by Jennifer Riggins
We could also call this piece: “How to almost guarantee job satisfaction and happy employees.” A few weeks ago, I was listening to National Public Radio as usual and I came across an interview with the startup GapJumpers, which is kind of like The Voice for recruitment. Essentially, for each job offer, you create a blind challenge to have the candidates audition, trying out some important aspect of the role they are applying for.
GapJumpers then uses its algorithm to quantify and compare the results, only moving the top third ahead for the hiring company to review. From these results, the company will then usually choose the top few projects and interview their creators, only then reviewing their CVs or resumes.
“People want to work and they want to get into companies and, being able to have that opportunity, is making people very happy,” GapJumpers’ business evangelist Heidi Walker told me recently.
She continued to say that these are the same people who are really happy once they come to work, adding a load of positive energy and productivity to the corporate culture.
GapJumpers seemed like a solid effort to break down that damn glass ceiling, as people are hired on how well–and often how creatively–they can achieve tangible results, completely apart from their ethnicity, sex, and educational or economic background. I love how it enables people to try for jobs that they would normally have no hope of getting because they don’t have the right prerequisites and experience to make it past the first round. It’s a way to use technology to hire the people who are truly motivated and actually take the time to put thought into their applications.
I knew I wanted to write about this company because it shares the values of making people happy at work. But when I met Heidi, that’s when I got really excited. Not only does GapJumpers support happiness and fairness in the workplace, they really practice what they preach. Like our own funders, they are an organization that really eats its own dog food, constantly running experiments with its own team.
This is best shown through their recent process of hiring their eighth team member, their talent community specialist. GapJumpers was finally in a position to be its own client. While GapJumpers could on the surface appeal to IT teams who just want to see how well someone can code, this particular role–focusing on the relationship management of candidate and client outreach–was seemingly much less quantifiable.
So the GapJumpers team conducted their own experiment. They started by asking candidates to identify five tech hubs in the U.S.–not the best hubs, just simply five to see where the candidates would take it. In each of these cities, they needed to identify two academic institutions, focusing on hitting optimal levels of diversity like hacker bootcamps and traditionally black colleges. Candidates then had to create a lead pipeline including communication samples with these potential candidate pools, like how to encourage uni professors to tell their students about GapJumpers.
“Instead of it just being a flat job description that you use all the time, it really just becomes a three-dimensional description of the role,” Heidi said.
The winner went above and beyond the task at hand, even drawing attention to cities that GapJumpers didn’t have on their radar before. They knew that candidate was the perfect fit, without having even read her resume.
“I didn’t need to talk to her to hire her,” Heidi said, although they still still did interviews. “After seeing a submission that blows you away, you just want to work with that person.”
Heidi says the whole team got reality-competition level excited to see the big reveal of who their dream candidate was.
In the end, they hired this first choice, who was unveiled to be a military spouse with a masters in computer science, but, since they move around so much, she simply can’t break into the job market. GapJumpers is a distributed team, allowing any member to work from anywhere.
GapJumpers is disrupting the recruitment industry because it’s finally offering a solution, not just gabbing about it. “I think a lot of the focus is on identifying bias, but not a lot has happened to change the behavior or solve it,” Heidi said. “In order for any of this to be successful, it’s not just more women in tech, we need equality of opportunity. We need diversity across the board. The only way for it to be successful is if we bring everybody on board, not just one group. There’s not a talent pool issue, these companies are just not looking in the right way.”
I especially like how it overcomes the American poverty-education gap. Unlike many countries, affording a four-year university education in the U.S. is still a privilege, not a right. Almost half of Americans that do continue onto higher ed have to choose to at least start at a much more affordable–though not yet entirely free–two-year community college. This associate degree simply doesn’t get past preliminary scans by applicant tracking software nor recruiters. GapJumpers lives up to its name.
But don’t worry, it’s not only focusing on the U.S. GapJumpers has jobs and internships all around the world, including remote jobs like this Firefox platform engineer opening.
There’s no doubt that GapJumpers is just one company in a whole movement of companies looking to spread the joy in the world of work. Do you have another company to add? Tell us below!