May 29, 2014

You Can Acquire Skills: Hiring for Personality with Hironomy

“It came to life through a lot of frustration,” Tamer Rafla says of Hironomy, the recruitment advertising startup of which he is co-founder and CEO. “I finished school, and I was looking for a job. Looking for jobs is a full-time job. You sit down at the computer, search for jobs, send your resumé out. I went through a lot of jobs. I applied to a lot of them, and quite often I never heard back.”

Frustrated by repeatedly missing out on jobs for which he knew he was a good fit, Rafla decided  he deserved some answers. He called up one of the companies to find out why they didn’t want him. “I told them, ‘I applied for a job, and I think I have the skills and the competencies. I’m a good fit,’” he says. “The person looked at my resumé, and he told me, ‘Well, actually, yeah, you do have the skills we need. The only reason we didn’t call you was because we get so many applicants. We can’t go through all of them.’”

After looking over Rafla’s resumé, the man invited him in for an interview — and he got the job. But that company almost completely missed out on the right candidate simply because HR didn’t have time to go through every applicant’s resumé. “The reason why I wasn’t called the first time was because they were bombarded by resumés and mine just fell through the cracks,” Rafla explains.

This is not an isolated incident. Recruiters and HR departments are often inundated with applicants whenever a job opens up. Crushed under the weight of resumés, organizations often have to cut some corners in the sourcing process. “Recruiters also have other jobs to do. They can’t just sit there and look at resumés,” Rafla says. “So they look at the first five, the first 10, hoping one of these will actually be the candidate.”

Rafla doesn’t want recruiters to miss out on top talent simply for lack of time, nor does he want to see perfect candidates miss their opportunities to shine because the throngs of competition were too thick. That’s why he came up with Hironomy, a technological solution that he believes will help recruiters become more efficient by doing the heavy lifting for them. “[Recruiters] spend less time reading resumés because the system does that for them,” he says. “The system assesses candidates and only shows them the people that actually fit.”

Using Algorithms to Play Match Maker

Because of the way it uses assessments to help organizations find candidates who best fit their job postings, Hironomy has been called “LinkedIn meets eHarmony.” When Rafla explains the ways his platform matches job seekers and companies, it’s easy to see why: Hironomy’s matches are more about “fit” than they are about skill sets.

“It’s sad to say, but recruiting is very old school,” Rafla explains. “It’s stuck in the old age where all we care about is key words.”

But skills, Rafla says, are the easy part: “You can develop skills. There’s on-the-job training. There’s mentors.”

Rafla believes that organizations would be better served by emphasizing cultural fit, which you can’t exactly teach: “Some companies are realizing that skills can be acquired, but the personality can’t.”

Hironomy assesses candidates according to three domains, none of which are tied too strictly to specific skill sets. Instead, Hironomy looks at job seekers’ “cognitive aptitude,” “behavioral aptitude,” and compatibility with organizational culture. Rafla believes that, as time goes on, more and more companies will assess candidates according to these categories. “The future is looking at the culture of the company, trying to find people who fit with the culture, who fit with the team,” he says.

“Value for Job Seekers and Employers”

According to Rafla, the major difference between Hironomy and traditional job boards is that Hironomy “provides value to both job seekers and employers.”

“The biggest issue on the employer’s side is that all the jobs are accessible by everybody,” Rafla says. “They get bombarded with resumés, and they have to look through each one of them because they don’t know if the candidate is good or not.” By pre-screening candidates, Hironomy seeks to significantly reduce the amount of resumés that organizations have to sift through during the hiring process.

“By ensuring that only people who fit apply to the jobs, [organizations] get fewer resumés,” Rafla says. “Instead of getting 100 resumes, you get five, and these five are the valid ones, the ones where people really fit.”

Similarly, job seekers benefit by only seeing the jobs that Hironomy feels they can perform. “Instead of going through pages and pages of job postings, you only the see the ones that you fit with and where you have the highest chances of being called for interview and being hired,” Rafla explains.

In order to deliver the value to job seekers and employers, Hironomy assesses both populations. “When job seekers register the first time, they go through a series of questionnaires,” Rafla says. These questionnaires align with the three domains mentioned above.

Rafla explains: “The first dimension is cultural fit — so, does the job seeker have the awareness to fit within the culture at the company? The second dimension is the personality [called “behavioral aptitude” on Hironomy’s website – ed. note] — does the job seeker have the personality to fit within the team? The third dimension is cognitive abilities — does the job seeker have the skills and the competencies to deliver superior performance?”

Employers go through a similar process. “When employers register for the first time, they get assessed on the corporate culture. This is only done upon registration,” Rafla says. “For every job posting, they need to determine what is the personality that they are seeking in the candidate, and also what are the cognitive abilities that they need in a potential employee.”

Rafla believes that, by using the same industry-specific metrics to analyze job seekers and employers, Hironomy is able to determine the most accurate employee/employer matches. “We’re able to assess the job seekers and the hiring managers using the same techniques to match them to one another,” he says.

While Hironomy is a fairly young platform at this time, Rafla has conducted quite a few tests of its capabilities. In the early stages especially, he wanted to be sure that Hironomy was designed to meet the actual needs of actual organizations. “Instead of helping what I though was a problem, I reached out to professionals and I spoke to them, to be able to provide a solution that can effectively help people,” he says.

Rafla points to the results of Hironomy’s soft launch as good examples of what the platform can do for employers. He had clients post their jobs on big-name job boards like Monster, as well as on Hironomy. “I told them to compare the quality of candidates that they got between the two,” Rafla says.

According to Rafla, one client received 17 applicants for a position it posted on a standard job board and four applicants for the same position through Hironomy. Furthermore, when the client selected three candidates of the 17 standard job board applicants to interview, it turned out that all three of the candidates were part of the group Hironomy suggested.

“We tested this with real companies,” Rafla says. He’s confident that Hironomy delivers.

Matthew Kosinski is the managing editor of