REDMOND, Wash. — Aug. 28, 2012 — Summer is winding down in the northern hemisphere, and it’s time for recent graduates to get serious about their job hunts. Microsoft BizSpark One startup Careerify is making it easier than ever for employers worldwide to recruit and hire those looking for work.
Careerify founder and CEO Harpaul Sambhi has set himself and his company an ambitious mandate: to ultimately drive global unemployment to 0 percent.
“Politicians and others talk all the time about job creation, but what about the 3.5 million jobs currently unfilled in North America alone?” Sambhi says. “Filling existing jobs, even without creating a single new one, would make a huge impact on unemployment figures.”
Careerify is a pioneer in the nascent field of social recruiting, or social HR, which uses social media in attracting, hiring and retaining employees. The Careerify software as a service (SaaS) employee referral offering, built on the Windows Azure cloud platform, combines social and mobile technologies to help companies “build a recruitment culture,” Sambhi says. Careerify harnesses current employees’ social networks to identify and recommend new hires that not only fit a particular job description, but also are likely to meld well with the company’s culture and working style.
According to Careerify, employees hired through referrals from within a company perform better, stay longer, report higher job satisfaction and cost less to recruit than people hired through job boards or employment agencies. Sambhi’s insight was to motivate and excite employees to participate in recruiting for their companies through the gamification of social and mobile technologies.
“Careerify essentially turns every employee into a recruiter for the company, tapping employees’ social networks to identify and recognize talent to fill job openings,” Sambhi says. “Careerify’s powerful algorithms simplify the process of finding new employees; our software keeps employees in control of their social data and connections and employers in control of their internal HR and branding guidelines; and we create a more rewarding job referral experience for everyone involved.”
Transforming the Recruiting Process
“It’s shocking how much companies spend on employee recruiting, which has been estimated at $120 billion per year worldwide,” Sambhi says. “An employment agency might charge 20 to 30 percent of a successful candidate’s first-year salary for recruiting. And at the same time, companies prefer to hire like-minded people, who more often are found by existing employees than by outside agencies or Internet job boards.”
Careerify’s technology gives companies a simple, appealing way to engage their workforce more effectively to fill open positions. Companies post job listings internally and set rewards for qualified or successful recommendations, such as an iPad, a gift card or a ticket for a vacation package raffle. Employees can login to see job opportunities at their companies and choose which of their social networks to include in Careerify searches. Careerify software identifies potential candidates for specific job openings from the employees’ social networks; the software then generates company-approved email messages employees can send to the candidates.
Careerify also demystifies the hiring process for referring employees and potential candidates, allowing them to track candidates’ progress.
“Careerify provides greater transparency throughout the process,” Sambhi says. “Employees like knowing what jobs are open at their companies. Companies appreciate having an easy, cost-effective way to generate more qualified applicants for each opening. Candidates have an ‘inside source’ for information about where they stand in their job application. Involving employees with status alerts about their recommended candidates often helps companies close the deal with the right new hires.”
Security and Scalability With Windows Azure
When deciding the cloud platform on which to build Careerify’s SaaS technology, Sambhi says his two main criteria were security and scalability.
Careerify’s business model depends on carefully balancing transparency with privacy, which in turn requires rock-solid security technologies.
“I was leery of open-source IP for reasons of data privacy and leaks,” Sambhi says.
By using Windows Azure, Careerify was successful in inspiring confidence with customers led to early traction for Careerify, and Sambhi’s ambitious goals made it imperative to plan for rapid growth.
“We’ve been on a rocket-like trajectory,” he says. “The Azure platform lets us accelerate quickly to support millions of users, without having to hire IT people to manage on-premises technology. We can scale and launch our service in minutes. For example, if a customer with 300,000 users comes to us, we can have them on board in less than half an hour.”
One Graduate Helping Other Graduates
Careerify seems ideally suited to help graduates and other first-time, second-career or out-of-practice job seekers.
For one thing, 25-year-old Sambhi was very recently still an electrical engineering student at the University of Waterloo, often dubbed “the MIT of Canada.” The Toronto born-and-raised Sambhi launched his first company — designed to help fellow grads get recruited into engineering positions — while still a student.
In addition, Careerify itself had something akin to a graduation within the Microsoft BizSpark program. After three years as a BizSpark company — beginning when founded in 2009 — Careerify was recently selected for the Microsoft BizSpark One program, which establishes close, one-on-one relationships between Microsoft and high-potential startups.
“The basic BizSpark program was phenomenal,” Sambhi says. “As a recent student with huge tuition loans to pay off, I was initially motivated to sign up for BizSpark to take advantage of the software discounts. I soon found, however, that the real benefit was connecting with Microsoft-affiliated communities where I could advance my technical competence and build the kind of solid corporate infrastructure that my future customers would trust and take seriously.”
In addition to technical advice and assistance, the BizSpark One program also facilitates meetings and connections that are important for business success. For instance, Careerify is currently in discussions with one rapidly growing fellow BizSpark One company interested in adopting the Careerify employee referral service to fill positions at multiple sites throughout Europe.
Now that Careerify is successfully helping midsize enterprise employers in 13 countries recruit and hire new employees, the company plans to further globalize its technology and continue expanding — which will require venture capital funding. Again, the company will look to BizSpark One for assistance to make the right connections.
“I’m confident that the introductions and connections gained through the BizSpark One program will be invaluable in helping us take all the steps required to reach our long-term goals,” Sambhi says.