“Hello, my name is Jon, I am employed and I’m not looking for work.”

That’s how Jonathan Block answered the phone Friday morning. He got a call from an unknown number which turned out to be an aggressive recruiter. Jon’s story is indicative of the recruitment process in hot tech cities, employers are frustrated trying to find talent and candidates are overwhelmed.

Job hunting has become a lot like dating. You don’t want to seem too interested, it’s uncomfortable talking about money, and sometimes you’re just not really sure if the other party feels the same way you do. Interviewing for a position feels less like a business deal (which it is), and more like an awkward conversation along the lines of: “It’s not you, it’s me.”

This is especially true if you are a looking for work at a software company in a place like Silicon Valley, but Hired.com is trying to streamline the process by creating a two-way marketplace for software engineers, data scientists, designers and project managers and the companies that need them the most.

How Hired works

Founder Matt Mickiewicz describes Hired as “a career marketplace for the world’s knowledge workers.”

Hired.com was founded by Mickiewicz, Douglas Feirstein, and Allan Grant. If you follow startups you probably recognize all of their names. Mickiewicz is known for co-founding 99designs, Feirstein for founding LiveOps.com, and Grant for co-founding Curebit. The idea for Hired.com came out of their own need for talent when their individual companies scaled. As they set out to fill their open positions they ran into the problem of too many recruitment firms being solely employer-focused.

As entrepreneurs, they started with what they knew, software engineers and developers, UI/UX designers, and data scientists. The site, developed using Ruby on Rails, works in an auction format, listing users’ skills and expertise for companies to bid on. Once approved by Hired, users create a profile with the help of a personal advocate and get put on the auction block. Hired presents a weekly curated list of top talent to their client companies and the companies choose who they want to bid on.

“One of the major things that sets Hired apart was that companies are searching for you, it really reverses the process of getting a new job,” said Blaine Schanfeldt, who used Hired.com to land a job at Lookout.

Users are presented offers from interested companies that detail what their salary would be and what kind of benefits they can expect; and they choose which companies they want to interview with. You have to be willing to work in San Francisco, New York, Boston, or Los Angeles, but the average salary on Hired.com is $125,000. User profiles are also hidden from their current and past employers to protect their privacy. Currently Hired has over 700 companies looking for talent; companies like Twitter, Airbnb, Klout and groupon.

“Once my auction started, it was crazy,” Block said. “I got five or six offers instantly.”

One of those offers was for the CTO position of a Y Combinator backed company with a fat salary. He eventually chose to go to work for Lyft, a ridesharing app. He said the job he chose is a meaningful one and went on to add, “I don’t think I would have been able to find this [job] without them.”

Hired’s process of approving and curating lists of top talent is their value proposition to client companies. They present vetted candidates that have a desire to work in the position that the client is hiring for and the experience to pull it off. The value to users is letting Hired bring companies to you, sometimes as many as 15 offers in a week. Hired makes its money by charging the client companies a percentage of the candidate’s salary, and then they share that with candidates in the form of a hiring bonus. For example, after you sign on the dotted line for your dream job, Hired cuts you a check for $2,000.

The recruiting problem

The truth of the matter is that every company, whether they are a tech company or not, need tech talent in a big way. Companies in saturated markets like Silicon Valley and New York have to resort to aggressive recruitment tactics to cut through the noise. If you have a computer science degree from an Ivy League school listed on your LinkedIn account, you have probably had a run-in with a recruiter. One blog went as far as to estimate that recruiters account for 1 in 20 LinkedIn profiles in the U.S.

 Computer science is one of the fastest growing job fields in America, and the demand will continue to grow as technology further infiltrates major industries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were nearly 3.6 million jobs in computer and mathematics in 2012, with almost 1 million of those jobs in computer systems design alone. Hired’s San Francisco office is on 8th and Bryant, right down the street from Airbnb, so they have a bird’s eye view of the jungle that is the Bay Area job market. For growing companies, finding the perfect fit can be frustrating. Mickiewicz said the conversation around starting Hired was centered on how they could make it easier and friction-free for developers to put their skills to work on the right team. They also save companies time by personalizing their pitches. 

“It’s no longer a needle in a haystack,” he said. “Every single person we present is interested in interviewing for the job.”

Moving forward

The company was initially self-funded, but they raised a $2.7 million seed round in February 2013 from Sierra Ventures, Google Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, Crosslink Capital, SoftTech VC, and Sherpa Foundry. Once they received their funding, they hired all of their new employees from Hired.com. They now operate out of both San Francisco and New York and employ 28 people.

Hired has big plans for 2014. They want to focus on the product as much as possible, streamlining the offer process and creating new tools to help get people connected. One of their major focuses will be interviews. The site currently facilitates interviews via email between companies and candidates, but they want to integrate interviewing more and automate the process. They are also planning on adding interview scheduling tools and ways to capture interview feedback.

The larger goal is to develop a rich data set to better understand what companies and candidates want. All of this is to help empower users to find their dream job when their personal network and blind résumés don’t work. By having companies compete for candidates, Hired offers job-seekers the rare opportunity to not only find a job, but to choose from a list of top companies presenting their best offers; giving users a better idea of where they fit and what they’re worth.