Symantec Funds Autism Advantage Program

We are thrilled to announce that our partners at Expandability powered by Goodwill received a $50,000 grant from Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC), an industry leader in cyber security. The grant will enable Expandability to create its first ever cohort focused on Data Science and Data Analysis. This contribution is yet another example of Symantec’s industry-leading commitment to developing a more innovative and inclusive workforce. From working with foster youth to promoting gender equality in STEM, Symantec continually demonstrates their commitment to building a more inclusive future for the tech industry.

Expandability’s program connects job seekers on the spectrum with an environment to show off their technical skill set to potential employers. Even college graduates on the spectrum can find themselves trapped in minimum-wage jobs. The program uses a unique approach by creating a simulated work environment to learn workplace norms. Candidates build their self-confidence, social skills, and professional skills while expanding their networks.

Companies who employ this untapped talent pool can reap massive benefits. People on the spectrum provide dramatically different viewpoints than their neurotypical counterparts. These individuals often provide innovative ways to solve complex issues that have plagued others within their work groups. Studies prove that diverse teams have a dramatic effect on performance and bottom line. Adding neurodiverse perspectives is big step in the right direction and grants companies the added benefit of creating clearer team communications. As companies learn to be more thoughtful about diction and context, they can begin to cultivate a more inclusive environment across the organization.

The next cohort begins April 10th in San Jose, California. This cohort will focus on Data Science and Data Analytics. If you are interested in learning more please reach out to Jack Hogan ( or Katee Peek (

A Closer Look at Glassdoor’s Top 50

Companies with staying power execute on all fronts. They deliver the growth and profitability that their investors and owners demand. Executing a challenging interview while maintaining a good recruiting experience for candidates attracts and assesses the best talent for long-term sustainability. Companies know that in the short- and long-term, their recruiting brand is essential to success.

Last year, I wrote a blog on how all employers can improve their candidate experience. In a tight labor market it’s essential that companies treat candidates well regardless of whether they get a job offer. Notably, in Glassdoor’s 2016 top employers, AirBnB placed #1, but also had one of the worst candidate experience ratings among the top employers. In this year’s report, AirBnB fell from its graces landing itself at #35.

While a candidate experience isn’t the sole driver of an organization’s overall ranking, it is often symptomatic of other problems. Let’s take a closer look at GlassDoor’s 2017 ranking of the top 50 large companies. For the top 50, here’s a chart that plots their candidate reviews of the overall interview experience against the interview difficulty.

Experience Chart

Source: Glassdoor

What is surprising to some of our clients is that there’s no strong correlation between the experience (% negative experience) and interview difficulty. The leaders are Group A. They have a high interview difficulty and low percentage of negative experiences. These companies have both a high bar for recruiting and treat their candidates well. With a high bar, they can discern the best of the best. Additionally, low negative experience builds a strong recruiting brand. This, in turn, attracts even more top candidates. These companies, Power Home Remodelling, BCG, Bain, SpaceX, and Google are either consistent performers in the GlassDoor ratings or up-and-comers:

  • Consistent performers: Bain, BCG and Google were in the top 8 large employers for the last three years. Employees at Bain and BCG, both consulting firms, consistently cite working on extremely challenging problems, working with smart people and a culture that is really supportive and empathetic. Similarly, employees at Google described an environment that was positive, in many cases due to the intelligent coworkers, exciting projects on which they were working and excellent benefits.
  • Up-and-Comers: Power Home Remodeling is a privately-held company and rose from #15 on the 2016 rating to #10 in this year’s rating. Power Home Remodeling employees cite a strong “family” culture giving people opportunities they could not have found elsewhere, encouraging employees to do their best work. SpaceX made its first appearance on the Top employers list at #40 this year, with employees citing a strong belief in the company’s mission.

In contrast, Group B has a poor interview experience, and its members are in the middle of the pack for interview difficulty. Not only are they unable to discern which candidates comprise the best of the best, unless they improve the candidate experience, they may find it hard to attract high-quality individuals. This may, unfortunately, also be reflective of deeper issues. Most of these companies have also been inconsistent in their overall employer ratings.

