Company candidate pool, you have one?

What is the first place a recruiter would look for candidates when a new requirement comes up? Does it happen to be Dice, Monster, Naukri, your vendor network or the latest jazzy candidate aggregator?

For most companies the answer is YES.

What about an in-house database that specifically caters to your company? Do you have one that you can tap into before venturing out to look for candidates?

For most companies the answer is NO.

There is a continuous flow of incoming profiles into any organization, be it referrals, social channels, career pages, job ads or the profiles viewed by recruiters daily. Today these profiles go into a black hole within the organization to be lost for ever.

What if you could leverage these incoming profiles for future requirements? The idea is simple, but the challenges in making this happen have resulted in most companies never bothering about their existing candidate pool. The challenges are almost entirely the lack of technology to make this happen. It is impossible to manage a candidate pool of any reasonable size manually, without the help of technology.

Why cant resume aggregator’s be your primary candidate pool?

Most companies today treat external databases like Dice, Monster and Naukri as if they are an extension of their company resource pool to tap into for hiring. This state of affairs also says a lot about the value created by these aggregation companies and their obvious dominance in the recruitment market over the last decade.

But do not forget the reality that you are competing with other firms for candidates on these eco-systems. You and your competitors are tapping into a common pool of candidates.

The basic feature of all these platforms irrespective of the sophisticated language used in their marketing and the intelligent technology that is pitched – the product being sold are the candidates. The implication of this reality is that the same candidate is being pitched to as many companies as possible.

How does that affect you? Every one of these hires becomes a battle you need to win against the other firms.

Does this mean you should not use these platforms? Not at all. These platforms are a good source of candidates, especially those actively looking for a job at the moment. But the mistake is in treating these as your exclusive or primary candidate pool, which they are not. They should be one of your many sources of profiles in addition to organic sources like referrals, social hiring, career sites and more. You need to leverage all available channels to build your own candidate pool which should be your edge in the hiring market.

The danger is when the recruitment team is lulled into treating these aggregators as your company pool to tap into. The reality of higher no-shows, lower quality of candidates and extended time to hire being a consequence is of this decision is not obvious.

So go ahead, build and leverage your own candidate pool, done right it is possible for more than 50% of your hiring to come from this pool.

Consciousness vs intelligence in AI

One is the many confusions in the field of AI is the mixing of the idea of intelligence and consciousness.

Humans are both conscious AND intelligent beings. There is possibly a dependency of one on the other, especially of consciousness on intelligence, but they are distinct features of our mind.


Consciousness in its simplest form can be defined as the “awareness of our own being – of our own existence moment after moment relative to the world”. This itself is a disputed definition but can be a good starting point to understand consciousness. Even this simplistic definition is mind boggling if you think about it. We don’t yet understand why there was a need for such self awareness in higher order animals like humans and how this feature evolved. The current assumption is that lower order amoeba has almost no such self awareness.

Consciousness as a feature has not yet been replicated in machines even in its most rudimentary form. Consciousness is still in the realms of philosopical discussions and slowly moving into the domain of neuroscience. Hopefully someday it might enter the mathematical/engineering domain, but we are not there yet.


In its simplest form intelligence is the ability to “acquire and apply knowledge and skill”

There are varied opinions on this definition too, but there is enough understanding that allowed for the idea to enter into the computational space. What we see today as AI systems are our effort to simulate intelligence in machines.

Even the lowly calculator was an effort to replicate mathematical intelligence, and today a calculator is “smarter” than us in its ability to perform mathematical operations. But interestingly we dont worry much about the calculator being smarter than us.

Intelligence is measurable, be it logical, mathematical, creativity or even social intelligence. Along each dimension we can have a rough definition of what intelligence is and how to measure it. This makes it possible to simulate a version of this intelligence in machines, which we have been attempting to do with good success in the recent years.

Fear of AI in this context

People perceive AI differently based on their understanding of the topic.

