Recruitment start-ups: group of candidates

10 exciting start-ups changing how people get hired

5 May 2017

In the cutthroat world of tech recruitment, HR departments need all the advantages they can get their hands on. These start-ups aim to help.

Recruitment in the tech sector can be brutal. Not only are there more open positions than there are qualified people to fill them, roles can often be incredibly nuanced, making it difficult to find the exact right person for the job.

It can be a recruiter’s nightmare – battling through LinkedIn profiles to find poachable passive talent, dealing with people who look great on paper but couldn’t code their way out of a paper bag, and always attempting to find the diamond in the rough.

But the tech sector is nothing if not innovative, and problem solving is essentially its raison d’être. As a result, recent years have seen the emergence of a veritable host of recruitment start-ups, designed to make finding the perfect fit for your company a total cinch.

The list of these is almost never-ending, and more are adding to the ranks all the time. recently featured – an AI-driven tool that launched just last year – as our Start-up of the Week. Brand new player Cohort, which helps you find the people you need in your online network, launched earlier this week at Collision.

That’s a lot to get through, so we’ve gathered together 10 of the best, each of which works to help companies recruit based on referrals, fit or technical know-how. (And make it easier for jobseekers to find the right fit for themselves, too.)


One of a growing number of talent-sourcing start-ups, Bengaluru-based Belong was created by Sudheendra Chilappagari, Saiteja Veera, Vijay Sharma and Rishabh Kaul in 2014.

Belong aims to help employers target passive talent with the right fit, at the right time. The company does this by utilising machine learning and predictive analytics to scour professional networks, communities and forums for talent. These tools evaluate how likely people are to move positions, and how well their personality and experience suits the employer’s company, among other metrics.

Belong has raised $15m since 2014, closing a $10m series B earlier this year.


Headquartered in London, Debut is a careers-focused app that aims to connect students and graduates with available internships and graduate schemes.

Multiple in-app features – such as tailored opportunities, talent push notifications, career insights, live streams, and even games that can help you win a potential internship – give users the edge by offering direct access to employers, and creating innovative ways to get noticed.

Founded in 2015 by CEO Charles Taylor and COO Michele Trusolino, Debut is partnered with leading employers including Microsoft, Vodafone and Sky. In January, Debut announced a seed investment of £1.7m, bringing its total funding to £2.2m.


All too often, those applying for new jobs will face the same old tasks: writing a cover letter and CV, changing them slightly for each different job, and sending them out en masse.

A start-up called HackerTrail – founded in Singapore in 2014 – is trying to ‘gamify’ the job application process with a view to helping employers find the best applicants.

How does it work? When applying for a job, a person creates an account and applies to take a series of challenges that could win them not only a drone or a smartwatch, but the attention of a prospective employer.


Founded by Gavin Fogarty, CEO, Mustard is a Dublin-based technology platform that connects some of the world’s most exciting businesses directly with talented software engineers, effectively cutting out any go-betweens.

The company has a real-time list of job-seeking engineers, who have been sourced and pre-screened using Mustard’s proprietary growth technology.

Founded in 2014, Mustard was named overall winner of the NDRC Lift-Off competition that same year. The company has raised more than €600,000 in funding from investors including Enterprise Ireland and

Refer Me Please

With employee referrals increasingly seen as an effective way of hiring, Refer Me Please works on both sides of the recruitment coin.

The platform allows jobseekers to build a personalised profile and put themselves out there. For recruiters and companies, it connects current employees with suitable referrals, giving them the chance to refer people who they think would be suited for a job.

Founded in Paris in 2015, Refer Me Please currently supports more than 200 companies, and carries more than 200 job postings.


London-based Saberr is behind a series of tools that work together to ensure team fit in hires. Using predictive analytics and a range of algorithms, the company helps employers to better predict a candidate’s suitability for a specific role or team.

Saberr offers two tools: Base, which helps to build teams in an efficient way; and Coach, which provides always-on coaching support to improve productivity via feedback and incentives.

Founded in 2013, Saberr has raised around £2m since co-founders Sam Mead and Alistair Shepherd got the ball rolling. The start-up originated out of the University of Southampton – an early backer.


Founded in 2013 in San Francisco, Simppler is a start-up that aims to help companies develop more efficient employee referral programmes.

Using its own machine learning software, Simppler creates a process powered by employees’ connections. The technology trawls employees’ digital networks to find suitable candidates – even those the employee themselves may not have thought of. A simple system then passes these candidates to a company’s recruitment function.

With its promise of significantly streamlining the employee referral process, the company has already amassed more than $3m in funding.


Established in 2014 by Kartik Mandaville, the LA-based SpringRole uses machine learning to take the manual labour out of sourcing suitable candidates.

The company uses a step-by-step editor that helps employers create a job spec that will find them the people they actually need. Machine learning technology then draws on 100 data points to assess a candidate’s qualification for any given role. This process aims to save time by ensuring only the most perfectly qualified candidates reach the interview stage.

The system scours every corner of the internet and is currently tracking over 85m passive candidates.


Job-hunting app Switch was founded in New York in 2014 by CEO Yarden Tardmor.

Powered by machine learning algorithms, which aim to link the perfect candidate with their dream job, Switch has been referred to as the Tinder for jobs – its functionality allows candidates to swipe right when they find a job they like, and swipe left for those they don’t. A right-swipe sends the candidate’s profile directly to the recruiting company. A conversation will only be initiated when there’s mutual interest.

To date, Switch has raised $6.4m in two funding rounds.


While technical interviews have long been the preserve of tech companies looking for programmers, many see them as a flawed assessment that doesn’t actually test candidates on the most important aspect of their jobs: their coding skills.

Triplebyte seeks to change that. By making real-life coding skills the most important part of the recruitment process – users carry out a coding test before being matched with a company that fits their interests – Triplebyte ensures that recruiters find the most talented people, not just those that perform best at a whiteboard test.

Founded by Harjeet Taggar, Guillaume Luccisano and Ammon Bartram in San Francisco in 2015, Triplebyte has raised $3m to date.

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