Q+A: TalentMatch.AI’s Chris Hollister on Finding Jobs for Engineers

A newly-minted software engineer has many options when looking for a job. She can look up positions on company websites, search on LinkedIn, or use one of several job search engines. Then there are online recruiters — how does she know they’ll help her find the best option? The whole process can be overwhelming. But if thought-through, it can be used as an advantage. This is especially the case considering matching through recruiting agencies.  

One of the ways recruiters can be evaluated smartly is through value. That is, where opportunities to get a job is high and doesn’t cost a lot. Sometimes recruiters find employees for nothing, but mostly, agencies get to charge applicants to help them find a match. The price can be worth it but doesn’t guarantee anyone a job (or a good match).

The employers, interestingly, also have the same value-proposition problem. Some people don’t know this but tech companies all over Silicon Valley pay recruiters to help them find good coders. Similarly, though, they are not guaranteed they’ll get get good value for the fees or a proper employee fit based on their needs.

That’s why it seems that, like with many other aspects of the tech business, the price of matching agencies with qualified employees is quickly moving to zero.

One of the job recruiting companies growing based on value opportunity is Hash Maps Labs’ TalentMatch.AI. Offering to provide matches to both employers and engineers for zero dollars, it has grown since the beginning of the year and has placed coders in companies including Uber, Google, and Amazon.

As TalentMatch.AI prepares for its major event of the year at its San Francisco location, connecting employers to potential software engineers, we spoke to TalentMatch.AI Director Chris Hollister. Our conversation touches on the nature of the recruiting business of software engineers and how the matching actually works on the site.  

The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

There are different ways a company can find an engineer online. How can TalentMatch.AI ensure an employer will be able to find qualified applicants through your platform?

When an engineer signs up to Talentmatch.AI, they get vetted by our staff before ever being approved. And they’re approved by the quality of their technical skills, such as knowledge of a specific coding language.

From there it’s really about the employers or recruiters, the engineers, startup CEOs and anyone else connecting with that individual inside the platform and figuring out together, through interviews, whether they are going to be a right fit. We’re trying to eliminate a technical screen and helping people figure out what is the right fit.

Since you’re looking at a lot of positions and talk with companies, can you give me a sense of what the current U.S. market is for software engineers? What are the biggest trends you’re seeing?

First, companies have a dire need for software engineers who understand AI, Machine & Deep Learning. This does not necessarily mean they want engineers who will be able to create complicated data models. Rather they want engineers who understand how to implement the technologies already created to make the process easier.

Second, supply and demand economics by market are driving hiring. For example, in New York the supply of engineers is short and they are getting snapped-up quick. However, salaries are still much higher in the Bay area.

If engineers want to be vetted by your platform and be a part of this and future  events, what do they need to do?

The best way is to sign up to Talentmatch.AI. If you’re not qualified, we will tell you specifically why and how you can use that advice to develop. For example, someone who can’t pass technical assessments. You have to be technically skilled to be a software engineer. There are great schools that develop engineers like App Academy but also others. 10x club does something similar.

There’s also a space in the event for what you call Advocates. What’s the role of these people at this and future events, as well as in the platform?

The best way to get a job is still through a referral from a person that is in a similar role working at the company. For software engineers, we have a program where those who are employed at their company can use the platform, similar to an employer and recruiter, and find engineers who they think would be a good fit for their company. And they can then refer them. Those advocates can collect their company’s referral bonus, which can be in the thousands, and we also have a $500 bonus we offer, to help people get hired.

How did you pick the engineers that are a part of meet-ups like this one? Are they part of the App Academy family or are they coming from elsewhere?

This event is based in San Francisco and we are able to draw from the App Academy pool there. And 10x Club, the program where currently employed engineers help develop their skills, to find their next role is also a part of it. The pool is diverse: it includes engineers on the TalentMatch.AI platform, many software engineers, and people employed in other roles looking for a job that have also been vetted.

Do you keep up with how an employee does at a company after they get a job?

We’re seeing people who come to TalentMatch.AI get a job through the platform and giving referrals through a person they hired. We’ve seen people who use our system to their executives and they said that they didn’t have to get [their] legal or finance team to sign off on a recruiting agreement and that was a [big positive].

Do other job matching companies offer these one-on-one meetups? 

They do have similar events though I’m not familiar on them. But I can say we’ve done it because we’re trying to eliminate the human element of having to do most of the matching process and drive down the cost of recruiting and end recruiting fees. That’s our primary driver. To still have a human element. And face-to-face interactions like those we see there puts people together in order to know each other better.

It’s also a process: If more people want to check out engineers, they can come.

Our type of vetting, remember, has legitimate opportunities to directly message the engineers available before they even see each other at the event. Or they can even create a position online and invite engineers to that and make that a public position that programmers are allowed to message.

How do you envision these types of events in the new year?

We’ll let the market dictate how the events go on. They are the ones that are coming to see potential employees so they can speed up their process. But we can only do these once a month. And we’ll continue to test. As an advocate, we can connect on the events side any time you want if you get on there.

What do you want to tell anyone who is interested in being part of the TalentMatch.AI platform? 

Sign up and get the process started and if you have questions about it. Email us at [email protected].

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