Fear of conscious AI – People mostly un-related to the field and read articles bout AI in articles and op-eds assume we are en-route to building a human like intelligence with consciousness and intelligence combined. An image that gets conjured up is a machine with intent. In a dystopian version, even with an intent to destroy us. This imagined world is something we are not even remotely close to. Conscious intelligent systems are theoretically possible, but we have made no headway in that direction.

AI as a smarter software – AI engineers/scientists think of the systems they are building as machines that have the ability to recognize pattern and apply it back to achieve some useful purpose. They simply cannot fathom a world where this pattern learning/application system suddenly becomes one with intent and turns destructive.

Fear of decision making systems – There is a third category which includes philosophers and scientists who have abstracted the possibilities/challenges we are going to encounter in the future. In this world view we are en-route to a much more complex AI (without consciousness) that will be built by engineers who do not have a good understanding of the unintended consequences of the goals they set into these machines. This can result in actions by the machines with bad consequences for us. A few examples:

  • A system continuing the racial or gender bias within an organization by “learning” from the organization itself (This is already a challenge today).
  • A Car that decides (algorithmically) to kill the driver to save 2 pedestrians or vice-versa. This is a challenge we are going to face very soon, but we dont have a good handle of the legal and ethical implications yet.
  • (Warning: Futuristic wonky example) A scenario where a machine built to anticipate the wellbeing of a human get a command of “help me end my mental agony” after a divorce and goes ahead to kill the person painlessly as the most effective way of ending the suffering.

This category of concerns is legitimate, and needs further thinking by both philosophers and engineers. Only engineers will not be able to figure this out. We need to think of these issues without jumping into the wonky scenarios too early.

As for a conscious AI, we will have to experience them in movies for a few more decades before having to worry.

Rethinking SKILL, and working on it

At HireWand we have been treating skill as a single term, be it “Java” or “Programming”. Over the last few months we have come to realize this is an incomplete model to represent a candidate’s capability. This is also not how recruiters think about skills when they interact with a candidate.

Through many a conversations with recruiters, we have built a new model to think about skills that better reflect the screening that a recruiter or hiring manager does.

A typical conversation between a candidate and a recruiter – “I have been programming in Java for the last 5 years”, “I have worked on B2B sales“, “I have specialized in lead generation for enterprise SaaS products“. You will recognize here that the section underlined reflect the candidate skill.

Lets take one example – “I have been programming in Java for the last 5 years”. Here Java – programming is the skill. Before we dissect this part, lets consider a few variations:

  • Java or php  programming
  • Java architecture
  • Java training

Can you see a pattern now?

Though both experience in Java and programming can be considered as stand alone skills of the candidate, it is obvious that experience in “Java programming” is different from experience in “Java architecture”. Java is the area of specialization and is common between the 2 skills. Programming is the specific activity where the candidate’s competency lies in. Both together reflect the candidate’s skill. This is reflected in the model we plan to use in HireWand to define a candidate skill:

Every skill is composed of skill-area and skill-activity. Skill activity is the activity that the candidate has acquired competency in, and the skill area is the domain/area where the competency was built in.

In our example Java is the skill-area and programming is the skill-activity. This way of thinking about skills allows HireWand to rank the candidates much more accurately. It also allows us to architect some very cool capabilities within HireWand. We will keep you updated on these over the next few weeks.

Search happens to be the first change where we have incorporated with this new model.

We have ensured backward compatibility for all our existing searches and also ensured the default usage remains the same as before. Hence, no learning curve for existing users. Having said that we strongly recommend you use the new search model when you create a new requirement. You will see more accurate results.

An example of why you should use the new search metaphor – A search for Java – programming will return a Java programmer as a better fit than a “Java trainer” who also had experience in “php programming”.

Now you can build searches like “Java, J2EE – programming <Mandatory>” or “B2B – Sales <Preferred>”.

This is a big change within HireWand and lays the foundation of the roadmap we have built for our matching capability. We have some very useful features lined up over the next few weeks that leverage this new skill model. You will hear from us about these soon.

Please feel free to send us your feedback or queries.

Feature: Interest check

HireWand helps you create and build your own candidate pool. The pool may have profiles you got an hour back or one that you got two years back. As an organization you would want to leverage both.