  • Inconsistent Performers – AirBnB, DocuSign, Zillow, and Intuit have not been consistent in this overall employer ranking. AirBnb celebrated a #1 ranking in 2016 and plummeted to #35 this year. Docusign placed #23 in 2017 which seems good after not making the top 50 list in 2015 and 2016. However, they fell off the list in those years from placing #37 in 2014. Zillow dropped from #10 in 2016 to #28 in 2017. Intuit made the top 50 list in 2017 but missed the list for two years.
  • Bucking the trend – Two companies, LinkedIn and Concur, have performed well in their overall employer rating. LinkedIn tends to place well every year except when 2015 when they dropped to #23. Concur made the top 50 list for the first time in 2016 placing #49 and improving to #24 in 2017. The question for LinkedIn and Concur is will their poor candidate experience and moderately challenging interview impact their ability to hire the best?

BuzzHero, like many companies, believes that if companies want to achieve consistently strong performance in the long-term, they need to attract and retain top talent. Difficult interviews and a good candidate experience leads to higher acceptance rates and more talented applicants. It’s not a trade-off, and yet few companies do it well.

Sunset on San Francisco

Together We Make America Stronger

As I’m sure you’ve seen, last week, President Trump signed an executive order restricting citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States– even those who had already legally obtained visas were banned. Reaction has been strong and swift, with tens of thousands protesting around the world. Breaking their silence on political issues, a long list of business leaders including Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos spoke out against his action.

While President’s Trump order was carried out just last week, BuzzHero has already seen the impact of his espoused views on the technology labor market. We’ve seen companies change their recruitment strategies for hiring talented immigrants. This began in small doses post-election, and has been exacerbated by last week’s action and subsequent reports about the President’s intent to restrict work-visa grants.

We help connect uniquely-skilled individuals with organizations that aim to change the world. From all of our work assessing these candidates’ talents, one truth has become entirely self-evident:

Talent knows no label. Talent is not tied to a particular nationality, race, gender, or even school. America’s tech industry thrives because it has become a magnet for dreamers, thinkers, and achievers from around the world who make the impossible to come to life.

For decades, the greatest innovations have been created in America by Americans and immigrants: the semiconductor, the personal computer, Google, the iPhone, Facebook, and the first mass-produced electric vehicle. In more recent years, the pace of this innovation has only increased, thanks in large part to the contributions of immigrants. 50% of the America’s unicorns had at least 1 immigrant founder, and 28% of new startups are founded by immigrants. Were it not for the contributions of immigrants, we would not have Apple, Google, or Tesla.

Contrary to President Trump’s assertion that these individuals are “detrimental to the interests of the United States,” BuzzHero believes that bringing Americans and immigrants together to create and innovate in America is in everyone’s interest.

Stand Out During Resume Screen

Stand Out During Screening

At Buzz Hero, we work to assess and recruit programmers from all levels of experience, and, as a result, have met tons of highly-talented individuals and reviewed even more resumes. The candidates all come from disparate work backgrounds and possess varying levels of experience. In our experience, every candidate, no matter how technically qualified, is questioned based on his or her resume. Eventually, all candidate feedback becomes variations on the following theme:

“Though you were clearly hardworking and a strong candidate, you wouldn’t be able to keep up with our pace and would need a bit more coaching than we have the capacity for at the moment. Please stay in touch!”

No matter how a candidate writes or formats his or her resume, it is almost impossible to stand out. According to Glassdoor, each corporate job opening receives an average of 250 resumes. Eventually, the process becomes so mind-numbing that relying on the resume alone can be the kiss of death for a candidate who is looking to make the leap.

How, then, can one stand out in a field of dozens of seemingly-identical candidates during the early stages of the job search? From our experience, there are 2 solutions: building a personal connection with the hiring organization, and showcasing one’s skills.

Candidates who are able to connect with hiring managers on a personal level will often do much better when they are applying for open roles. Candidates can build a deeper connection with hiring organizations by attending the organization’s events/meetups or by personally reaching out to individuals in the team in which they would be working. Once a relationship has been built, the resume is much less meaningful.

If networking one’s way into an organization is not possible, candidates need to bring to life the skills listed on a resume. Building a portfolio of previous work, candidates can demonstrate their skills; ultimately, this is what hiring companies want most.

In taking actions like these, a candidate can easily stand head and shoulders above the competition during the resume-screening process, and beyond.

