Enabling Technology

Six Degrees of Separation

The power of connectivity wins the 2013 iTalent competion.
By Maria Cristina Feliciano
Connect6 founders Chris Hohman, Andy Estep, and Senthil Kumar were all facing the same problem: They couldn’t find talent anywhere. Their industries were different—technology, product, and marketing—but their business struggles the same. They couldn’t grow and scale their companies without great talent, and as hiring managers, they found themselves frustrated by the limited recruiting tools available.

“We came at this because we were all hiring managers. We’ve participated in the front lines of the recruiting process, and found existing options out there to be very expensive, and
not very fruitful,” cofounder and CEO Chris Hohman explains. So instead of being continuously frustrated by these options, the three cofounders decided to build a tool to help not only themselves, but also all hiring managers who were in the same boat.

Enter Connect6, a recruiting and social media platform. The technology leverages social media profiles to create a network of connections. In a nutshell, the platform allows recruiters to search networks like Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Github, Stackoverflow, and others to make a connection to great talent.

“Really the whole focus here was how can we connect everybody that’s relevant to the task together, unify them, and make it something that you can extract value from, for the purpose
of finding a job or recruit,” Hohman says. The entrepreneur presented this idea at the 2013 iTalent Competition at the HRO Today Forum in Philadelphia—and won.
Getting Connected
The best way to show the power of connections is through example. Hohman shared a story on stage to demonstrate how a network’s reach can extend far beyond an individual’s.

In 2009, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—the governmental agency responsible for the development of new military technologies—held a challenge that invited teams to find the global positioning coordinates of 10 weather balloons hidden all over the country. A team from MIT tapped into its very large alumni network and asked members to find these balloons and provide the coordinates in exchange for $2,000. However, if an alum was contacted but was not in the right city, they could forward this request to a contact they thought could help, and still get a piece of the reward. Basically everyone who participated in the referral chain would be rewarded.

Despite DARPA’s prediction that this challenge would take weeks to solve, this team did it in seven hours. And every single person who participated was rewarded.

Hohman observes, “Any metric you look at, a person who is referred into an organization tends to be a better fit, a stronger candidate all around, and have a leg up because generally, someone who is referred into an organization already has a sense of cultural connections and fit. It’s just a more powerful way to go.”

Industry reports support Hohman’s argument. Research by Dr. John Sullivan & Associates from ere.net shows that referral hires have significantly higher business impact because they produce approximately 25 percent more profit impact, and have a 10 to 13 percent higher retention rate than workers hired from other sources.

But not all organizations have a set referral program nor do all employees have a large reach. “I think what’s hard about referrals is that if you don’t have a large network, it’s
time consuming to allow it in and seek referrals through your own network manually,” Hohman explains.

Hohman sought to solve both problems through technology. How does it work?
At its beta stage, Connect6 has gathered public information from more than 300 million active social network profiles from across the web and variousindustries. In addition to finding candidate names and basic information, things like contributions, projects, and skills are extracted from various niche social networks such as GitHub or Quora, in order to create a dynamic and comprehensive professional profile. Once these profiles are created, this platform for search allows a sourcer or recruiter to see how they are linked to a potential
job candidate. The path is revealed—it could be a colleague at a previous company or a former college alum.
“You can aggregate your connections in your organization to provide a warm introduction,” Hohman notes, and the odds of actually reaching that talent are significantly increased. Hohman reports that chances of connecting through a warm lead are one in two, whereas through a cold call are one in 20.

In addition to creating connectivity, the platform goes further and delivers many other components of the recruiting process to make it integrated and seamless. “Recruiting and sourcing is one part of the overall process—we give all the building blocks for a one-stop shop in one place,” he says.
Other features include:

  • The ability to post these jobs at dozens of free and paid job sites and boards, including Glassdoor, Simply Hired, and Monster.
  • Full integration with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
  • Full-featured applicant tracking system.
  • Internal tools for scheduling interviews and
  • communicating with the hiring team.
  • Mobile application support.
  • Tools (location, skills, relevance of keywords,
  • connections) to help narrow search.
  • Skills analysis that summarizes key strengths.

“We have a host of features designed to help remove the friction of the hiring process and increase the quality of hire,” Hohman notes, “So there is a lot of stuff on here that help the person on the front line doing the work, and makes it one process so that we don’t have to go to 10 different sites to get this done.”

Continuous Improvement
“Connect6 is a game changer,” Hohman says. “We’ve got some amazing technology. Talent is within your reach. Simple, smart and effective.”

Hohman says the technology continues to work in Beta by onboarding customers and working with a few larger clients to ensure they are delivering the value. Tweaks and customizations are being made before the product fully launches.

Client feedback couldn’t be better. A real estate services company is leveraging the platform for business development and is successfully gaining clients, and a recruitment process outsourcing firm is testing Connect6’s ability to distribute to job boards and run talent searches.

There may be a time soon where everyone will want to get connected.
Liberation from LinkedIn

At the iTalent Competition, Hohman expressed that Connect6 would liberate recruiters from LinkedIn.

“LinkedIn are fantastic partners. We couldn’t make our tool as valuable without partnering with LinkedIn,” he says, “The challenge with LinkedIn today is that most passive candidates have very stale profiles. Many of these individuals have not updated their information in one to two years.”

Hohman explained that by sourcing candidate profiles from outside LinkedIn, recruiters are then able to get a much more recent account of candidates, and learn more about their most recent actions, interests and skills.

“Ultimately, we see LinkedIn as a partner more than a competitor. LinkedIn is the professional network, but it is not necessarily the best recruiting tool. We aim to fill the gap between the professional networks and the front line recruiter/hiring manager,” Hohman says.

Tags: Enabling Technology, HRO Today Forum APAC, HRO Today Forum Europe, HRO Today Forum North America, HRO Today STA

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