David White, Cofounder of CareerStarter, tells us how his platform helps companies hire the best candidates. He talks to us about millennials, and what they can do to stand out in the job market.
JS: Hello everyone. I’m Jacob Shriar, growth manager at Officevibe, and I’m here today with David White, who is the co-founder of careerstarter.com. David, thanks so much for joining us.
DW: Jacob, thanks for having us. We’re, pretty excited to be talking with Officevibe. You guys are doing really cool stuff up there.
JS: Thank you. That’s very nice of you to say. So first, let’s start from the beginning, before we get into Career Starter, let’s talk a little bit about you. If you can, maybe give us a little background on you, where you come from and how you kinda got started on, on Career Starter.
DW: Sure thing, and thanks for asking. I’m, a native of Indiana and went to Indiana University and also the law school there. I spent a few years after law school working in human asset development law firms, doing kind of moneyball studies for law firms, right?
So we want to know what the top performing partners look like and how we, kinda, build them up from associates to be top-performing partners.
The whole time I’ve been involved in multiple start-ups on the side, helping to form, protect intellectual property, do employment agreements and then I got involved with a great group of people about 24 months ago and we started on this idea about Career Starter and they asked me to come on and help, help run the company and I’ve been here ever since.
JS: Very cool. So maybe just tell everyone watching what Career Starter actually is and why they should check it out.
DW: Sure. So Career Starter is simply it’s a talent selection platform, and what it does is, we empower companies to collect, share, and rate applicant work samples and applicant videos. And we based it around what we consider our competition-based hiring method, and so what we do is we ask potential applicants, potential employees, to produce very short work products and short videos that highlight their skills as they’re relevant to the job, take those in, and then we help employers share them with key decision-makers in their organization to get this kind of crowd-sourcing evaluation of that work product. So before you bring someone in for an interview, you can get a feel for their competency, their likability and their cultural fit, all within 30 seconds to a minute.
JS: I really like that feature of making it collaborative and letting everyone, all the employees, have a say on the employee. I think that’s so important. I forget who it was, I don’t know if it’s at Amazon or Zappo’s or what, but at one company, they literally make the new potential candidate, meet every single employee and if one person says something bad, the guy’s not hired.
They really want to make sure that everyone likes everyone and it’s a super good cultural fit.
Before we start diving deep into some of the cool features that are in the product, talk to me a little bit about why the hiring process is so broken, or I guess more specifically, what’s broken about the hiring process?
DW: Well, it’s a supply problem, right? The broken part of the hiring process is really that I can’t know everybody I bring in to hire. And that broken part of not being able to know.
In an ideal world, I would only hire people I know and trust, right? I’d hire people that I know can do the job, I trust with my assignments, I can trust them with clients, but we can’t do that because there are only so many people I know and trust to do given jobs. And so the broken part comes in when you start to reach outside of that circle, you start to reach outside and use things like the resume and interview and video interviewing because you’re trying to, figure out from this, this contrived data, alright?
So a resume that I’ve made perfect for your position. Maybe I’ve embellished a little bit, maybe I haven’t. And then an interview where I’ve prepared and I’m putting on my best face. You’re trying to establish whether, you know, through these tools whether or not I am, you know, whether or not I am a good fit in terms of the skills I bring and like you were talking about Amazon, I know Amazon puts their applicants through a huge process to establish culture and many companies up here in Chicago I know do that too. All to establish a great culture.
Because you want somebody to do a great job and to fit within your team so that they increase the overall productivity. So that’s really the broken part to me, is that we’ve gotten away from really evaluating your skills and your fit, to filtering people based on a resume, keywords that we know we have to put in the resume, and so it’s a really contrived process of using heuristics to establish who you want to hire. So we’ve sought about correcting that and cutting right to the skills and the cultural fit for that position without having to just use a resume.
JS: Thanks for that. That was great.
Based on the clients that you’ve worked with so far, some of the users of the system, I’m just wondering what their experience was like? I’m wondering about some of the benefits they’ve gotten from the platform. What they liked about it, what they didn’t like. Can you share a little bit about that?
DW: Absolutely. From an employer standpoint, we’ve received great feedback from our pilot clients. We’ve made it super easy for them to drop resumes, right into our system, and then we send out the work challenges, we help them develop the work challenges, send them out, collect them in the system.
The employer loves it, you know, first and foremost, because every employer we’ve talked to has said, “Look, you know, we want to raise the bar up here. We want applicants who will create a short video answering some questions, create a short work product. We want people who really want to be here and are motivated to be here.” So from an employer’s side, they use it as almost a filtering tool, in addition to establishing the culture and the competency piece.
