disrupt the recruitment industry, as Chen aims to do – but the hiring revolution won’t happen in a day, he explains. The biggest hurdle is just changing people’s mindsets. The basic recruiting process hasn’t changed much in a century, where the employer and employee are not on the same level. This is changing the process so it’s more like matching — and with data, you’re able to make a more informed decision. It’s about convincing recruiting managers to use as much data as possible to spend as much time with the candidate before hiring to make a good match.” Instead of putting most of the time into just finding a pool of candidates, recruiters can take the time to truly get to know a potential hire – and hopefully get better results in retaining that tech talent, not just matching it up with employers in the first place.

It may not be the whole solution to the tech talent crunch – but in a world full of mismatched candidates and companies, Talentful is already working to make it happen.


Jonathon Narvey

Jonathon Narvey is a content marketing strategist and BetaKit Senior Editor. Living and working in the heart of downtown Vancouver, he's watched this city's tech hub grow and start to compete on a world-class level. He has learned most of what he knows about tech startups and entrepreneurial spirit by interviewing some of the most innovative thought leaders here and abroad. He's always up for learning something new about the startups, leaders and technologies that are changing our world.

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