Ravi Mikkelsen, CEO of HR tech startup jobFig, understands the powerful role public relations can play in getting the word out about your company.
“I see how PR can be critical for tech-oriented startups that don’t have the skills or language necessary to communicate with the media or their target audience,” said the San Francisco, Calif.-based entrepreneur. “I know an engineer who had no idea how to market his product and the result was ‘soul crushing.’”
He also sees PR’s influence changing with today’s instant media. “Message crafting is still very important, but I think the traditional press release is less relevant,” he suggested.
While Mikkelsen hopes to focus more on marketing and PR as his company grows, he has been doing a lot of his own marketing, relying on his advisory board, attending HR technology conferences, including last year’s Human Resource Executive’s HR Technology Conference, and being nominated for awards.
As a bootstrapped startup, he has relied on the generosity of the social community, crowdsourcing his logo from 57 designers from around the world, blogging and posting articles on social media sites like LinkedIn. Hip and cool, the name of the company was the result of him and his co-founder snacking on black mission figs outside their apartment. They also wanted to convey the message that their company helps “figure” out which candidate is right for the job.
Slowly, but surely, the results are paying off. jobFig recently landed its first annual license and several smaller firms have signed on as customers. Mikkelsen hopes his concept of using algorithms to predict how well people work together based on their inherent behavioral traits will someday be the standard way job applicants are screened.
“Despite amazing resumes, great references and all the traditional tools used to hire someone, new hires often don’t work out,” he said. “It’s all about corporate culture and workplace dynamics and how well someone’s personality fits with the existing team.”
Interestingly enough, most people have flexible skills and can perform more tasks than the job description entails, he said. “But how they mesh with the existing dynamics of the team is a hard puzzle piece to fit.”
He also believes his software can be used for other HR functions such as employee engagement. Said Mikkelsen, “Personality assessment is much stronger for engagement than traditional demographic information.”
Mikkelsen said his company’s software has value propositions for small and large businesses. For small business, it can be used to hire mission-critical employees; for enterprise companies, it can help pinpoint ideal applicants from hundreds of thousands of resumes, optimizing the recruiter’s time. And, he sees his flat-fee model appealing to customers, large and small.
Next steps will be to develop and release their tools as a series of application programming interfaces (APIs) so that they integrate directly with applicant tracking system (ATS) platforms.
In the meantime, he has created an interactive “personality medallion” that an employee can use to determine his or her personality type, while continuing to get the word out about his innovative talent acquisition concept.
Tags: Alpine Communications, Applicant Screening, Applicant Tracking System (ATS), Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), Blogging, HR Technology, Human Resources, jobFig, LinkedIn, New Hires, PR, public relations, Ravi Mikkelsen, Wendy Alpine