Why we made Hireist

In 2013 a colleague and I had just founded a startup to teach young people digital skills and get them into work. We hardly had tuppence to our name, and it was just two of us trying to build a platform, write training courses, talk to customers, come up with a brand, market ourselves… time was of the essence, since we only had a small pile of cash and a mountain of demands on our time and attention. Then, along with some investment came the chance to hire some help

Hiring turned out to be not just vitally important to our survival, but also terribly time-consuming, and hard to do well. And we did want to do it well; as a profit and purpose social business, treating people fairly and decently was really high on our list of priorities. 

We posted a couple of adverts for junior roles on a job board - it was gratifyingly easy to post an ad, but it turned out that it was even easier for candidates to apply to us. It was like we'd opened the flood gates. We got hundreds of applications of immensely varying quality, and we were struck by a few things: 

  • The first thing we’d see was the candidate’s name - which, having recently learned about unconscious bias, suddenly seemed loaded with unwanted information about the candidate’s gender and ethnicity. 
  • We found it hard to tell from a CV how well a candidate’s skills and experience fitted our job requirements and person specification. 
  • It was clearly far easier for candidates to apply than it was for us to review the CVs and applications… our posting a job seemed to be an open ended invitation for people to suck our time dry when we could least afford it.
  • Many candidates obviously applied to lots of opportunities at a time - several CVs came with cover letters addressed to a different company, for an unrelated role. 
  • When contacted, many applicants had no recollection of applying to us, and lacked real interest in applying. From our point of view, they weren’t real candidates and every email, every phone call, cost us time and money we could ill-afford. 
  • We were uncomfortably aware that buried in the pile of applications were undoubtedly great candidates who we’d possibly never even get to. This seemed really unfair. 

It was a terrible experience for us, as well as for the candidates. People weren’t applying in this scattergun fashion for fun. Clearly, being selective wasn’t a winning strategy and people were reduced to sending hundreds of lottery-style random applications. 

We were all about opening opportunities up to people for whom there hadn’t been many, so we had intentionally tried to avoid placing hurdles in people’s way. But even so there were so many applications that were simply inappropriate that it was depressing work to review them all. It was simply impossible to do justice to all of the applications. 

So we began talking to other startup founders and hiring teams and learned that we were far from alone having these problems. 

There had to be a better way to hire, one which would be more manageable, fairer to candidates, less work for the hiring team. One which prioritised genuinely interested candidates over disinterested ones. One which would restore the balance of work and make it so that candidates had to put some effort into applying. 

After years of thought and research, here it is: Hireist, an ethical name-blind hiring platform for building excellent digital teams.

Introducing Hireist, the new name-blind hiring platform for building excellent digital teams

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