Then we surveyed hundreds of applicants, because the last thing we want to do is offend applicants or make it too difficult, and, you know, the overwhelming response we get from applicants is that, you know, they really love the fact that they can present their case beyond the resume. See, I’ve applied for dozens and dozens, and hundreds of jobs and, and I often wonder what’s happening to my resume. Does it get filtered out through the computer? Am I not getting selected for a particular reason?
At least this way, the applicant says I get to make my case very quickly to the hiring manager as to why they should hire me. I get to do it, you know, using my face, my persona and on video. So we’ve received just incredible feedback as we’ve installed the system at different employers as to how people are engaging with it.
JS: Yeah, that, that’s great. I mean it sounds amazing. I can see the value personally. I think it’s not enough to just submit a resume. Whenever I used to submit resumes for job applications, my one biggest frustration, and I think you just said it, was that I didn’t feel as if I was giving them enough. I knew myself that I had so much more to offer than what it said on that piece of paper. Beside the fact that I went to that school or that I worked at those five other companies, I’m a much smarter guy than what it says on that paper. So I could definitely see the value in a tool like that.
I guess another question I have for you, do you find that some of the users, on the users side, are they more, like, are they younger? Are they more millennials? Is it really widespread? What’s the breakdown?
DW: You know, that’s something we were hugely concerned about because we didn’t want a technology barrier causing, you know, truly talented people to, you know, not be able to engage, but we’ve found that’s not been the case. Our participation rates across the age demographic have been largely the same. So, only a few times have we encountered that somebody couldn’t put together a video, or somebody was having trouble with a technical problem as far as entering it in. We managed to correct those problems with them, directly by engaging that particular applicant. It’s not been a barrier, which was hugely relieving to us, so …
JS: Yeah that’s, that’s great. That’s lucky I guess.
JS: If you can talk a little bit, I guess I’m wondering how far the application goes. Like I’m wondering does it go also a little bit into the onboarding process, like maybe once a candidate has actually been selected? Where does it end in that life cycle?
DW: Well it’s something that is a second order value of what we’re doing. I’m glad you picked up on that because it’s one of those things where, as you bring somebody on, the more you know about them the more you can onboard them properly, right? So I know where your skill levels are at. If I have a work sample, I get a good example of where your skill levels are at. If I have a feel for your comfort level with our company in terms of culture, I know how quickly I can integrate you into the rest of the team. It’s all about collecting really solid, authentic information about an applicant before you bring them in. And you’re very right to say that extra information is hugely valuable in terms of onboarding. So, that’s our hope for the use and in these early trials, they’ve been taking that into account when they onboard, when our clients onboard people.
JS: Before you got started with Career Starter, I’m wondering if you could share some experiences that you’ve had working at other companies. If you could talk a bit about some of the culture that you’ve experienced in the past and any good, any bad, anything that you wished was different. Any stories you might want to share?
DW: Sure, sure. You know, part of the thing that inspired me to do Career Starter was, you know, I graduated law school and it’s a tough legal market right now and so I really got, you know, as I began to get into different jobs and how difficult it was, really to showcase, you know, who I am and what I can do just off of the resume, you know that, that was part of my inspiration to get Career Starter going, but then you know once I’m inside of a company, you realize how important like culture is, right?
You realize that it’s almost as important as skills in some ways, and so I had – you know, the employer I was at prior to this, that culture there was amazing. I worked for a group called Lawyer Metrics and some of the most intelligent, driven individuals that I’ve ever met in my life and you put them all in one room and you realize the difference it makes growing a company, just having the right people together on the same bus, going the same way, and that was also kind of like part of my inspiration was saying “Gosh, if we can establish skills, plus if I can establish the right person to fit into your culture you can really move your organization forward” so, that would be, my primary experience was with that group and then I’ve worked on my own and worked with other individuals that have been, in different environments, you can really see the difference when you don’t evaluate somebody in terms of their, you know in terms of what they bring to the table in terms of culture and their fit.
JS: So, my last question for you is, very simply, what’s next for Career Starter?
DW: Sure, well, we are currently building out the system where there’s a new launch coming in February with a simpler system than what exists on the website, so that, that should be done by the end of February. And then really what’s next for us is, is just a continued effort to engage more pilot clients as we develop the platform, develop custom integrations for existing applicant tracking systems and also look towards a mobile application to make entering our videos and viewing them with employees even easier.
So, lots of development and lots of trials and, to try to get the system exactly where it needs to be for employers.
JS: Sounds great. Well, David, just want to thank you for taking some time to chat with me and hopefully we’ll see you again soon.
DW: Thank you Jacob and hopefully we’ll see you too.