I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Matt Mickiewicz, CEO and Co-Founder of Hired.com. Originally launched in 2012 as DeveloperAuction, it revolutionized the hiring process for engineers as the first transparent marketplace for recruitment. Its model allowed engineers to put their talents up for auction, while startups needing talent bid on them. The candidates are then able to see each company’s offer before accepting (or declining) an interview.
Hired.com has since then rebranded and expanded to include UX/UI designers, product managers and data scientists as well as software engineers. It boasts an impressive resume with candidates receiving 5 to 15 resumes from over 800 top companies within a week, as well as offering those candidates who land a job through Hired a $2,000 signing bonus.
In addition to Matt Mickiewicz, Hired.com’s founders include Allan Grant of CureBit and Doug Feirstein, founder of uSell and LiveOps. I was fortunate enough to catch some time out of Matt’s busy schedule and he gave me a great look into Hired’s current situation, plans for the future, and gave some great advice for any future entrepreneurs out there!
StartupLowdown: Just to introduce yourself to our readers who may not be familiar, can you briefly tell us what hired.com is all about?
Matt: Hired is a curated, two-sided marketplace for full-time tech jobs currently operating in San Francisco and New York, with additional cities launching in 2014. Our goal is to empower talent to find their next dream job with as much transparency and as little hassle as possible.
StartupLowdown: Some of the 800+ employers that currently use hired.com include big names like Facebook and Twitter, as well as up-and-comers like Lyft and Eventbrite. How did you initially get companies like these to adopt your platform versus traditional hiring methods?
Matt: Startups are open to exploring innovative ideas by their very nature, which is why they’ve proven a great place for us to start. We got the wheel spinning by leveraging our founders’ and investors’ personal relationships, along with some nice early press coverage. From there, word of mouth just took over. I’m amazed on a daily basis to log in and see more and more amazing companies signing up, often with minimal effort on our part.
StartupLowdown: Where do you go from here in terms of platform adoption in the tech world with giants like Google, who are known for their unique hiring process?
Matt: Google is well-known for engaging an army of contract recruiters, which I’ve been told numbers more than 900 in a given year. While we’d love to have Google join the scores of other notable Silicon Valley companies finding new talent through Hired, it’s certainly not going to make or break our business.
StartupLowdown: I personally love the idea of a more efficient, more transparent hiring process. Do you think this model could apply to industries outside of the tech industry as well?
Matt: Absolutely! Hired was originally named DeveloperAuction and focused solely on connecting top software engineers with great opportunities. Soon after our launch, when it became clear that our model had some real staying power and was going to be applicable to a huge number of roles, so we rebranded.
Since then, we’ve decided to expand to meet the increasing demand for other roles including UI/UX designers, product managers and data scientists — but we see huge opportunities in other areas for the future as well.
StartupLowdown: We really love that you have worked to streamline the hiring process for both employers and top tech talent. Can you share some of the past difficulties you’ve had in the hiring process and how hired.com solves these issues?
Matt: As an entrepreneur, I’ve tried everything under the sun to find employees who had what I needed, from working simultaneously with some 30 different recruiting agencies to creating job posts to searching on LinkedIn. None of these methods blew me away.
With LinkedIn, for example, I saw that as the volume of recruiters using it soared, InMail response rates plunged proportionally. Some of Hired’s own developers get upwards of 15-20 InMails per week these days! Job boards have seen a steady decline for the past decade, and while they can occasionally generate an influx of applications, the signal to noise ratio is terrible.
My experience with recruiting agencies was that while they’d occasionally deliver the right candidate – along with an invoice often running upwards of $30,0000 – none were able to also deliver consistently good results and they were often a hassle to deal with. Most importantly, agencies’ cost is heavily front-loaded, which is one of the reasons we introduced a 1% monthly pricing plan on Hired.
StartupLowdown: For potential job seekers looking to use Hired to find their next employment, what types of qualities and/or experiences make a good candidate?
Matt: The majority of the companies we work with are VC-funded startups are the hunt for bright, ambitious people, most commonly those with a firm grasp of computer science fundamentals including algorithms and data structures. Engineers are often surprised by the difficulty of the interviews they encounter.
In addition to experience at other startups, these employers are looking for people who are passionate about the companies’ missions. We encourage Hired candidates to really do their homework on companies before agreeing to interview, and our talent advocates work with them to help ensure a best-possible fit.
Still, I’ve seen more than a few capable programmers miss out on good opportunities because interviewers didn’t sense much enthusiasm about what their companies was trying to do. A sincere interest in the company and other indicators of cultural fit are absolutely critical.
StartupLowdown: You recently secured $15mil in Series A funding, led by Crosslink Capital and Sierra Ventures, with the goal of expanding Hired’s reach to cover more of the US and the international market. Where can we expect to see Hired next both in the US and Internationally? And what is your expected timeline for this expansion?
Matt: I’m not at liberty to disclose our expansion plans. I can only tell you to stay tuned because we do indeed have aggressive growth plans for 2014 and beyond!
StartupLowdown: Besides expansion, what can we expect next from Hired?
Matt: We see a lot of opportunity to improve and automate various parts of the Hired process. We’re continually seeking and incorporating feedback from both sides of the marketplace into platform enhancements. In particular, there are tremendous opportunities to improve our capabilities around interview scheduling, interview feedback and integrating with various ATS systems. Video has a lot of potential as well.
StartupLowdown: Just out of curiosity, were any of the hired.com team hired using your platform?
Matt: Yes! We found every one of our software engineers, along with our Data Scientist, Head of Product and Head of Design, through Hired. We consistently eat our own dog food, and while our clients are sometimes surprised to discover we’re competing for the same candidates they are, we continue to believe it’s key to be 100% transparent about what we’re doing.
StartupLowdown: You’ve had the opportunity to observe tens of thousands of interview processes among hundreds of companies. What has surprised you the most?
Matt: I’ve been shocked to discover how slow-moving and indecisive some companies are. Scheduling interviews with a candidate that are one to two weeks apart is a horrible idea; if people are your most important asset, then hiring should be your number one priority, even if that means getting to the office earlier than usual or juggling some internal meetings to make sure your schedule aligns with that of the person you’re trying to recruit.
I’m also surprised by the lack of awareness around salaries and compensation packages. The best companies attract the best talent and manage to keep them there by paying at the top of the market. Apple, Netflix, Google, LinkedIn and many others routinely employ engineering staff who earn $200,000 – $300,000/year including their RSUs (which are as good as cash).
For better or for worse, given the cost of living and housing in Silicon Valley and New York, few proven and experienced engineers will ever take significant pay cuts to join a seed stage company on a salary of $100,000/year.
StartupLowdown: Lastly, with your track record of success (a list that includes co-founding both 99designs and Flippa.com), what advice would you give future entrepreneurs looking to get their start in the business world?
Matt: Stop making excuses and get started, but do it for the right reasons – not just to make money. Building a company is incredibly stressful and takes a huge emotional toll on an entrepreneur. You need a hardened shell, grit and determination to make it through all the ups and downs involved in building a lasting business.
StartupLowdown: Matt, thanks for taking the time to speak with us here at Startup Lowdown. We’re really excited for the future of Hired.com and love what you’ve done to make the recruitment process easier and more efficient for talented job-seekers, while also giving them the advantage of knowing exactly what kind of offers are on the table.
(And friends, if you’re looking for a new gig, check out Hired.com and let them know I sent you!)