This startup upends the hiring equation by allowing tech workers to auction themselves off

Companies want you just as badly.
Companies want you just as badly.
Image: Reuters/Amit Dave
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The traditional hiring process puts job seekers at a disadvantage. Rare is the candidate who is able to play one prospective employer against the other in a process that will result in perfect price discovery for her wages. Most job seekers make employment decisions with limited information about which companies are seeking the skill sets she has.

An Indian startup now wants to change that—at least in some sectors. The company’s website allows people to put themselves up for an auction that employers can participate it.

Talent Auction was started by three Indian Institute of Technology-trained engineers in February this year. The team claims that if job seekers use their platform, they can “sit back and relax” and the right job will find them.

“The power basically shifts to high-quality candidates,” says Mayank Jain, a 27-year-old co-founder of Talent Auction. “Instead of she running after employers to seek job interviews, now the companies compete for her.”

Candidates first have to fill their profiles online. Typically 50 of them are shortlisted for the “auctions” that take place every three weeks. During these biddings, companies can view candidates’ profiles and approach the ones they like for an interview. Details such as salary and role are made clear upfront. The founders say that most shortlisted users get up to 10 interview offers.

Most of these candidates get an employment offer within two weeks of auctioning, whereas finding jobs via traditional recruitment portals can take at least three months, says Jain.

For the job seeker, it is free. Talent Auction charges employers 10% of the salary being offered to candidates once they are hired.

Even though the country produces a large number of engineers, only a quarter of them are employable, leading to a drastic shortage of skilled workers. A website like Talent Auction gives top candidates a chance to rise above the rat race.

The concept is similar to an American company called Hired, which is a marketplace for tech employers. Jain says their inspiration came from observing campus placements in their respective colleges, where large number of companies vie with each other for the best students.

“At campus placements it is so easy for students to find a job, but life is so much harder after college and even high-quality candidates have to run around.” he says. “If you want to explore job opportunities, the process can be so cumbersome.”

When it comes to shortlisting candidates, Talent Auction looks at their previous experience and the college they attended. So far, the team had done the curation manually but now plans to build a technology that can can handle the initial sifting.

The startup was launched with seven companies on board in February, but now it has partnered with 100 firms, including rapidly growing companies such as Zomato, Snapdeal and Goibibo. Most of the potential employers are actually technology startups and positions offered are in the field of  marketing, sales, technology and product development. It caters to job seekers with 0-12 years of experience.

The startup was bootstrapped by the founders. According to Jain, they are raising capital and are in “advanced talks” with an investor.