WhiteTruffle is a San Francisco based web start-up, the brain child of Frenchman Alex Deve, who describe the business as e-harmony for recruiters. I met Alex in San francisco, and again in London recently, where he brought me up to speed with the progress the business is making. I like the concept and thinking behind the site, and the way the product is evolving. It is deliberately disruptive. More of an automated recruiter than a candidate database or job board.

WhiteTruffle introduces engineers to companies, and companies to engineers, and they do it in a different way to a conventional job board or C.V. database, adding recruiter thinking to technology, using dynamic data intelligence to continually understand and match profiles. It’s not surprising that the site is designed to think like a recruiter, as Deve’s 2 business partners are executive headhunters in the technology sectors. I know from experience that although recruiters mostly believe they work on instinct to see a match, with no real repetitive process, the reality is quite different. I’ve had the same discussions when trying to implement a recruitment database for a national business.  Habits become so engrained over time, they become automatic actions.

Deve spent several months mapping what his co-founders did in their recruitment business. How they read resumes. The questions they asked while matching and profiling candidates, and how they learnt from feedback. He looked at the questions they asked to understand job descriptions, and how they took feedback from clients to modify and change what they are looking for. More importantly, he noted the consistencies between one recruiter and another to determine the outline for the platform.

Not surprisingly, given the recruiter influence, they’ve introduced a pricing model that is familiar. The site is free for engineers to put in their profiles, and it’s free for recruiters to use. A fee becomes payable when a candidate gets hired. At the moment the percentage and fee is determined by what the hiring company thinks the candidate is worth, and so far it has worked out close to what an agency fee would be for the same placement. There’s no policing of introductions, it’s all on trust, although candidates can claim a $200 voucher when they get a job through the site, and this acts to make them aware of hires. In the next phase the plan is to move to a subscription model, regardless of volume of hires. 

Registration is simple and quick, as all sites should be, with one click to import the LinkedIn and Facebook profile and a CV upload, with the only fields required being those left unpopulated. This is followed by simple qualifying questions over work status, permit etc, and a series of tags relating to type of employer. The company and job description follows a similar frame, and the automated matching starts, as you’d expect, with the usual key-words. Thats where the similarity to a normal career site ends.

Both the job and the profile are kept anonymous. The job seeker gets to see the job and decide if they are interested, and the hiring company gets to see the profiles matched. One party only gets to see the full detail of the other when both have expressed an interests. Deve expressed an opinion that Linked In and the Job boards are over populated with recruiters. The candidates who use WhiteTruffle do so because they were tired of getting too many irrelevant approaches when they used the traditional sites, often as many as 10 – 15 a day. By staying anonymous until everyone is interested in a conversation solves this problem for all party’s, with recruiters also only speaking to candidates who are interested. It’s much cleaner all round.

The site includes some Amazon like features, like, other candidates like you were also interested in these jobs, and companies interested in this candidate were also interested in these candidates. While this is useful, the feature I really like though is the way the system learns from the candidate and hiring companies choices. Preference is given to those profiles on either side that are active and respond to approaches, and are “rewarded” with new introductions, those who are less responsive drop down the list.

When a candidate rejects or accept a job or opportunity they are asked why. The same for hiring managers rejecting resumes. The information gathered after each action and the answers are used to build up intelligence to enable the system to make more and more accurate choices. The more the system knows about you from your actions and feedback, the better it works for you. The questions asked and the data gathered are the same as the questions I would ask candidates or clients when I was a recruiter, that helped me understand their needs and wants a little bit better after each interaction. The more I understood about the emotions and motivations of candidates and clients, the easier it was to make the right matches. People get interviews based on skills and experience, and candidates take interviews based on similar criteria. Increasingly, research is showing that candidates are only applying for jobs they are confident they can get and want. This process can only help in this, and I will be watching the feedback with interest, to see how these intelligent profiles work out.

What strikes me is that this kind of intelligence gathering and matching technology has been used successfully for the last few years, hence the description as e-harmony. What we do know is that dating sites like e-harmony have a fantastic success rate of matching couples based on emotional intelligence, interests and feedback. A job is a kind of marriage, with an interview being a first date. If it works in dating and few people now question it, why not recruiting?

Deve gets excited and animated when he talks about the need for disruptive practices in the recruitment marketplace. In his view, (and I’m inclined to agree), much of the existing technology and practice that is used today is unhelpful for jobseekers and employers. It’s clogging up the market on both sides, and although there are some exceptions, mostly an overhaul is needed. I’ve heard Deve’s fellow countryman and friend, Jerome Ternyck of  disruptive ATS company SMART recruiters, speaking on the same subject. It is Jerome s view that there’s lots of open jobs, particularly in the SME sector, and plenty of people with the right skills who are unemployed. Complicated application processes and lack of acknowledgement and feedback has led to applicant lethargy. The employers are unhappy because they can’t connect with the right talent, and the job seekers are just fed up because they can’t connect with employers. The technology needs fixing to make the process work.Both Ternyck and Deve are setting out to open up access to all, and I wish them well in that.

I asked Deve what the long term vision was for the business. Interestingly, he was more interested in how the product would develop, rather than what the exit might be. Similar to Lucian Tarnowski, over at the talented community, Brave New Talent, Deve sees a future where these technologies can be used to identify skills gaps between where a candidate is now, and where they want to be in the future, benchmarked against others, with on-line resources being made available to develop the candidate to the required next level. It’s an exciting prospect to develop careers platforms rather than purely transactional job finding services. These forward thinkers make a valid link between recruiting and development through technology,and I’m starting to think this vision is not too far away from becoming a reality.

At #truAustralia in Melbourne, Kevin Wheeler spoke about how in the future the recruitment process was going to be considerably shortened through automation, video selection, assessments and testing and referencing, using products like Checkster, the brilliant 360 degree reference tool. Wheeler contends that there’s far too much time spent on preliminary interviews conducted by untrained interviewers. This is not effective for the hiring company, and frustrating for the candidate. This process change would reduce the number of interviews to 1 or 2, with better outcomes. I couldn’t help thinking how this might fit in with developments planned at WhiteTruffle. Wheeler will be leading a track at #trulondon on this thinking, and Deve hopes to be there. It will be an interesting conversation.

Whilst WhiteTruffle is focussed on engineers, this technology and methodology is equally applicable to any niche sector. Deve is quick to point out that there will always be a place for recruiters who can bring relationships and a personal approach. I agree with this, and it gives further evidence why recruiters need to be moving from transactional practice to one based on relationships, and the winner in all this could just be the candidate. Thats got to be great news!



White Truffle

SMART Recruiters

Brave New Talent

Kevin Wheeler