Mark Chaffey, Co-Founder & CEO of hackajob – Interview Series

      

Mark Chaffey is the Co-Founder and CEO of hackajob, a tech careers marketplace that puts the power back in the hands of those working in tech. It works as a reverse marketplace, meaning developers can choose to accept or decline requests from employers and discover roles of interest that are tailored to them.

Could you share the genesis story behind hackajob?

In 2014, I co-founded hackajob with Razvan Creanga who came up with the idea for hackajob after working on other startups and seeing hiring at other organizations. He saw an opportunity to take a more meritocratic approach to the tech recruitment process—a philosophy that has guided our growth at hackajob since day one. Razvan and I were both studying at King’s College London, and he approached me with this great idea for a business and asked if I wanted to go on this journey with him. We raised a small angel round in 2014 from an investor that had backed one of Razvan’s previous startups that kickstarted our growth and it all happened quickly after that. Ultimately our success to date has culminated in our latest milestone—a $25 million Series B raise led by Volition Capital.

What are some of the current challenges for companies to source tech workers?

Historically, recruiting on traditional digital platforms like LinkedIn or Indeed leads to very little engagement. Candidates get spammed so often that they’ve generally limited the visibility of their profiles or do not respond to messages at all. When candidates do apply directly, they get frustrated because they often get ghosted. On the other hand, recruiters are also frustrated because they have to sift through a lot of noise to find quality leads—especially in tech roles with specific required skill sets. At hackajob, we’ve turned the model on its head. Using our platform, candidates have the power to accept or decline requests from employers who reach out after vetting potential candidate matches. 85% of the time, quality candidates respond to those requests moving quality talent into the pipeline.

hackajob is focused not just on talent recruiting assessment but also employer branding. Why is this important?

Employer branding is important for any company, but it is particularly valuable for large, non-tech companies. Think, for example, of some of the biggest big box retailers or hospitality conglomerates. They employ tens of thousands of people, but very few of them, proportionally, are tech employees. An employer that uses hackajob can tailor their page to speak directly to developers. It will only become more critical for non-tech companies to bring on technical talent as they move into the next phase of their digital transformation. It’s a bit of an overused sentiment, but we’ve come to a place where every company is a tech company in some capacity. Targeting the right talent with a strong employer brand is crucial for companies that want to compete and scale.

How does the hackajob platform work in terms of companies sourcing developers and tech talent?

I mentioned it briefly before, but hackajob’s platform is a reverse marketplace, which puts the power into the candidates’ hands. Candidates create a free profile and we match them to relevant job opportunities based on personal preferences, including skills, salary expectations and location. Candidates can share their expertise by uploading their projects from Github or participating in coding challenges within the hackajob platform. On the back end, our platform matches quality candidates with top tech companies and those companies are responsible for proactively reaching out to candidates to begin the interview process. In the last year, hackajob grew its talent pool by 6x, so we are consistently matching highly engaged talent with candidates ready to make a role change. It’s a win-win for employers and candidates.

Low-Code and No-Code tools are often seen as an existential threat to developers, what are your views on these types of tools?

My fundamental belief about any sort of automation is that it enables humans to move more quickly through mundane, repetitive tasks and get back to doing what they do best. People are best at the skills that require critical thinking, empathy and creativity—the things that inspire connection both internally and externally with customers and clients. Low-Code and No-Code are enabling teams to do more with less, meaning that the focus can be on specialization and innovation.

OpenAI’s ChatGPT is able to write reasonably accurate code, how will this impact developers?

The exciting potential of ChatGPT, or GitHub’s co-pilot, which is also powered by OpenAI, is the potential to make developers 10x more effective. While I don’t believe these products will fundamentally replace developers, I do believe that every engineer should be embracing the potential that these products provide. There are still a lot of gray areas to iron out (for example, should content libraries that are used to train the data be compensated or who really owns the IP of a GenAI output), but there is no doubt in my mind that the only way a developer will become obsolete is by not embracing these tools at all. 

How will GAI be used in talent recruiting, especially for DE&I?

We believe that, while technology is a great tool that can help address a lack of employee diversity in the workplace, it is fundamentally a people problem. Meaning, that we should use technology to identify breakdowns in the recruitment process that lead to a lack of diversity rather than using it to filter candidates based on non-skill-based criteria like age, race or gender. For instance, if a company analyzes its hiring pipeline and identifies they have a top-of-funnel or talent attraction problem, one thing it may want to analyze is its career page content, job descriptions and outreach messages. This is a really powerful use case for GAI to create more unbiased content for candidate attraction, leading to more diverse prospects entering the top of the funnel of your hiring process.

What can companies do to ensure ethical and accurate use of AI for talent recruiting to avoid missteps like we saw with Amazon previously?

It’s important companies understand what training data their AI tools have been built on. If you’re using an AI tool that has been trained on an inherently biased data set, it will produce biased outcomes. I’d have a lot of caution about using any AI products to make final decisions in your hiring process right now. Instead, AI should be used to help guide your internal recruiters and hiring managers on potential things they might miss (e.g. complementary skills, biased language, etc) and then empower these people to make the final decision.

What is your vision for the future of hackajob?

Ultimately, every company in the world needs the ability to attract, hire and retain exceptional technical talent in order to be successful over the next decade. However, most companies aren’t digitally native and don’t know how to do this effectively. That’s where we come in—our full-stack talent platform enables companies to adapt every part of their hiring process, from employer brand to sourcing and assessments, to better hire technical individuals. Ultimately, our technology suite becomes the strategic partner organizations need in order to attract the talent today that will help them build the future tomorrow.

Thank you for the great interview, readers who wish to learn more should visit hackajob.

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