Monday, July 26, 2010

Recruiting Entrepreneur Profile - Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas, a friend of mine for the past three years, is a serial entrepreneur in the recruiting space. I decided to write up this little blurb because I've learned a couple of tricks from him, and I think his story is interesting.

Back in the day Mark was a number crunching analyst type who didn't really fit in well with his corporate job. The pay was good, but working in finance for a megacorp isn't exactly where the action is. Mark started wanting more for himself.

As Mark explored his options, he learned that he has an entrepreneurial itch to scratch. While continuing to keep his day job, on nights and weekends he decided to try recruiting. He hustled, found a client who was willing to work with him, and before he new it had placed a few engineers and was making serious money pretty quickly. When the check came in, Mark quit the day job and devoted himself full-time to the side-biz-turned-moneymaker Thomas Executive Resources.

Over the next three years, Mark built up his staffing business and explored many different business models. Mark worked out a consulting model paid the bills, but he was starting to get the entrepreneurial itch again. Mark didn't feel building up a consulting business slowly over time was the right path for himself, so he sold the business and started looking for his next big idea.

Mark decided on trying to develop a pure website for recruiting, and his first attempt was a site called MoneyBackJobs.com. The idea was simple - apply to job, earn signing bonus if hired. Employers would advertise jobs with a signing bonus, any one hired would get a signing bonus, MoneyBackJobs.com would earn a fee on top of the signing bonus. The concept met an unserved market niche, but it practice it was a difficult business model to sell. Employers were skeptical about the loyalty of job seekers being lured with cash incentives, and the process of the cash bonuses approved was arduous. In the end, Mark shut down MoneyBackJobs.com and moved onto other ideas.

As Marked explored different ideas, he noticed a trend common among all employers. The main bottleneck in reviewing the qualifications is scheduling and the amount of time available for phone calls. A light went on in Mark's head. He decided to challenge the assumption that phone screens need to people to talk and a predetermined time. Within a few months SayHired was born.

He's a blurb about SayHired in Mark's own words:
    SayHired offers the world's easiest way to phone screen job candidates. Our system automatically phone screens candidates without a recruiter ever having to pick up a telephone. It's simple: SayHired will post jobs for employers on their behalf, candidates will apply to the job, take an automated phone screen with questions that either the employer chooses or that SayHired provides, and the employer gets access to the audio recordings of the screens as soon as they are complete. No more wasting time with candidates that look great on paper but are terrible on the phone. We offer pricing as low as $10 per screen for subscription purchases. We also offer a way for employers and recruiters to conduct reference checks automatically through our system. Lastly, we're a developing an algorithm that automatically sorts and ranks candidates' phone screens so that employers know instantly who to bring in for on-site interviews and who to pass on.

I love the fact that Mark has taken the time to identify a pain point for anyone trying to do high volume recruiting. The biggest challenge to recruiting in my opinion is the sheer volume of applications that employers get. If you ever find yourself with 20+ qualified applicants to screen and not enough time to talk to them all, Mark @ SayHired would like to speak with you :)

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