These Stanford and Berkeley dropouts are raising $1.2 million to help college students apply for jobs more easily
Millions of college students are struggling to land their first job and companies are struggling to hire the right junior candidate, leading to a multi-billion dollar recruiting industry that needs better technology. Simplify, co-founded by Stanford and Berkeley droupouts Michael Yan, Ethan Horoschak and Rushil Srivastava, allows candidates to seamlessly apply to multiple job postings at once. The San Francisco-based startup raised $1.2 million in a pre-seed round led by Soma Capital, with participation from angel investors such as George Ruan (CEO of Honey), senior executives from LinkedIn , Meta, Handshake and more.
Aneel Ranadive, General Partner of Soma Capital, said: “The most sought-after feature by every technology company is hiring (‘your team is your company’) and bringing the right people together is key to creating the best products that drive innovation. Equally, the #1 goal for promising young talent is to find the right roles to learn and grow in. We’ve backed Michael and the Simplify team for their innovative approach to a problem facing them and millions of students face every year. We’re excited about the product they’ve built in an industry that has historically ignored candidate experiences, and how they’re helping companies hire in today’s marketplace.
Frederick Daso: How have hiring practices evolved over time, and therefore why have traditional recruitment industry standards failed to keep up with the dynamic needs of candidates?
Michael Yan: We have seen a huge shift towards remote working over the past two years. 2021 has seen a record number of online job postings. Many companies have used multiple job sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, Handshake, etc. to fill the top of their recruitment funnel. While the shift to remote hiring has been rapid, the candidate-side infrastructure remains largely the same, resulting in an inefficient recruiting experience for many job seekers.
We have seen a huge increase in candidate pools with fewer geographic barriers across all fields, making jobs more selective. Due to this market dynamic, candidates often find themselves applying for more than 50 positions hoping to land a single offer. Today’s job postings compound the problem, as they are scattered across multiple job sites and consist of repetitive applications. This creates a situation where candidates have to re-enter the same information over and over, a time-consuming process that leads to candidate fatigue.
In short, today’s job search is inefficient and disorienting, and the challenge has been to create a solution that can support job seekers through the process. This feeling is at the heart of our philosophy: to make the job search experience as friendly as possible for candidates. In particular, Simplify solves these issues such as redundant apps with features like one-click auto-fill apps, eliminating dysfunctional searches across dozens of job boards with personalized recommendations, and job tracking. (which could end up being) hundreds of applications via automatic applicant tracking. We want Simplify to be the single source of truth for candidates and job seekers, no matter where they are in their career or job search.
Daso: Of the millions of students and recent grads applying for job openings, which ones face the biggest challenge getting their first job?
Yan: We have observed that students who lack industry connections, access to professional networks, guidance from friends or family, or those transitioning into new industries typically face disproportionately more important for finding a job. The reality is that these students often come from first-generation, low-income, or underrepresented backgrounds.
Students must rely on peers, professors, and career centers to support them through the convoluted recruitment process to overcome these obstacles. Unfortunately, a large part of the problem these students face is that most college career centers lack the infrastructure to customize the support they can provide. That’s not to blame the career centers – most universities only have about 10 advisers for the entire undergraduate body.
Ultimately, our ability to support both students and career centers stems from our use of holistic candidate profiles. We seek to create a frictionless candidate-side experience, leveraging their profiles – with preferred industry, skills, etc. characteristic. By keeping track of information about these applications across all online job boards (where candidates apply, when and if they are responded to), we enable career centers to create a more efficient and effective support infrastructure. targeted for their students.
Daso: What methods do companies rely on to recruit? Why are these methods supposed to be ineffective for 21st century hiring needs?
Yan: Today, companies employ a wide range of resources to fill the top of their recruitment funnel: posting on job boards, contracts with headhunters, sponsorship of job fairs, etc. Besides being expensive, juggling all these sources is a nightmare – with no guarantee that the various audiences will be reached.
Additionally, even if the top of the funnel is filled enough, examining inbound poses another challenge for businesses. Current recruiting practices fail to capture a holistic view of candidates, forcing companies to manually process incoming calls or invest in AI-powered CV analysis or enrichment software. In addition to their typically high price, these solutions have marginalized underrepresented candidate groups, inadvertently creating an asymmetric and fragmented review process.
We have focused on solving this problem. Over 85% of our 30,000+ users are people of color and come from over 1,100 schools across the country. We also recognize that employers today are working diligently to eliminate implicit biases from their hiring processes. We provide the tools and infrastructure to facilitate the achievement of their goals by enabling them to understand their inputs and connecting them to diverse talent in a candidate-friendly way.
Daso: How does Simplify handle different application page layouts and sequences from different companies?
Yan: Job applications all ask for (almost) the same information. However, the format of these questions is highly variable, which makes autofillers and generic parsers unreliable. The first iteration of Simplify stems from automation scripts I wrote to speed up the application process when I was looking for a job myself, developing a framework each time I applied for a job on a new platform.
Since then, we have created complete autofill frames for the top 15 ATSs on the market. We’ve also added basic NLP to recognize specific, one-off questions and match them to data points on a user’s Simplify profile, enabling support for most job applications on the web – with more half a million applications submitted using Simplify in the last 6 months. .
Daso: Is Simplify designed to work or be compatible with modern Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and resume parsers with its auto-fill feature?
Yan: We like to say that Simplify works around ATS resume parsers – if you’ve ever used the resume parser feature on an application, you’ll know it’s often unreliable and most candidates have to re-enter anyway their information. We designed Simplify to automatically recognize and correct incorrectly filled in information from the resume, enabling a frictionless experience across all major ATSs and millions of jobs. In the long term, our vision is for a user’s Simplify profile to be the most holistic view of a candidate, making resumes (and resume parsers) obsolete.
Daso: How do you keep the pain you and your teammates felt at the center of Simplify’s product development?
Yan: We built Simplify to solve our team’s problems when we were recruiting at the university. Going through several rounds of recruiting, we experienced first-hand the many pain points of the process, which inspired the first iteration of our product. Today, Simplify fixes most of those initial issues, but we still have a long list of features in the works that we hope will make the process completely frictionless.
To stay true to our philosophy of putting users first, we’ve implemented a routine of asking the entire team to apply for jobs (with and without Simplify). This ensures that the products we build solve real candidate problems and allow us to better understand and prioritize new features. We are also fortunate to have an engaged community of users and ambassadors with whom we gather ideas and feedback during weekly office hours and talkathons. At its core, Simplify is a candidate-driven platform – and we strive to stay that way by engaging our users at every level of our business.