They don't call it colorblind for nothing

How a TV talent show inspired us to create more objective hiring and increased diversity of workforces at companies.

“The Voice” is a vocal competition where the strongest vocalists from across the country compete with the help of acclaimed artists.

The show’s innovative format features five stages of competition: blind auditions, battle rounds, knockouts, and live performance shows.

During blind auditions, decisions from the coaches are based solely on voice and not on looks.

The coaches hear the artists perform, but they don't see them. If a coach is impressed by the artist’s voice, he/she pushes a button to select the artist for his/her team.

If in one of the most image conscious industries, talent is the top requirement, why do normal job applicant worry about the influence of their last name, university and other things that have no bearing on whether they can do the job or not?

IF THE VOICE CAN PICK WINNERS BLINDLY, IT’S TIME TO ASK:
“WHY NOT IN OTHER INDUSTRIES”?
Three mega-trends are changing the market for entry level talent making NOW the right time to diversify workforces and help “voicify” hiring.

1. Economic

The competition for engineering/creative talent is heating up and companies are spending more money on bidding for talent and trying to sell themselves to talent.

On the other hand the recession has increased the bias towards “zero marginal product” thinking (after massive layoffs, companies found that 8 people could do the work of 9). This has led to added pressure on HR to not screw up hiring.

This pressure in turn has forced a more conservative hiring approach, whereby biases as “halo effect”, or “same as me effect” kick in. These biases make recruiters go for the people from known universities, with established connections in the industry. The assumption is that this reduces the risk of a bad hire.

2. Social

  1. Inequality is at an all time high and nowhere else is it more visible than in the tech industry. With record numbers of women and minorities entering college and graduating, there is still no reflection of this social change in the make-up of the workforce in Silicon Valley.
  2. Applicants are increasingly demanding a more tailored and personal approach/outreach.
Marc Andreessen on hiring https://twitter.com/pmarca/status/524108678492737537

In a world where Marc Andreessen is one tweet away, applicants don’t accept sending a resume, and then never hearing back again.

3. Technical

MOOC’s have exploded and allow people to add skills, at their own pace, based on their own interests and this, not always, gets picked up by recruiters. There are many undiscovered diamonds that won’t be found using conventional methods.

In short; we are living in a world where the pool of talent has never been wider, yet the pool where companies fish, has never been smaller (comparatively).

Most decisions are made with little evidence and under increased time pressure. Managers tend to have preconceived biases, and beliefs. HR is then tasked with sourcing based on these preconceptions. Contrarian information is often avoided, or ignored.

This is seen throughout the process:

  1. from deciding on the list of Universities that companies should reach;
  2. to the keywords that the ATS’s should filter out, to deal with the high volume of applicants;
  3. to the job descriptions that are created.

WHY IS THIS?

“We don't know how good people from the not top ranked programs really are.” —CEO at a Silicon valley start up
“We need to deliver now and time and budget is tight to do something about it” University recruiters, London UK based bank.
“I'd love to have a fully diverse and kick ass team, but I NEED a kick ass team.” -Hiring Managers at publicly traded social media company

With shorter time to source, increasing demands in way of skills, companies are playing defensive football. And this is hurting them and the applicants.

We solve that. GapJumpers is software that lets companies de-risk finding quality, diverse talent.

We provide Hiring Managers and Recruiters with a tool to easily conduct blind assessments and interviews to make better hiring decisions.

By implementing an evidence-based assessment process, only focused on “the skills that pay the bills” as the first filter, better decisions are made when interviewers review information to decide on the applicant.

Furthermore with our proprietary sourcing network we allow companies to cost effectively reach more diverse pools of talent to attract candidates of a gender, race, that deviates from the norm.

What evidence do we ask from applicants and provide companies:

Do you have the skills to contribute from day 1?

QA Engineer position at Dolby Labs, Sunnyvale CA. See all openings from Dolby at www.gapjumpers.me/questions/dolby-laboratories/

Instead of asking for resumes our clients prepare open ended case questions. This offers a practical way to implement a diversity hiring program.

While many companies have good intentions, success is limited without tools to eliminate normal biases and artificial barriers.

For example, by eliminating seemingly fair criteria (a degree from a top university and number of years experience), most companies re-establish a more diverse candidate pool.

Few top universities are truly diverse. And as a result most of the companies and their competitors aren’t as well.

To overcome this lack of natural diversity, companies must go to extraordinary means to find enough diverse candidates to meet their hiring objectives.

GapJumpers reframes the criteria without compromising quality and helps companies conduct blind auditions nationwide using the scale of the internet.

Road ahead

There is another issue to be addressed to increase diversity rates at companies: there is no correlation between interviewing skills and job competency.

This is a huge problem, because most interviewing methods measure interviewing skills, not job competency.

GapJumpers is focused on minimizing the impact of biased first impressions on Hiring Managers and HR, but this is only a partial solution.

We also need to train candidates to give complete information and feel comfortable in high pressure interview situations. To this end we are developing, with industry experts, interview bootcamps. These are high pressure deep dive interview simulations, with questions based on the experience of vertical experts.

We offer a complete two-sided market solution that helps companies and top quality minority talent find one another and level the playing field.

We look forward to your continued support and feedback as we grow and add more employers and young professionals to our network. Please do write to us at myfriends@gapjumpers.me or tweet at us if you want to engage in a conversation on hiring great talent or share your thoughts on diversity sourcing using #hackingdiversity.

Related reading: For some startups, tech’s lack of diversity is a gold mine. http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/For-some-startups-tech-s-lack-of-diversity-is-6052546.php