Edward Snowden was fired today by his employer Booz Allen.  The 29-year-old has been both vilified as a traitor and also held up as a modern day Daniel Ellsberg for recently exposing federal eavesdropping programs.  Regardless of where you fall on his actions, it’s clear that contracting firms like Booz are now in the spotlight with respect to vetting employees – particularly for contractors with security clearances.  This experience raises questions such as “what more could we have done done” and “what did we miss and when?”  How well do you know your employees?  What steps do you take and how early in your recruiting process do you collect and validate candidate data?  Does it make sense to engage candidates early on in the process both to better understand that individual and obtain additional pointer data to validate particular experience?  Shouldn’t you do more to understand an individual before you hire them and entrust them with your company’s data – and even more so with respect to protecting state secrets as a cleared professional?  And shouldn’t you leverage processes and technologies to document this data collection and validation?  What is the downside in not doing so?  Booz Allen and others may be about to find out.

While Acertiv is not a “background check” in that we don’t attempt to validate typically the same data as traditional screeners, we appreciate the mention from Todd Raphael and the good folks at ERE.  Most recruiters describe us in fact as a “frontground” check in that we give them some added confidence that a particular individual is a good fit for a position before they invest the additional time in an interview or in presenting someone new to the hiring manager.

Thomas Murphy of The Ladders ginned up a fair amount of discussion in a recent posting which highlighted some interesting statistics about jobseeker behavior.  Essentially the point is made that many applicants fail to invest much time in reading the posting – specifically the job requirements – prior to making a decision to apply.  A study by The Ladders revealed:

  • Job seekers self-report spending up to 10 minutes viewing a job
  • On average, they actually only spend between 39.7 and 76.7 seconds
  • Job seekers are able to identify good fits at a rate of only 38%
  • On average, 62% of recruiter-reviewed resumes are a complete waste

The reality is that applicants are encouraged to apply far and wide without regard to paying much attention as to whether they are qualified.  They might hope the Applicant Tracking System on the employer side smiles down upon their carefully chosen key words to select them.  And if they’re not selected?  Well, they’ve applied to another 150 jobs in the next 90 minutes – so at some point they to hit pay dirt.

Many recruiters recognize that the resumes often aren’t even written by the candidates and so offer little insight into an individuals abilities to think, structure and express themselves.  And the point, click, submit nature of applications today lends little opportunity to understand a candidate and how their experience relates to specific job requirements.  Perhaps there’s a better way?

We’re excited to add Ed Shenker who joined us late last year as our SVP of Sales and Marketing.  Ed has successfully built and led sales organizations at leading background screening firms including Sterling Infosystems and most recently Verifications Inc.  Ed’s skills get us to the enterprise buyers as we move forward with scaling the business.  He’ll lead our sales and marketing efforts and is already in the process of adding additional team members.  You can read his bio here for more information.  Welcome Ed!

We are very excited to officially announce the launch our service to the broader market at the 15th Annual HR Technology Conference and Exposition in Chicago today.  We look forward to meeting customers and partners at our booth 1149 as well as at the various events during the show.

Acertiv was profiled in the Capital Business Section of Sunday’s Washington Post.  China Gorman who was quoted in the article, is an advisor to the Company and was formerly the COO of SHRM – the Society for Human Resources Management – the world’s largest HR Association.

Acertiv was invited to apply to a recent pitching event in San Francisco sponsored by the law firm of Wilson Sonsini.  140 companies applied for an opportunity to win one of 10 coveted booths for the 3 day DEMO 2012 event in Santa Clara, CA.  Acertiv was one of 25 applicant companies invited to do a 3 minute live pitch followed by 3 minutes of Q&A before judges from a number of Venture Capital firms in San Francisco last Tuesday, September 19th.  And we’re now looking forward as one of the winning companies to enjoying the opportunity to showcase our company at DEMO October 1-3.

I read a nice blog post from another local startup – Remarkable Hire – which talks about the difference between “social influence” and “social evidence” and the part it plays in recruiting.  The article makes the point that candidates can become very adept at generating their own “buzz” using various social media but this buzz does not necessarily translate into a higher quality candidate.  Much as candidates can manipulate their resumes (and do), individuals are becoming very savvy when it comes to “tweeting” their own horns.  “Social evidence,” however, attempts to get at a measure of how an individual contributes actual knowledge (presumably they possess it first in order to be able to share it) with various online communities.  For example you might answer questions on Quora or a community for developers such as Stack Overflow and over time this provides social evidence.  It will be interesting to see how Remarkable Hire goes about packaging views into such social evidence and making it digestible/useable for jobseekers and hiring firms.  But sounds like another promising effort from a local DC startup.

The social evidence vs. influence discussion also made me think about recent attempts to “gameify” the job search process.  A startup riding on Facebook called Identified.com recently received more than 20 million in funding promising in part to bring “gamification” to the hiring process.  But as my Co-Founder Noah points out (he spent 20 years building video games), “gamification” is about incentives and if I’m looking to hire someone for  a job do I want the person who “won” the game sitting in front or me? Or do I want to speak with the candidate who seems based upon available evidence to have the skills and experience that meet the requirements for a given job?

We were recently invited to join up with AOL and it’s Fishbowl Labs at the AOL campus in Dulles, VA.  Many thanks to Fletcher Jones, Brian McMahon and Bud Rosenthal at AOL for putting together some fantastic space and resources for startups housed there including Speek, VillagizeCont3nt.com and Ryo Media.  We enjoyed our first week getting settled and the sharing of knowledge and fun among fellow startups and the AOL community is already well underway.

A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted an essay written by Peter Cappelli, a professor of management and human resources at Wharton.  In it Capelli argues that the increasing use of technologies such as Applicant Tracking systems, combined with incredibly detailed and long lists of job requirements make it appear to recruiters using such systems that qualified candidates do not exist for advertised positions.  Cappelli points out that in many cases, there are applicants out there who can do these jobs and likely do them well – despite the fact that their resumes don’t contain each and every buzz word or job title that might jibe with the job posting and requirements.

When I speak with recruiters, they have a real fear about filling positions with potentially unqualified applicants. They have so many positions to fill and rely on technology to “cull the herd” and find the “best qualified applicants.”  And while they may admit in conversation that there are many candidates out there who submit resumes that are not an exact match as determined by the applicant tracking system, they tell me that the safe bet is to let the ATS make the call on selection for further review rather than invest time learning more about the qualifications of other candidates who if time were available for further review might in fact be a better fit.  

Recruiters are overwhelmed.  Hiring managers write incredibly detailed descriptions and the likelihood of finding anyone who exactly matches each and every requirements is unlikely.  

The purpose of CVCertify is to enable candidates to show how they meet key requirements – those that are really central to be able to perform in a given role.  We enable recruiters to quickly hone in on those candidates and their particular experience that demonstrates their ability to meet such requirements. 

The lesson to be learned from Professor Cappelli is that hiring managers need to cast a bit wider net and understand what really are key “must haves” in terms of prior experience and which are requirements a candidate can come to meet by learning on the job.  Technology has moved the balance too heavily in the direction of recruiters being forced to look for “unicorns” – in this case candidates who precisely match a laundry list of “requirements” that may or may not in fact adequately define the skills and experience necessary to do the job.  Instead it may be better to bet on a strong pony who can show how he or she meets the broad requirements.


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