For your new requirement you would likely want to call up the excellent fit candidates whose resumes you have received recently. This is not an option for older profiles since the ratio of the number of candidates who may still be interested in this requirement is going to be very low. We know from our clients experiences this ration is around 3-5%.

For the older profiles leverage you first want to check the candidate’s interest in the particular requirement before talking to them.  You don’t want to call up 2000 candidates to find that 50 of them are interested. HireWand makes this process easy for you with 2 features:

Interest check mail

As soon as a new search or a new requirement is created the recruiter will see this suggestion popping up.

They can click through this dialog and send out a mail to all the inactive candidates. The candidates will see an interest check mail with the JD and their own resume attached. They can choose to indicate their interest by picking one of the options from:



When the candidate shows interest the recruiter will be notified through mail. The recruiter only needs to talk to the interested good-fit candidates. As an organization this also enables quality engagement with the candidates in the candidate pool.

Bulk mail send

The recruiter can also choose to send a mail to a subset of candidates. This can be done by clicking on the send mail option for a specific requirement. There are 2 ways of doing this:

  • Multi-select the candidates and click on “send mail”. In this case a mail goes out to only the candidates chosen.
  • The other option is to click on “Send mail” for a requirement without multi-selecting any candidate. The recruiter will be asked to define the rule to pick the candidates from within the requirement. The default happens to be “Profiles in Inactive stage with good or excellent fit-rating”

Please go ahead and use our interest check feature to generate active leads from your existing database. In all it takes less than 2 minutes per requirement. Go ahead try it out …

Also feel free to send us any feedback you may have.

New Feature note: statistics

We are happy to release the statistics page in HireWand. The goal is to make it easier for administrators to understand the usage and stats across recruiters in the team. You will now see a new menu item in our main menu:


The stats provided is for a default period of 10 days:

  • Count of the requirements created by the recruiter.
  • Count of the notes added by the recruiter.
  • Count of the stages changed by the recruiter.
  • Count of the tags set to candidates by the recruiter.
  • Count of the resumes found from the folder watch app of the recruiter.
  • Count of the resumes pulled from the mail account added by the recruiter.
  • Count of the resumes pulled from the HireWand Assist app for the recruiter.

The statistics page also shows the last time the recruiter logged in into the web application, the last time a file was pushed from the folder watch app and the Assist app of the recruiter.

A request here for HireWand users. Please feel free to tell us what other statistics you find missing, that can add value to you. For example, would you want to see statistics for each requirement? If so what summarized information would you like to see there. Please add your comments to this blog post and we will definitely pick it up for consideration.

How companies do resume screening and shortlisting

[Motivated by the query on quora –]

Most decent sized companies receive hundreds if not thousands of resumes a week from their various source. How each company handle these resumes varies. For simplicity I would put them under three broad categories:

Manual screening

Most companies fall under this category. The recruiters download resumes from multiple sources such as job ad responses to their mail accounts, resumes received at their career pages or resumes from recruitment/staffing firms. The recruiters focus on manually screening the profiles for the requirements they are handling at the moment. A typical recruiter can handle screening around 100 resumes a day. If the incoming volume is more than it there will be many profiles that gets missed. This is a very leaky screening process.

Here the candidate profiles that have been received previously or have been received by a different recruiter never gets looked at. It is humanly not possible to do so.

This is tragic for both the companies and the candidates as it is quite possible there is an excellent fit candidate for this opening already with the company or within the newly received profiles that got overlooked.

Simple cataloging

Some companies catalog the resumes by adding notes and tags to the profiles so that they can be pulled up sometime in the future. They use simple available tools to do this. This practice goes back in time where good quality recruiters would maintain a summary note of all good candidates they have connected with. This allows them to leverage these candidates when there is a new opening.

The tools used in this case are rudimentary, such as Excel sheets, gmail (with tags), ATS etc., Recruiters who follow this practice are also very rare.

