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The tech behind Handley’s Shoulder Tap campaign

When Kiwi entrepreneur Derek Handley advertised for a new right hand person, his campaign The Shoulder Tap  was wildly successful with more than 1000 applicants from more than 30 countries – from billion-dollar hedge fund managers to prison managers to activists.

Yes, Handley’s reputation and vision pulled for sure, but there was also some clever Kiwi technology behind the campaign.

The design concept and custom skin was created by Augusto, but the platform it sits on is all Weirdly – an app invented by Auckland recruitment company Talent Magnet to get employers to assess people by cultural fit.

“And by that I mean what it feels like to work there,” says Talent Magnet co-founder Dale Clareburt. “We filter for culture before skills.”

The Weirdly website sums it up: “Using a fun, customised quiz, Weirdly ranks candidates against your ideal ‘match’. It automatically turns a long list into a shortlist, while also managing things like CVs, video applications and applicant photos all through a simple dashboard.”

Now 12 months old and used by the likes of Jucy, Glengarry and Vend in their recruiting, Clareburt and the Weirdly team came up with the concept after years of working in recruitment.

“We’ve consistently found that the kind of people you have is more important than their skills, particularly in the start-up world – which includes many businesses in New Zealand – where every person is so crucial. In a company with 10-20 people it might not be so important, but in a small company if the person doesn’t feel like they fit it will have a negative impact. We’ve all been there.”

The algorithms in the app analyse language, values, and behaviours. The questions are broken down into five categories – the Shoulder Tap campaign kicked it off with:

“We draft up the questions at Weirdly, and clients can adjust or add to them to how they like. We’re not psychologists – we’re drawing off our experience as recruiters, and we’re interested in values and behaviour.”

Clareburt says the app is really unique. Traditionally, she says, you’d see a job ad, and send your CV and cover letter, with no other engagement. With Weirdly, the employer finds out a bit about an applicant before they send their CV.

“As you go through the process you can see that ‘this sounds like me, I like this, or I don’t like this so I won’t invest my time in tailoring my CV’,” says Clareburt. “It’s actually really good if during this process you find the job’s not for you – wouldn’t you rather know that than invest time in a CV?”

She says she hasn’t seen anything else like this in the industry – there are questionnaires employers can use to select candidates, but they are generally for hard skills such as degrees and experience.

“With Weirdly it’s behavioural, they’re not the standard interview questions. There are cognitive, psychometric assessments you can do out that are more robust, but ours is more of a simple tool to use… our questionnaires don’t take long, they’re fun (everyone likes to find out about themselves) and they look cool – the client gets to use all their branding.”

After the success of the Shoulder Tap campaign, Talent Magnet is having to develop the app further to be able to cope with volume – Handley’s job received 1000 applications in 3 weeks, mostly through social sharing (via #theshouldertap), which Clareburt says was the real driver in the campaign. “The option to tweet was a custom add-on that Derek wanted. That was something we hadn’t done before.”

There’s scope too for Weirdly to grow in other directions – Clareburt sees organisations using it on existing staff to monitor internal engagement. She also has bigger plans to take it outside recruitment, seeing opportunities with brand engagement on company websites, and for retailers with online presence to learn more about their customers. “For example, if you’re buying online, you could complete a questionnaire that also signs you up for a newsletter, in return for a special deal for you. When you’ve got crowds, you’ve already got opportunities.”

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