A Rackspace co-founder is on a mission to transform a hiring process he calls broken. And he’s looking for recruiters to help him.
Dirk Elmendorf, who left Rackspace in 2009, said hiring has increasingly become a game — and an incomprehensible one at that — through complicated application processes and automated filters. “But the best people are sometimes the least equipped to deal with that,” he said.
His latest venture, Jobward, aims to change the way that game is played by creating a unified platform that brings together job-seekers, recruiters and eventually employers.
Drew Hicks, Jobward’s chief development officer, said many hiring tools are focused on helping employers get lots of applicants, such as a job posting on Indeed. “Now you’ve got 10,000 job-seekers. What are you going to do with them?” Hicks said.
That approach encourages employers to use filtering systems designed to weed out unqualified applicants but that can also eliminate well-intentioned and well-qualified workers.
Jobward aims to help these workers elude the filters and showcase their real relevancy.
A résumé generator, which launched last year, was the result of Jobward’s first phase. The generator takes information about a candidate’s history and skills and turns it into a résumé tailored for a specific job posting.
The résumé generator is free and always will be for job-seekers, Elmendorf said. In the future Jobward plans to charge recruiters and eventually employers to be involved in their service.
Elmendorf said the résumé tool helped a man find a job with the federal government that tripled his previous salary. He had ample experience in audio-visual technology, but had a hard time showing that to employers. “His résumé was holding him back,” Elmendorf said. A two-hour session with Jobward fixed that.
Elmendorf also said there are now foreign nationals in Bangladesh using Jobward’s résumé generator to apply to jobs in Canada.
Now Elmendorf and the rest of the team want to launch a second stage, in which recruiters are brought into the process to work with applicants as they build their résumés. They’re looking for recruiters to help them in this pilot program.
“We’re looking for people who want to be on the leading edge of recruiting,” Elmendorf said.
Recruiters will be able to use tools that help them generate reports for employers and make their own job easier, Elmendorf said.
Elmendorf has, since leaving Rackspace, advised startups and launched a few of his own, including an app that helps small trucking companies and another for the management of real estate brokerages.
For Jobward, he’s joined in the venture by his brother and longtime collaborator Brett Elmendorf, as well as CEO Natalie Karney and Hicks. All are veterans of San Antonio’s tech scene. For the time being, the startup is being funded by Elmendorf, though the team is seeking investors.
Jobward formed officially at the beginning of 2020, weeks before the pandemic struck. The founders knew they wanted to tackle problems in the hiring process, Elmendorf said, but the best way to do so wasn’t exactly clear. So they surveyed job-seekers and contacted an organization with expertise in working with them: Project Quest. It’s a nonprofit workforce development initiative in San Antonio whose wraparound support has put thousands into jobs over the last three decades.
Project Quest collaborated with Jobward in its initial stages as the startup developed its résumé generator. Project Quest directed applicants toward using Jobward’s system, as well as providing input on how the hiring process could be improved.
“It’s a great tool,” said James Cooper, a program manager at Project Quest. “It provides us specific information needed to engage an employer.”
Elmendorf said Jobward belongs to the spate of recent efforts to cultivate the city’s workforce, such as Ready to Work SA and Train for Jobs SA. While those programs will help residents get trained, Jobward will help them get hired, he said.
The disconnect between job-seekers and employers is a problem with an enormous civic impact, and startups that identify solutions will be worth a lot of money, said Elmendorf. “It’s very hard to find problems like that.”
Dirk Elmendorf is a financial supporter of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of individual members, click here.