Screening tools

Recently a few companies have started using automation solutions (Like HireWand). The software here pulls up the best fit candidates for a requirement from already existing profiles that the company has received. The goal is to ensure a good candidate profile never gets missed. These would be the kind of companies where you will hear back when a new opening comes up that matches your profile. The software also looks out for good candidates from the incoming flow of resumes across the various channels.

The third category of companies are few in number. The goal of HireWand is to be a pioneer in this space.

The existential question – Why are we here?

Today, there are so many recruitment solutions out there, with a new one coming up every month and many disappearing into oblivion every month. The interesting question is, why are we trying to solve this challenge when there are so many out there already?

To get to an answer to this existential question let’s try to figure out:

  1. What are the biggest sources of candidates for companies today?
  2. What are the solutions out there in the market and check how they help in improving recruitment efficiency? and

Finally, let’s look at the reasons why a solution like HireWand would be needed in spite of the many solutions out there in the market.

Source of candidates

Who better to answer this question than LinkedIn? Check out the chart published by LinkedIn in their global trends paper for 2015:

Linkedin Source

Notice something interesting about the top sources? These are Internet job boards, Social professional networks, Company career websites and Employee referral programs. All of these bring in large numbers of resumes through which the recruiter needs to wade through to find the right candidates for different jobs.

Now check “Internet resume databases” on the chart, way down South.  Downloads from Job Portals fall within this bucket. There is a widespread notion that Job Portals happens to be the primary source of hiring in companies. When you spend some time digging through the data of any company you realize this is a myth prevalent across the industry. The chart above clearly breaks this myth. Why such a false notion is so prevalent is a topic for another blog post.

I believe the data in the last section speaks to us of a potentially huge opportunity that companies today are missing out on. To understand this, let’s think of the 3 primary factors that a firm is concerned about in hiring:

  1. Lead time to hire
  2. Quality of hire
  3. Cost of hiring

Let’s consider the new age recruitment solutions again – do they really help in improving all the above factors for a company? Let’s see:

Promise of quality: Many solutions out there promise quality candidates, either selected through better pre-screening or through tests. These “solutions” then charge the companies more than 15% CTC for every hire. So are these really even SaaS services or are they recruitment firms masquerading as a product?

The cooler version of Naukri: So many solutions pitch the value of “we are better than Naukri because _____”. You can fill up that blank with any conceivable reason, be it ease of use (swipe, swipe swipe), speed of hiring (24 hour offers), short circuiting notice periods (a competition to break commitments anyone?), reverse auction and so on. These short term differentiators do not seem to stand a chance against the brand and traction that Naukri already has. These new solutions simply add to the list of sources that the recruiter needs to deal with already. They only add to the overheads on the recruiter, add to the cost of hire with no impact on quality of hire and a marginal reduction in lead time.

Specialized solutions: Vertical-specific solutions, especially around referral hiring and social hiring, promising employee engagement with gamification and of finding candidates from employee networks by simply tapping into their LinkedIn network are in vogue. Referrals are definitely an excellent source of resumes, but are still just one of the 4 main sources. Hence they cannot be the one solution the recruiter can depend on, to help with shortlisting.

Passive candidate search: These solutions tend to draw profiles from GitHub, LinkedIn, Stack Overflow, Meetup groups and more. The idea is to aggregate profiles across these sites and present a single view. They also provide search across these profiles to surface the right candidates. There are a few challenges with passive candidate search:

  • Most candidates are passive and by nature do not respond positively to either the job or your company. This adds a huge cost to the recruiter who has to sift through these profiles manually, calling each of them up, impacting lead times and cost of hire. The situation is made worse with the same top candidates appearing in the list for most companies and naturally getting tired of calls from recruiters. The fatigue that sets in results in quick refusal for any calls made to them making the job so much more difficult for the recruiter.
  • This pool is a small number compared to the large pool of quality candidates who today, are putting in their time working for organizations and less time in presenting themselves in these open forums.
  • The legality of public crawling of these sites (especially LinkedIn) is suspect.
  • A new trend of more and more “posers” presenting themselves on these public sites for jobs is making matters worse. Their carefully crafted profiles with copied code, duplicate project etc., do not represent the real capabilities of the candidate.