Hiring the right candidate

Hiring on the Spectrum

At BuzzHero, one of our core beliefs is that talented people are screened out of the hiring process because they don’t have right keywords on a resume. Subconsciously, employers may have an affiliation with the applicant’s alma mater, play common sport with the applicant, or have travelled to the applicant’s country of origin. Consciously, employers may only select people that work at a well-known company or graduated from a top 10 school.

While I’ve had the benefit of working at a company that is on record of having the second largest IPO in U.S. history (second to Alibaba and bigger than Facebook) and I’ve been the beneficiary of earning a degree from a top US school, I realize that there are a LOT of talented people who have not had the same good fortune. BuzzHero believes that people should be hired based on their skills and not their labels on a resume. Our product showcases a candidate’s technical skills so that on-site decisions can be based on merit. This creates opportunities for candidates and expands the pools from which companies recruit.

For the last couple of months, BuzzHero has been working with Expandability to connect people on the autism spectrum who are very talented and have difficulty finding suitable employment with employers who could benefit from their skills. Expandability ran a successful program with SAP, whose goal is to hire so that 1% of their workforce is on the spectrum.

Now BuzzHero and Expandability are modifying the program so that multiple potential employers can benefit from the great talent. Together, we are conducting job preparation training classes for people on the autism spectrum and brining in potential employers to widen people’s networks and job opportunities. While this extends BuzzHero’s core product offering into training, it is fundamentally on point for our mission of creating job opportunities for people based on their skills. I am proud to be associated with such a program and looking forward to the great things we can do to help people on the spectrum find purpose through employment and help companies improve their diversity of culture of inclusion.

Hire Skills, Not Labels

Getting the Most out of Diverse Teams is Hard

Hire Skills, Not Labels

Diverse teams are worth the effort

Five years ago, I had a team whose mission was to find out how Visa could play a role in the financial lives of people in the emerging markets of Africa. I had a 10-person team from 6 different countries and 3 continents. 3 of the 10 people were female and everyone had different educational backgrounds.

Not everyone lived in Africa and we had to operate across 16 time zones while bridging massive cultural differences. Fortunately, everyone was fluent in English. While we were all using English, however, the cultural differences led to different interpretations of the same words. For example, in a meeting, an agreement would be made and some would interpret that agreement to be final and others would interpret the agreement as something to be considered. The binary thinking of the western world doesn’t always work when people are not raised to think that way.

As a result, tensions could escalate. In some respects, it would have been easier if everyone didn’t have a good command of the English language. Then, people would be more deliberate in their communication and not assume that what was said was understood in the same manner. Leading this team was hard. We had to ensure that everyone had the chance to speak. We had to ensure that what was nominally agreed to was really agreed to and not later reconsidered.

However, when the team worked as one it was wonderful. We created a unique product offering that was drew upon everyone’s unique contribution and perspective. The product was relevant to the local needs and built with the standards that made Visa the largest payments network in the world. The marketing was sophisticated but not too complex. The launch events were very relevant locally using local actors who stayed on message. And pricing was considered reasonable by the local clients.

Managing diverse teams of different ethnicities, cultures, first languages, gender, and education required conscious effort to embrace what each person brought to the table. Having a common mission, really listening to each other, and respecting each other’s working styles is how we overcame these difficulties to develop something that is truly special. Since its inception in Rwanda, the mVisa product has evolved, launched in India and Kenya, and will soon be available in Nigeria. It’s a product that can and will scale, serve local needs, and would not have been possible without such as diverse team.

Resumes Need to Die

Resumes Are The Worst

By now, updating one’s resume during the job search process is as commonplace as breathing.

The resume started as a value-add in the hiring process. It was a chance to separate yourself from your peers through organization, structure and storytelling about your skills. The resume has grown into the corner stone of talent acquisition, as it is the key method of tracking and organizing of candidate data in any Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Unfortunately, as things become standard and systemic humans will constantly push the limits to work that system.

As a result, the resume, once a cornerstone for candidate differentiation, has become a baseline to begin any career move. This shift has had predictable consequences–a survey of 2500 hiring managers revealed that 56% have caught people lying on their resume.

The same survey found that 25% of hiring managers encountered candidates who fabricated their previous employment. These statistics prove that the system is now overloaded with misdirection and it is time for resume to go the way of the dinosaur.

