GTC2015: Can Highr help miserable hi-tech professionals find better jobs?

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According to LinkedIn 80% of job candidates are passive, or in other words, currently have jobs and are not actively looking for new work. Now there’s a portal for them, particularly grumpy hi-tech professionals: Highr, which is also one of the ten companies competing in the Geektime Conference’s Startup Arena pitch competition on Wednesday.

The company’s name is a play on words. It is a service that allows startup workers to post their details and ambitions anonymously for other companies to see. They want out of their stagnant jobs, but they don’t want to hinder the ones they already have. So it is both a hiring app and an app to let your career go, well, higher.

The Israeli startup has already made some headway in the local market. The Israeli branches of Google and Microsoft have already used it in addition to a number of startups in the local ecosystem, according to Calcalist. They also tout Houzz, Outbrain, Vonage and Yahoo as users with clients testing it in the U.S., Netherlands, Germany, and Australia. They recently announced their participation in Microsoft’s new local accelerator as well. It is an attractive tool for recruiters to seek out people who are actually looking for an opportunity.

“Our solution is different from those of other companies and job boards in that it turns to the passive job seekers who aren’t ready to invest effort or take a risk (searing for something new),” CEO Liran Kotzer told Geektime. The competition forgets about this segment of the human resources market.

Passive getting more attractive

Highr's booth at the Geektime Conference. Photo Credit: Alex Lazear
Highr’s booth at the Geektime Conference. Photo Credit: Alex Lazear

Highr isn’t the only company in the passive job search market space. Savvy (formerly Poacht), Switch and Jobr import your LinkedIn info but remove photos and names and just leave the qualifying information for candidates. As of last year, Jobr led the pack with about 75,000 active (passive?) users. Poachable might be the closest to Highr, in that it focuses on engineers and designers. Recruitment is a $120 billion industry, so anything that makes it more efficient means big savings.

Companies excited by the service reading this will have to get their hands on an invite to sign up though, at least for now.

“About 80% of our customers right now are some of the best Israeli hi-tech companies in the market with about 25 American firms,” Kotzer said. “We have 160 companies who have requested an invitation and we are bringing them in gradually to let us protect the quality of our services.”

While the companies have to wait at the gate, the professionals walk right by the bouncer. Companies are hearing about the hot new club from their in-house developers whose friends are passively seeking jobs on the site.

“LinkedIn does enable companies to refer to passive candidates, but the major difference between us and LinkedIn is in the execution. When an employer looks at someone’s profile, there is no info on that candidate’s desires. So the employers are using a “spray and pray” philosophy in that they turn to a number of candidates on the assumption they will answer back.”

The result is that would-be job seekers are “bombarded” with requests that are typically irrelevant. Highr itself is a filter for focusing on candidates who will be receptive to your company’s advances. According to Kotzer, that results in an 80% reply rate to company inquiries.

Highr Co-Founders CEO Liran Kotzer and CTO Ami Dudu also started recruiting site SeeV, now one of the largest job placement companies in Israel. Their staff includes human resources veteran at Facebook and Google, Hadas Weiss-Shafran. The company, which launched in 2015, employs 14 people with offices in Herzliya. They have raised an undisclosed amount of venture capital.

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