I came to know about 100offer when their recruiter Kathy connected with me on LinkedIn and introduced the platform to me. I have a full-stack developer profile on LinkedIn so she described it as a platform for me to find new opportunities.
Because I blog about talent strategies for startups, it is interesting for me to see how companies could use the platform to recruit tech talents. So I decided to give 100offer a try and write a review based on my experience.
Indeed, I found 100offer to be a promising new contender in a competitive industry full of hard problems to solve.
100offer’s business model
You can find some background of the company behind 100offer in this e27 article dated September 2017, or view the description on 100offer crunchbase. The article summarizes their mission statement, the problem they are trying to solve and the solution they offer.
Their main value proposition:
100offer curates the talent on its platform, so clients are not inundated with a tidal wave of irrelevant resumes.
It seems they are a high-end recruiting firm with a pool of quality candidates whom they have painstakingly acquired from various channels.
Furthermore, they do serious vetting on their candidate profiles, so that companies can recruit by doing a targeted search on the pool directly, saving them the time to go through a pile of irrelevant job applications.
In return, 100offer charges a placement fee for every successful hire, just like any other recruiting firms do.
100offer’s core tenet
Their core tenet:
100offer “seeks what is best for the [job seeker]”, even if that means the competition lands the job and gets the fee.
Does that mean they would go the extra mile for the candidates and try to match them to employers who are the best fit but have not signed a contract with them?
This is what candidate-first recruiters do. Some of the best tech recruiters I have worked with in the past are candidate-first (I will explain this concept in my email course).
The bold statement aroused my curiosity. So I was eager to find out more details.
Here is how I planned to review 100offer:
- sign up as a candidate to see the candidate experience.
- sign up as an employer to check the quality of their candidates.
Candidate experience from initial contact
Kathy explained to me that 100offer is an opportunity marketplace specialized in connecting top software engineers to top employers. The term “opportunity marketplace” sounded as if I can search for opportunities on the platform.
But it turned out that the platform only allows employers to search for candidate profiles, not the other way round. So a more fitting term that sets the correct expectation for the candidates should be “talent marketplace”.
She then explained to me the difference between 100offer and other platforms such as job boards. She said 100offer does not have job descriptions. Instead, the companies “apply to” the candidates by checking out their profiles.
That was an unusual claim to me. “Without a job description, how would the candidate decide whether to accept an interview invitation?” I thought.
Kathy did not offer a satisfactory clarification of her point. So I proceeded to sign up at 100offer to try it out.
I completed the account and profile creation process within 20 minutes. I considered that very smooth compared to other talent platform, such as AngelList.
The good UX owes a lot to the built-in OCR capability on the platform. It was able to create the profile for me automatically by parsing my CV which is a pdf file.
I only adjusted a few sections where the OCR failed to fill in completely. Alternatively, the candidate can choose to import from LinkedIn.
One thing I disliked as a candidate was that 100offer forced me to reveal my salary information. If 100offer were to share this information with my future employer, that would give them an unfair negotiation position.
I am of the opinion that employers should not try to lowball the candidate based on his/her salary history given the competitiveness of today’s tech labor market. So the salary field should be made optional.
Also, 100offer’s salary calculation does not take into account the case where the candidate has already left his/her job or has recently received a pay raise. These cases would result in the profile showing a wrong salary figure.
One week after I have created my profile, I got a call from a 100offer staff Ivy asking me to check the invitations in my account. She was the talent consultant assigned to service my account.
Apparently 100offer does not send out email notifications to candidates upon receiving new interview invitations for them. 4 days have elapsed since the first invitation landed in my account.
This is big no-no to tech companies that are hiring: a 4-day delay usually means the job applicant will go for other interviews first, and subsequently get offers from other companies first.
Upon checking the invitations I had, I found them to be poorly formatted messages containing the job descriptions. So, contrary to what Kathy told me, 100offer does have job descriptions!
I realized the employers did not understand the chat-based approach that 100offer is advocating. I guess the initial contact with candidates should be some kind of small talk, instead of sending a full J.D. over. Many employers are not used to this new model of interaction and hence revert back to what they normally do on job boards.
After reading the poorly formatted messages, I discovered that the opportunities presented were total mismatches from my profile. They required skills that I do not have.
A discussion with Ivy revealed that 100offer has a limited way for presenting the candidate’s skillset. They only allow for 15 skill tags to be shown, whereas an experienced engineer (>6yrs) typically has more than 15 skills on their CV.
Also the employers would very much like to see the skills the candidate learned and applied per individual past experience. In fact, I have skill tags under every work experience I listed in my CV. But 100offer does not allow skill stags in their work experience or project experience section.
Besides the above mentioned issues, I also encountered some feature-breaking bugs on the platform. So it seems 100offer still has some work to do to iron out the UX in the candidate’s user journey. Therefore, I stopped my exploration here and did not go into part 2 the employer’s workflow.
Despite the hiccups, I do see some merits in their approach to recruitment. The introduction of dedicated talent consultant is especially a profound change.
The “talent shortage problem” the local startup space is facing is multi-faceted:
- There is a serious shortage of highly experienced talents who can get up-to-speed quickly in a new job, and a strong competition for such talents.
- Fragmented technology landscape makes it difficult to find talents who happen to know all or most of the technologies that a startup uses.
- Startups are not incentivized to hire inexperienced developers and train them.
- Startup founders lack the experience in designing the recruitment process or performing recruiting, and do not view talent management as a long-term strategy.
- Bad recruiters.
- The traditional view of engineering jobs as not so glamorous.
There is no one silver bullet that could solve all of the above problems. 100Offer focuses on one area: sourcing and aims to improve candidate experience and application quality, for both candidates and employers, by employing a new interaction model. They are making progress as evidenced by their success in Shanghai.
Most of the UX problems I encountered are easily solvable. I expect them to go away as they improve the platform.
It is interesting to see how far they can go in this industry.