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How to reverse-engineer finding elite tech talent

Sharon Florentine | Oct. 2, 2015
What if you could pinpoint the characteristics that make your top talent so good, and use that info to identify new recruits? Online social learning and collaboration platform Piazza is rolling out a new feature set that it claims allows you to do just that.

"They can look at what classes Jane Smith has taken, her work portfolio, we can see she has interest in and experience with advanced algorithms, she spends a lot of time on the platform helping other students, interacting with professors. We can show her side projects, extracurricular activities -- so many pieces of information that go beyond just a resume to help companies make better hiring decisions," Gilmartin says.

Soft skills

Reverse-engineering candidates in this way also improves organizations' capability to screen for soft skills like leadership, communication and teamwork. A candidate who's spent her free time on the platform helping others, demonstrates that she's a leader, and her participation in group projects can show that she works well with others and has great communication skills, for example.

Students who opt-in can also include the extracurricular activities and achievements outside a strict technical or academic focus, such as participation in collegiate athletics -- which highlights their teamwork, communication skills and also their competitive nature.

"So many of these factors outside academic performance can influence someone's success on the job. Are they great team players? Can they communicate and negotiate effectively? Are they able to handle school, extracurricular activities, hobbies and sports at once? Have they been coding since childhood and feel very passionate about their skills? These are all things savvy organizations are looking for," says Gilmartin.

Reverse-engineering your best hires isn't at odds with the push for greater diversity many companies have, according to Gilmartin. If anything, using these data points and performance information makes hiring diverse candidates easier in some ways.

"Piazza's helping companies make great hires by focusing on a candidate's merit, not on what they look like, what school they attended, or even on who they know. That's increasing the diversity of the candidate pool and allowing more diverse candidates to compete on a more level playing field," Gilmartin says.


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