A new paradigm for employers with difficulty filling open positions is a shift to skills-based hiring rather than the credential-based model of the past. Many applicants possess skills that aren’t reflected in their work history or educational experience. Tigran Sloyan, Co-founder & CEO at CodeFights shares insights on why the digital economy today can no longer rely on credential-based hiring to meet the demand for technical talent.
Let’s start by briefly introducing CodeFights. In a sentence, what is CodeFights and what’s its unique value proposition?
CodeFights has created a data-driven job marketplace that quantifies both a company’s recruiting process and a technical candidate’s skills, so the right talent can be matched with the right opportunity.
Why do you think there has been a marked shift towards skill-based hiring in recent times?
Simply put, supply and demand. Today, every company requires software engineers so there’s never been a higher demand for quality technical talent than there is now.
For years resume-based recruiting (the process that uses education and job history as the main hiring criteria) has been the standard for recruiting technical talent. However, these days only 2% of engineering candidates have branded pedigrees (i.e. graduated from Stanford or MIT or worked for Google or Facebook) so resume-based recruiting can’t keep up with the current demand for technical talent. Forward-looking recruiters realize that to build a scalable talent acquisition program, they need to look beyond the resume and emphasize a candidate’s skills over their pedigree.
There has been a lot of focus on creating a positive candidate experience lately, how does CodeFights address candidate experience?
In many ways, a poor candidate experience stems from recruiters being overwhelmed with resumes. It’s not uncommon for one job posting to receive 200-300 resumes. By offering a pool of pre-qualified engineers CodeFights is reducing the resume clutter and giving the recruiter and hiring teams the time and energy to offer a better candidate experience.
Do you believe we have a real skills gap in the tech industry or is it just an urban myth?
There’s a lot of data out there supporting the idea of a skills gap. For example, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that in 2020, there will be 1.4 million open technology jobs, but only 400,000 people will graduate from computer science programs. The key flaw in this particular piece of information is ‘will graduate from computer science programs’. Today there are so many online options for gaining skills that a degree in computer science doesn’t have to be the only way to measure a programmer’s skill.
According to Stack Overflow’s 2018 Developer Landscape Survey, 87% of software engineers have taught themselves a new language without taking a formal course, and almost 50% have taken an online course in programming or software development. So, the skills gap depends on the lens a company is using to find technical talent. If a company is open to emphasizing skill over pedigree, then the skills gap is greatly diminished or may not exist at all.
Artificial intelligence is a buzzword in HR, and you being at the intersection of technology and HR, how do you look to Artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc.?
Today, any competitive online application is leveraging machine learning. The capabilities of AI and machine learning are still early, and we don’t see them replacing the human element in technical recruiting or HR any time soon . For CodeFights, machine learning is instrumental in quantifying the knowledge, skills, and process for both individual engineers and a company’s hiring process. It’s key to making the right match between candidates and open positions, but at the end of the day, technology is still just technology. To truly create change, technology has to be adopted and used as a catalyst to change human behavior .
What problems are you looking to solve in the HR space with your offering?
We are trying to get recruiters to change their behavior. We’ve shown recruiters from different organizations incredibly talented candidates whose skills have been carefully measured and analyzed only to hear comments like “but they didn’t go to a good school” or “I don’t like their background”. It’s incredibly hard to unlearn a way of recruiting that’s been a part of you for years, if not decades. However, in an increasingly competitive hiring market, recruiters need to adapt to the changing conditions. We’ve had multiple companies each hire multiple candidates from the CodeFights Community, so we know that when a recruiter is open, skills-based recruiting works extremely well.
What is your take on the massive explosion of HR Tech companies across so many categories? Salesforce as well is making inroads into the HR space. Do you see competition, opportunities to partner and/or integrate?
Many companies are getting into the HR space to focus on employee engagement, retention and information. Once an employee has been hired a company wants to keep that employee motivated and productive. ATS applications like Greenhouse, Lever and SmartRecruiter are all very popular applications that provide better tracking for recruiting, and we have integrations with these applications. It’s a natural fit to integrate our application with other tools that help track and manage the hiring funnel.
What questions are your buyers asking you? How is that impacting your platform’s roadmap? Are there any new features or upcoming upgrades that you’re excited about and would like to give us a sneak peek into?
We recently launched the CodeFights Sourcing Assistant, a Chrome extension that helps recruiters identify higher quality candidates on LinkedIn. The Sourcing Assistant compares a company’s job requirements and hiring information in CodeFights Recruiter to score candidates’ LinkedIn profiles. The assistant helps calibrate the hiring process across the recruiting and engineering teams, increasing the chances that the candidate will be hired. In addition, once a recruiter has identified a LinkedIn user that has a high score, a coding test can be sent from CodeFights to verify the candidate’s skills.