Online recruitment: hacking the hiring process

Employers score candidates' "hacks" before choosing someone for the role.

A group of final-year university students have come up with a system that streamlines how employers recruit technical specialists and helps them to get a better idea of their skills. 

Much of the innovation in the HR tech market at present appears to be coming from recruitment, whether in the shape of mobile apps, or skills marketplaces of different types and descriptions.

But there cannot be many that have been put together by a group of lads in their final year at university after having spotted a gap in the market.

However, this was definitely the case with, which is due to go live in June, at around the same time as its founders complete their business management degrees at King’s College London.

Hackajob was the brainchild of Razvan Creanga, who, while doing some software development work for a large corporate company to help pay off his student loan, noticed how clunky the process of hiring developers and programmers was.

Together with his friend Mark Chaffey, he came up with a solution to the problem and started developing the online recruitment equivalent of a dating website in autumn 2014.

Matchmaking skills

The site itself is based on an algorithm developed by Creanga, which compares applicants’ stated top five skills and location, with the requirements laid out by employers in order to create a match.

The second stage of the process involves asking candidates five or six knowledge-based questions about their chosen development language, such as Java, before inviting them to take part in a “hack” or programming challenge.

Each hack lasts for between 10 and 30 minutes and participants are given a “hack score” at the end.

Rollo Shaw, the firm’s business development manager, and a fellow student of Creanga and Chaffey, said: “What employers are provided with is a list of applicants and their match and hack scores – and, in both instances, the higher, the better. The process saves them a lot of time because they get a really good understanding of the level and ability of candidates.”

So far, more than 2,000 hacks have taken place and 100 employers have used the site’s online recruitment services, with about 50 being live at the moment. It costs employers £199 to advertise one job for a month, with discounts added once more posts are made available.

On top of this, Hackajob has also started hosting monthly meet-ups in a London pub to provide employers and developers with face-to-face networking opportunities.

Funding for the future

As to how the friends have managed to fund all of this to date, they have received £15,000 from a private angel investor, which has enabled them to take on three former King’s graduates to help with marketing and site development.

The aim now is to raise another £250,000 from a range of avenues including further angels, venture capitalists and incubators, with the ultimate goal, if it all comes off, of expanding into the established tech hubs of New York and San Francisco next year.

“We plan to launch in a couple of months after we’ve made the platform as good as it can possibly be,” said Shaw. “We’re all working full time on this, and – on the side – have got the little matter of a degree to pass, so it’s been a bit hectic.”

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