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The Future of Work

New Recruiting Platform Uses Anonymous Profiles To Help Tech Companies Find Talent

Woo is betting anonymity will give highly sought after tech workers the nudge they need to find their dream position.

[Photo: Andrew E Weber via Tookapic]

Most working people aren't looking for a new job, but that doesn't mean they aren't open to the opportunity. For example, according to LinkedIn’s Talent Trends Report, 85% of people—otherwise known in HR parlance as "passive job seekers"—are employed and satisfied with their position. Among them, only 25% are looking for their next role. Nearly half (45%) of the others say they’d be willing to talk to a recruiter about a potential opportunity.

Why so few, especially in a job market that favors the candidate? Liran Kotzer posits that everyone has their own definition of what the "right" opportunity would be that would get them to switch jobs, including better compensation, relocation, or work-life balance. "In reality," he tells Fast Company, "People don’t like to invest much effort." They might be afraid that their supervisor or coworkers will find out, or that they wouldn’t actually get an offer, Kotzer says, but they’re basically shutting themselves off to the possibility of landing a dream job. "So we built the technology to eliminate [those] barriers," he says.

Finding Tech Talent Outside Of Silicon Valley

Launching out of beta today, Woo is aimed at luring one of the most in-demand yet passive job-seeking talents: the tech worker. Taking up eight of the top 25 jobs based on the number of open positions and earning potential, these positions range from data scientist to mobile developer, and recruiters are scrambling to fill them—especially if the company isn’t located in Silicon Valley or other tech hotbeds.

Kotzer, Woo’s cofounder, is a veteran of three startups, including freelance recruiting site DoNanza (assets acquired by Freelancer.com) and SeeV (also acquired by Matrix, an Israeli public tech company), one of the largest job-placement companies in Israel. But Woo is entering an increasingly crowded market populated by the likes of Jobr or Switch that lets not-so-active job seekers post a resume with an option to remain anonymous until they connect with an employer. Anthology (formerly Poachable) is probably the closest in terms of focus on tech talent.

Making Themselves Poachable

Woo is trying to separate from the pack with its functionality. Users can create a very comprehensive profile on what they want in a job, i.e., promotion, experience in new technologies, working at a big company/working at a startup, flex work schedule, relocation, salary, benefits, and compensation. They can import information from platforms such as LinkedIn, GitHub, Stack Overflow, and others can be added manually. Pulling such information can potentially expose the passive jobseeker, even if their name and company name is changed, so Woo added another layer of privacy by cloaking all aspects of the profile in anonymity.

In a demo, Kotzer shows how recruiters will only be able to see the profile if it's a match based on the candidate’s terms. "We are the gatekeeper of the candidate," he points out. Once a match is made, the candidate gets a glimpse inside the company culture, Kotzer says, because of the visuals. Companies can upload photos of their offices and employees as well as videos. No photos? No problem, Kotzer says. Woo can send out a photographer to shoot the workspaces.

Woo has been in beta test mode since last March (when it was called HighR), focusing on companies in Silicon Valley and Kotzer’s native Israel. Both candidates and companies had to be invited. Among some 4,000 users, Kotzer says they were employed by a spectrum of startups, as well as Uber and Google. "We gave them [additional] free invites, and more than 50% shared them with friends," Kotzer says. The companies that signed on to the test phase included Wework, Adobe, AOL, and Yahoo, says Kotzer, and 200 more are waiting to join.

It’s free for a candidate to post their profile, and a company is only charged if they hire. It’s 10% of the actual compensation. Eventually, Kotzer says there will be an additional business model, similar to a subscription service, that will generate revenue.

Kotzer maintains that so far, candidates have been matched to companies within 25 hours, and Woo has generated a 78% candidate response rate to offers, which he believes far exceeds traditional recruitment platforms based on anecdotal evidence from recruiters. InMails on LinkedIn, a strategy used by many recruiters to target passive candidates, have a 6% response rate, according to some HR professionals. Data from Jobvite indicates that employee referrals yield the highest application-to-hire conversion rate, and those hires tend to be more satisfied and stick around longer.

Kotzer boasts Woo is "1,000% better and more efficient at engaging with the passive job seeker," because it contains a new layer of data for both the company and the candidate. "It’s not just about let’s try and see what happens," he contends. "The recruiting model is broken, and we will be able to make it better."

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