New Haystack app lets employers hire staff with their smartphones

Kiwi recruiter Alen Levis has spent three years developing mobile-enabled software aimed at helping busy managers, business owners, HR staff and company directors hire new staff from the shop floor. Available now, Levis’ product Haystack is an app which runs on Apple products and internet browsers.

He calls it a DIY recruitment tool: “What it actually does is allow people to make better hiring decisions faster.”

Haystack works by automatically collecting hiring information submitted by job applicants into an easy-to-use mobile interface. Each candidate gets a profile page, which contains links to their CV and cover letter, as well as an introductory video of themselves and a numerical score generated by their answers to a set of screening questions. The profile pages can be viewed and responded to via smartphone, tablet or desktop computer.

With the app, users can scroll through candidates’ profiles whenever they have a spare five minutes. The standardised format allows for accurate comparisons between different job applicants, and all relevant information is within easy reach.

“I’ve had restaurant managers hiring people off their iPhones,” Levis says.

Once a decision has been made, users can use Haystack to send out customised or automated messages. These messages are then stored with the applicant’s profile so as to keep track of what’s been done.

Levis says the app also makes it simple to politely respond to everyone who was unsuccessful, allowing users to improve the hiring experience for job applicants and manage the company’s reputation.

“Employers will put in an ad saying, ‘If you don’t hear back from us in two weeks, then just assume you haven’t been successful,’ and I think every candidate should be acknowledged.”

Levis says the app has been designed to suit SMEs, especially those in the hospitality and retail industries. He says the assumption behind it is that the users already know how to hire the right staff, but need a tool to make sure their time is used as efficiently as possible.

Alen Levis

Levis’ work on Haystack arose out of his involvement with industrial recruitment agency Indus Recruitment, which he established in 2004 with Vicki McKessar.  He says he spotted a gap in the market for SME recruitment.

“Right from the outset, I wanted to build something really simple that would make sense to everyday people.”

With his knowledge of user experience, Levis was well-equipped to carry out this vision, but it took time for his tech start-up to get off the ground. He says the project took three years because he tested every aspect of it himself, estimating that he rejected around $30,000 worth of unnecessary or below-par code before Haystack was ready.

Among the app’s first clients are restaurant franchise Mexicali Fresh, Splore Group and restaurant owners Nourish Group. Levis says an additional 12 clients have indicated they will soon come on board.

The app is available for a free 30-day trial from Haystack’s website, and costs start at $89 for one casual job vacancy. It will be fully released during April. The team is currently working on completing a version for Android devices.

Levis' top tips for hiring new employees:

  1. Don't skimp on recruitment processes or take shortcuts. Make your interview last longer than 10 minutes - take it really seriously.
  2. Don't hire based on the first CV that comes across your desk. That's just luck, and it will eventually run out.
  3. Have a pattern of questions to ask. Make sure you're comparing apples with apples, rather than just winging it off the cuff. Don't forget to ask important questions such as, "Do you have any criminal convictions?"
  4. Look at the talent that you've got in your own business first - your own staff may be able to fill that gap. Develop and nurture their talents, and take an interest in them.
  5. Hiring is a hassle. Before you engage in the hiring process and it becomes chaotic, think of what systems you can use to streamline it. Recruiting should be a fun, exciting process.

 This article was originally run on our sister site TheRegister.co.nz