Ensuring Fair Hiring in the Midst of a Pandemic
Balazs Alexa ’11 and Jean Meyer ’11 first joined entrepreneurial forces to create dating service DateMySchool while still students at the Business School. They’ve now moved to a different type of matchmaking – career site Wanted, which pairs top employers with vetted talent. Wanted emphasizes user experience and ease: all you need to get started is your desired salary and your LinkedIn profile – the site does the rest.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people around the country have lost their jobs. Below, Alexa and Meyer share their insights into the job market, the economy, and how to optimize your job search.
All you need to do to use Wanted is submit your desired salary and your LinkedIn page – why no traditional resumes or profiles?
Meyer: When people ask if we are sure about leading with salaries, I say, “absolutely.” Salary is the one metric that everyone understands. It’s also a metric where we see a lot of inequalities right now: the same position at the same company may pay differently depending on the worker’s gender and race. We believe that creating a transparent marketplace where companies commit to a salary for a role before they’ve seen an applicant’s profile will help create a more equal distribution of salaries. What we’ve seen is that salary discussions always come last in the interview process. You can have multiple rounds of interviews only to get to the one metric that really interests you at the very end. Even if you’re offered your dream job that you are passionate about and that will make the most impact, if it doesn’t pay your rent, you won’t take it. That’s why we want to get salary out of the way immediately so you can focus on the rest.
Alexa: For traditional headhunters, the recruiting process is really about earning a commission. For us, it is all about the talent. We try to make talent the center of our platform and offer an easy process, legal protections, and salary guarantees that are equitable regardless of an applicant’s race or gender. This is our focus, so we have the luxury of thinking about how to make the product better for the people using it.
Unemployment is at an all-time high and many people are searching for new positions: have you seen an uptick in applicants on Wanted?
Alexa: There is a massive shock to the economy right now, of course, and people are losing their jobs left and right. In response, we quickly launched a new platform called Switch, to help those who lost their jobs find a new company. Startups or any companies that are going bankrupt or going out of business and are laying off massive numbers of people can post their list of candidates looking for opportunities on Switch and we will work to find them new jobs. We are doing this free of charge for companies and talent; we just want to make it easier for people to transition. On Wanted, we are also seeing a higher influx of people who have just lost their jobs. But we are also seeing people who are still employed, but who are nervous that they could suddenly lose their job and want to have other options ready. We’ve seen an uptick in the number of candidates who sign up just to make sure they have offers in the bag should they need them.
Meyer: While many businesses are suffering, many big digital startups are actually doing well right now. Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook – they are not being hit by the current crisis and are doing just fine. In the last 30 days, we’ve had more than 100 companies, including those big tech names, reaching out to us and asking for help in terms of talent placement. We are having to turn down companies at the moment because we are still small.
What can applicants do to stand out from the pack and get noticed by companies?
Alexa: It all comes down to what you can contribute to your next role. You should lead with your skills and what you are good at. Be precise, especially about your last position. If you are precise enough about your skills, we will find you a job in no time.
Meyer: My one rule is no BS. Be as straightforward on your LinkedIn as you can be. It’s about your skills and what you’ve done previously. Companies will find out eventually if you lied.
What are your predictions for the job market?
Meyer: Right now, we are in the middle of a major health crisis. History has proven that opportunities often arise from a crisis. In the next few years we will see jobs and companies that don’t exist right now. Just as we are all behaving in different ways right now, companies and industries also will need to change and adapt. This means new job skills will be desirable in the future.
Alexa: I think that in the long term, this crisis will give a huge boost to productivity in the economy. We will invent tools that help people travel less, so they will have more time, and can be more productive and contribute to economic activity more. There will be new money to hire people down the road, new industries, new positions. People should use this time at home to polish up their skills, try to learn something new that is valuable to companies right now, and sign up for Wanted or another job-search platform and put themselves out there. There have been only incremental changes over the last decade to the way we work, but now we are forced to endure a major shift and I think the economy will come back stronger in the medium to long term as these changes will boost productivity.