HireWand : Making Recruiters Life Easy

A recruiter’s life is centered on finding the right candidate for the job with focus on the number of openings that get closed. At the same time, a candidate’s focus is on finding the best job possible for themselves. For this to happen, the right candidate needs to be seen by the recruiter who has a job that is best fit for the candidate. Sounds easy enough, but there are huge challenges in making this happen efficiently.

The recruitment solutions today

Most, if not all, recruitment solutions out there are fighting over who is a better source of candidates.  It is a rat race, with new solutions popping up every few months and existing ones dying out at a similar rate.

Is HireWand, to build yet another solution attempting to be a BETTER source of candidates? The answer to this question is clearly NO.

Our answer

We clearly did not want to be yet another source of candidates for the firms to deal with. We wanted to be a tool in the hands of the Recruiters to make their hiring more efficient.

When you look back at the top sources of profiles, all of them leverage your brand and are sources where the candidate has chosen to apply to your firm and possibly for a specific job. By doing this, candidates send across 3 signals:

  • That they are looking out
  • They are interested in your firm
  • They are interested in the specific job if they applied for it.

These signals significantly increase the possibility of a positive response when you connect back to the candidate for a specific job.

This is where the challenge lies today. It is not humanly possible to efficiently leverage these sources. This is definitely not due to lack of intent, but due to lack of tools that enable the recruiter to leverage these sources. The challenge can be explained in 3 stages in the lifecycle of profiles within a firm:

1) The challenge when a new profile is received

A typical mid-sized Company has multiple active openings at any time. As a result, hundreds of resumes are received every single day. Manual viewing of every profile is simply impossible and results in missed quality candidates. Now imagine a virtual recruiter matching every profile with every active requirement diligently, consistently and objectively at any scale. This virtual recruiter alerts the owner of the appropriate opening when a good match is found. No more missed profile, no more wasted time looking through hundreds of profiles to find that one good one and no more waiting for days to get through the pile of resumes. The recruiter only looks at quality candidates and shortlists from there, freeing up time to focus on the more human aspect of hiring.

2) The challenge in searching through recently received profiles

With hundreds of resumes coming in every day a good candidate is easily lost in the existing pile of resumes. Most candidate profiles received in the previous 4 months are found to be active. It then makes a lot of sense to leverage these resumes for a new opening. But this is an almost impossible exercise if done manually. This is literally equivalent to searching for a needle in a haystack. Imagine a person going through thousands of resumes to find 10 good candidates to call for an interview. Simple binary search tools available in ATS solutions are of no use with their rudimentary string search. What is needed is a shortlisting tool that can pull up the best fit candidates for the requirement and present it to the recruiter to look at. HireWand is that tool.

3) The challenge in searching through older profiles that fit

Many recruiters think profiles that are older than 3-4 months are useless. This belief comes from their legitimate experience of finding that a small number of the candidates from this database are still looking out for a job. But imagine letting a virtual recruiter like HireWand automatically check with the candidate if they are interested in pursuing the specific job opening. The recruiter only needs to talk to the candidates who have responded positively and are a good fit for that opening. With Zero effort from the recruiter, they now have another shortlist of interested quality candidates from the firm’s own database.

HireWand – taking the first steps

HireWand’s goal is to be a tool to help companies leverage their own pool of candidates thereby reducing time to hire and leading time while helping with quality of hire.

  • Lower cost. With most of the hiring happening through a shortlist of the company’s own candidate pool, reduce dependency on costly resume databases and external recruitment vendors. Increase efficiency of your recruitment team by letting HireWand manage the mundane task of going through the resumes and pulling up just the right profiles for the recruiter to shortlist from.
  • Better quality. With an intelligent system pulling up just the right profiles, the recruiter only needs to contend with the good quality list of profiles. This frees up the recruiter to focus on each candidate in greater detail and on the more human aspects of hiring.
  • Shorter lead time to hire. With the first shortlist pulled up in seconds and by efficiently finding quality candidates from existing database the lead time to hire can be reduced by more than 50%. This can also have a direct impact on cost for any firm.