Brian Blum
January 17

Two Israeli startups believe they have cracked the code to getting more underrepresented candidates — women, people of color, individuals with disabilities, veterans — into the workforce.

Yet the two companies, TaTiO and Joonko, are using very different methodologies.

TaTiO has developed a set of online simulations a candidate must complete and pass before being presented with relevant positions listed on the TaTiO job board.

Joonko is essentially “recycling” candidates who almost got hired by a company, lost to another jobseeker in the end, but have much to offer to the right employer.

TaTiO levels the playing field

TaTiO (formerly Skillset) was founded by two women – Maya Huber and Mor Panfil – who had worked in human resources for 13 years. Nir Familier joined them as the company’s CTO.

How to recruit underrepresented candidates to the workforce
TaTiO founders Nir Familier, Maya Huber and Mor Panfil. Photo courtesy of TaTiO

“We had clients approach us to find jobs who had a resume full of gaps or that didn’t represent their skills because they did some kind of career change or there was a shift in the market,” Huber tells ISRAEL21c. “The main thing is that their resumes don’t reflect what they can do.”

The problem, as Huber sees it, is that “so many solutions still rely on resumes.”

Huber knows that from her own experience.

Even though she has a PhD and 15 years of experience in HR, “no one will consider me for a role like ‘head of product.’ They don’t understand the relevancy. There are so many people like me. Why should a company miss me as a qualified candidate?”

TaTiO’s simulations are tailored to the job. So, candidates interviewing for a sales rep job will go through a simulation where they enter a CRM (customer relationship management) tool and try to close three deals while interacting with prospective clients. TaTiO’s software tracks the candidates’ progress online.

“We collect 150 data points about one’s performance,” Huber says. “The candidate then receives a report” which can help him or her improve next time.

The software doesn’t just look at what a candidate types during the simulation but analyzes the audio and video, too – all anonymously, Huber stresses. “We don’t do any facial recognition video analysis.” Natural language processing (NLP) converts the audio to text.

How to recruit underrepresented candidates to the workforce
Example of a TaTiO report, courtesy of TaTiO

If a candidate doesn’t pass the simulation, TaTiO can suggest a job in a different field, along with more simulations that last anywhere from five to 30 minutes.

Once a job is presented and the applicant clicks the button to move forward, the process continues on the employer’s website.

Before choosing a simulation, a candidate doesn’t see job titles but “opportunities,” Huber says, describing TaTiO as “a job experiences board.”

From a business perspective, TaTiO is B2B — their clients are the employers who pay an annual fee to guarantee a certain number of slots will be held for that company’s available jobs.

How to recruit underrepresented candidates to the workforce
Maya Huber and Mor Panfil of TaTiO. Photo courtesy of TaTiO

TaTiO is targeting candidates for entry-level, blue-collar, evergreen or volume hiring positions, “the kind that don’t normally advertise on LinkedIn,” Huber says.

“When the volume is higher, the impact is greater,” Huber explains. “Those markets are really missing candidates.”

TaTiO’s platform is entirely automated with “no humans involved,” Huber notes. “We only get involved if a jobseeker asks questions.”

Huber launched TaTiO in 2019 and the company has raised $5 million. The product is currently an “open beta” with about 12 paying customers. The service is only available in the United States, although the company ran a test for Israel’s Ministry of Welfare and Social Services to hire more people with disabilities.

Covid impacted TaTiO’s business – how could it have not with so many people out of a job or working from home? “Many people were forced into a career change,” Huber says. “They have great skills, but their resumes say they’re not qualified.”

Huber’s bottom line: “I wake up every morning and want to change the world, to create a workforce where people are hired based on competencies. It’s a new paradigm.”

Joonko – pursuing silver medalists

Joonko’s focus is on “silver medalists,” individuals who interviewed at a company and almost made the cut.

These are highly qualified, pre-vetted candidates and, says Joonko CEO Ilit Raz, they deserve another chance at a different company. This is how Joonko hopes to help underrepresented candidates rise to the top.

Raz and her team first ask companies for a list of their “silver medalists” to present to other Joonko clients. In exchange, those companies get access to other silver medalists beyond their own databases.

How to recruit underrepresented candidates to the workforce
Joonko CEO Ilit Raz. Photo courtesy of Joonko

“Let’s say you applied to Nike for a marketing manager position but didn’t get the job. But you might be good for Adidas,” Raz tells ISRAEL21c.

Raz discovered the market opportunity for Joonko “by accident,” she says.

“We were trying to hire a woman data scientist. One of our investors realized how hard it was to find a woman for such a role and said, ‘For any women you don’t hire, send them to me.’ They hired four or five folks this way. I thought: ‘We can do this at scale.’ She didn’t work for us but someone else wanted her, so it was a win/win and everyone was happy.”

That realization has been lucrative: Joonko has raised $38 million since it was launched six years ago. The company now employs 40 people in Tel Aviv and New York. Raz splits her time between the two offices.

Unlike TaTiO, which has a consumer-facing website to attract applicants, Joonko is exclusively for its corporate clients and runs behind the scenes.

Like TaTiO, Joonko’s product is subscription based rather than fee-for-success. The price depends on how many jobs a company has to offer, but Raz stresses it’s a lot less than posting a job ad on LinkedIn.

Raz adds that 10% of the candidates in Joonko’s database are veterans.

Joonko works with 150 companies, has 500,000 candidates in its database and places some 200 to 300 people in jobs every month. It’s focused only on the United States, where the Black Lives Matter movement “really pushed us forward,” Raz says.

Joonko also differentiates itself from TaTiO by specifically not targeting blue-collar workers.

“If it’s a store manager or a warehouse, we’re not the solution,” Raz says. “We’re all about anything behind a desk: HR, marketing, customer success.”

What about those names?

We couldn’t let Huber and Raz go without asking about the unusual names for their companies.

TaTiO is named after El Tatio, a geothermal field with many geysers located in the Andes mountains of northern Chile.

“It’s indicative of the volume of candidates we attract,” Huber explains, “although in the end, TaTiO is a nice name. In five years, we hope that everyone will know it.”

Joonko is named after Junko Tabei, a Japanese mountain climber who in 1975 became the first woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.

“We wanted something inspiring but not something everyone understands immediately,” Raz notes. “Her relentless perseverance reminds us that no challenge is too big to overcome.”

As for the change in spelling to Joonko, Raz explains simply that “we didn’t want people to call us ‘junk.’”

More here for more information about TaTiO and here for more information on Joonko.

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