After nine months operating in stealth mode in Australia, recruiting marketplace Hired has come out of the shadows for a full local launch.
Hired's presence in Australia coincides with the government's increasing emphasis on driving "jobs and growth". The Australian government's National Innovation and Science Agenda, unveiled in April this year, is an attempt to move Australia into a new economic era.
The Turnbull government said that its AU$1.1 billion package, spread over four years, will "incentivise, energise, dynamise" a newer range of Australian industries, while nurturing a new generation of science and innovation talent.
According to data from Digital Pulse, about 3,600 students completed an IT degree in 2014, half the number from 10 years earlier. The same report estimates that there will be 100,000 more tech jobs by 2020.
ManpowerGroup's Talent Shortage Survey further shows that IT workers are the fifth most difficult to hire in Australia.
With the government turning its attention to the technology sector, and the lack of technical talent being identified as a major challenge for Australian companies, it was the right time for Hired to expand into Australia, according to Sascha Gray, GM of Hired ANZ.
"There's an amazing opportunity for Hired to help with the overall innovation boom that is being driven by the government. It's a really exciting time for us ... to be able to facilitate and help with that growth," Gray told ZDNet.
"When we look at the stats, there's a huge gap in the number of jobs in the tech space [in Australia] and the number of people able to do them locally here on the ground. There's an opportunity for us to help bridge that gap."
Gray added that there's been "no disruption" in the Australian recruitment industry for five or six years.
Hired was founded in 2012 by Allan Grant, Douglas Feirstein, and Matt Mickiewicz, who also co-founded 99Designs.
Mehul Patel, Hired's CEO, told ZDNet that said 87 percent of the global working population are unhappy at their current job, but only 20 percent of them plan to jump ship.
"You have all of this unhappiness but only a small portion plan to do something about it to change. We asked ourselves: 'Why is that?' We think finding a new job is actually more miserable than the pain you feel in your current job," said Patel.
Hired conducted a survey recently and respondents likened the pain of finding a new job to getting a root canal or a divorce.
"For candidates, it's the second most important life choice they'll make after their choice of life partner," Patel said.
"For companies, no matter how great their idea is or how much money they have, they're not going to succeed unless they have great talent. That's the problem we're solving."
Patel said in the traditional recruiting model, candidates fight for the attention of the company. Under Hired's model, the onus is on the company to attract the candidate.
The process starts when candidates apply to be part of Hired's network -- globally there are 500,000 applicants and 6,000 companies on Hired -- and the company selects the top 5 to 8 percent of candidates through a combination of data science, machine learning, and human curation.
"When we select candidates, we're looking at the quality of their experience, the skills they have, and the locations that they want to work in," Patel said.
Once a candidate's profile is live, they are able to receive relevant interview requests from pre-vetted companies.
Patel said under Hired's model, companies apply to the candidate. They get in touch with the candidate -- providing them with information like salary, mission, relevance, and so forth -- and send an interview request to discuss potential opportunities and synergies.
"The idea is that if you have that kind of transparency -- with companies doing customised outreach to great candidates -- then when the candidates do the interviews, they're going to be much closer to actually wanting to join the company. [This is] because all the things they need to know about the company -- like salaries -- are already known," Patel said.
Patel said today's workers are much more purpose-driven; coincidentally, companies are looking for workers that are purpose-driven. More and more these days, a candidate is looking for a company whose mission is aligned to their individual purpose.
In addition, he said companies are gradually moving towards a value-centric payment paradigm -- they don't want workers who clock in and out. How many hours people work matters less than the value of their work.
"In the old model, it was all about what the companies want and need. Now we're seeing a shift towards a much more balanced interchange between companies and candidates. Candidates want more information about how they can build their careers," Patel said.
"Companies need to meet those candidates where they are and talk about career development opportunities. We see ourselves as facilitating that, being a partner to both sides and creating opportunity for both sides."
Adding to this, Patel said compared to job boards and LinkedIn, Hired has a higher response rate.
"When you put a job out there on a job board, the good news is people will apply for the job. Bad news is you will get [irrelevant candidates], and for candidates, they don't know whether it's a good place to work," Patel said.
"LinkedIn sort of solved that problem because you can specifically search for software engineers. But with LinkedIn, you don't know whether people want to be approached. People aren't really able to signal that they're open to hearing about new opportunities, so what happens is you get low response rates when you reach out to candidates.
"We think we're the next evolution of the [recruiting] model. You can get quality people and know that they're open to hearing [about new opportunities]. We have a 95 percent response rate on our platform, so it's much more efficient."
During its soft launch phase in Australia, Hired garnered around 550 companies -- including Canva, Uber, and Pivotal Labs -- and 17,500 candidates.
Gray said out of all the markets Hired operates in -- currently 17 markets globally including the US, UK and France -- Australia has shown the greatest traction.
"It's been faster than any other launch that we've had and it really signals that the [Australian] market is ripe for disruption. They're looking for an alternative way," said Gray.
Gray also noted that, based on Hired's stats, Australian companies are keen to recruit talent from overseas.
"Due to the brain drain we have in Australia, the size of the population leaves us challenged across many industries. But particularly in IT, we see a lot of people leaving and going overseas [for access to talent]," said Gray.
"We've seen companies here have a real appetite to reach out to international candidates on our platform ... around 39 percent of Australian interview requests go overseas, which shows that we are really helping companies [bring talent back into Australia].
"In Paris, about 7 percent are international interview requests. It just shows that there is a real under-supply of candidates here in Australia."
Hired has raised more than $72 million since its inception from investors including Comcast, Crosslink Capital, Google Ventures, and Lumia Capital. In its fourth and latest round, Hired raised $40 million to assist with its international expansion efforts.
In addition to expanding into other geographies, the company is looking to expand into other industries and job categories.
While software engineering roles make up a majority of the opportunities on Hired, Patel told ZDNet that in the US, Hired is also connecting companies with candidates in the sales and marketing sector, with plans to expand into other areas like finance, law, media, and other professional services. It also plans to connect companies to graduates and freelancers.
To date, Hired claims to have facilitated $32 billion in offers to nearly 50,000 candidates.
Update: Hired has received 500,000 candidate applications - it does not have 500,000 candidates on its network. Hired also said it facilitated $32 billion in offers thus far, an update from $15 billion mentioned previously.