The Art of Matchmaking

500x500_plumChristine Bird, like most of us, began college with little idea of what she wanted to do. She enjoyed painting, so art school it was. When Christine determined that art school wasn’t for her,  she dropped out and promptly began waiting tables at Olive Garden (praise endless breadsticks). Eventually she would return to school with a pivot in her goals—she would become a conservator. Upon graduating, Christine would take the job because “It sounded cool, and you make a lot of money.”

 

Not long after, she left her job to move to Vermont with her then-fiancé. She quickly learned, though, that there isn’t exactly an abundance of prominent art galleries in Vermont. Christine started working at a winery, as it was difficult to find work there with two art degrees coupled with some waitressing experience. Eventually Christine landed an interview with an educational software company in New Hampshire.

 

She ended up being hired despite her lack of experience and related credentials. The hirer said she could tell that Christine was bright and hardworking, and felt that to be more indicative of future job success than a resume. The CEO took a different approach and hired a man who was perfect on paper. Both Christine and this perfect mystery man were brought in on a guinea pig project. Taking surveys to see how well they stacked up against everyone else in the office, it was clear that the CEO’s hire had the credentials on lock. To everyone’s surprise, though, the ‘perfect’ hire was gone within two months, while Christine went on to run a portion of the company over the next two years.

 

This experience got Christine thinking that the way people are typically hired is ineffective and inefficient. She began hiring people at the company. She further tested the theory that the best hires come from traits and not from experience or an impressive reference. Christine hired a seventeen-year-old boy with a lawn-mowing business. He taught himself how to code off of YouTube, and saved the company $250,000 in his first year there. Theory confirmed.

 

Caitlin, the woman who initially hired Christine, would join her in co-founding their business that would win the 2015 43North startup competition. They began roughly 4 years ago, and developed Plum’s technology just 2 years ago. Plum offers software created for hiring purposes, to help provide job-seekers the potential to recreate Christine’s rare hiring circumstances. 89% of turnover is due to behavior failure on the job, and it’s scientifically proven that resumes, interviews, experience, and references are not the best criterion for hiring decisions.

 

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Christine, Caitlin, and Caitlin’s husband, Neil, founded Plum together to correct this. They want to help hiring companies accurately identify what they are seeking, behaviorally, for a position. Job-seekers are taught to deliver the same scripted answers: ”My biggest flaw is that I’m a perfectionist,” etc. It’s hard to differentiate between interviewees. Meanwhile, employers are often unsure what it is that they’re looking for. “Someone who has worked for 10 years still might suck at his or her job,” she suggests, so when it is left up to resume comparison to decide–and it often is—the decision might not be the best.

 

Perhaps even less informative of job fit than a resume, is appearance. Sad, but true, hirers will often decide whether or not they like you within the first 90 seconds of the interview. Christine told us that 2 in 3 job candidates will be hired or denied based on what they’re wearing to the interview or appearance in general. It’s no coincidence that white male CEOs in America are 5” taller than the average white American male. She warns, too, not to be fooled by the confidence and charisma that interviewees often exude. Again, simply appearing sure and eager does not correlate with ability to perform a job well.

 

It’s easy to fall victim to any of these misleading sources of job compatibility. Plum is putting an end to that. They’ve created software that allows hiring companies to accurately identify what traits they need for an available position, while allowing job-seekers to take surveys testing where they fall on the spectrum of relevant attributes. “It’s online dating for jobs,” Christine explained. They use high-power algorithms to best match job seekers to open positions. Job seekers are given a fairer chance, and hiring companies are given a better fit. Everyone wins.

 

If you’d like to start your free Plum trial–you can.