Resume success is tied to keyword optimization

With the advent of search engine optimization and key word checkers on applicant databases often prospective employees feel the need to overload their resume with key words simply to make it in to the hiring process. This directly contributes to the “war on talent” as the labels on this piece of paper do not match up with the skill set of the candidate. In a world where time is money, taking hours to discern which skills a candidate has, leads to a massive opportunity cost. This leads to many diamonds being sidelined in a 6 second resume review.

One vignette recently uncovered was a candidate simply loading up the last white space on her resume with key words in white font. When printed out the hiring manager is none the wiser but on a machine those keywords push that resume to the top of the pile. This disparity between labels and skills has become a theme within today’s hiring climate.

Resumes introduce bias into the process from the outset

What school did you attend? How old are you? What is your visa status?

All these questions immediately cross through a managers head when reviewing a resume. Whether they realize it or not, this is an unconscious reaction when receiving a resume. The fact that any of these could be a non-starter for a candidate seeking his/her next career move is unfortunate and wrong.

Resumes provide a timeline of your career history and this history varies in quality. This variety in quality does not necessarily represent a discrepancy in skills… It often represents a disparity in opportunities presented through ones life.

A candidate growing up in a less than advantaged climate and attending a mid-major school is automatically 2 steps behind someone who could be of equal mental acumen from a more advantaged back ground. In order to truly understand the diversity issue we see in the technology space, one must understand these advantages compound as a candidate’s career moves forward.

Resumes all look the same

The time commitment to go through resume review and into a first phone screen is immense. The recruiting teams at most companies are overloaded with this task. To the point where many companies completely disregard the pool of inbound applicants. They focus entirely on candidates sourced by recruiters (under the direction of hiring managers) and employee referrals. Often this will lead to large group of individuals with similar affinities and actually decrease the overall productivity and creativity of a company’s workforce.

With regard to technical recruiting there are now services which actually will write your resume for you and guarantee to get you to a first round interview. This often leads to side by side coaching on any phone screen and inevitably wasted time during the candidate’s onsite. Once these services find a resume which produces a phone call or response from a specific company they simply change the name and personal data at the top to pump more of their clients in the hiring funnel.

Resume 2.0

Creativity is king and queen in today’s world and this has touched the resume space as well. I have seen developers code there resume into game of super Mario. Marketers are creating video resumes and using social media skill to drive shares and gain an organic audience for this skill demonstration. Musicians immediately submit a demo of their work.

What’s the common theme amongst the strategies? Skills.

The resume 2.0 will be an objective showcase of ones skills directly relating to job activities.


How To Set Up Blind Assessments

blind_assignment_finalBuzz believes the hiring process should be a meritocracy. Unconscious bias is one of the main pitfalls many companies face. By reducing unconscious bias, organizations can guarantee their incoming talent is hired for their technical capabilities, and deemphasize their demographic or resume-based information.

The following three steps will help you ensure that your organization’s hiring decisions are consistent and bias-free.

  1. Use a pre-determined rubric and question set

Hiring managers should develop a predetermined rubric and question set for each open role. Assessors should then run the candidate through this question set, grading his/her responses against a consistent rubric all the while. Then, after the assessment is complete, the assessor should have the opportunity to write up subjective feedback on the candidate. In this way, objective and subjective perspectives can retain their integrity and weight, which will allow hiring managers to more clearly understand a candidate’s capabilities.

  1. Do not provide the assessor with candidate resumes

Resumes are a key source of bias. Candidates are often hired or given special consideration based on the schools they attended, the previous employers, their name, etc. While these can be useful pieces of information in the hiring process, they can also prejudice an assessor. When assessing a candidate, the assessor must remain laser-focused on how the candidate performs against a given question set, not on the candidate’s background or demographic information.

  1. Grade rubrics before any other information

The hiring manager should examine the assessors’ completed rubrics first, without any subjective feedback, without knowing the candidate names, and without seeing any candidate resumes. It is crucial that the hiring manager scrutinizes the objective assessment first, so that he or she can develop an impartial view of the candidates’ technical capabilities. In so doing, one can ensure that literally every candidate who is considered for a role meets the technical job requirements, and that no candidate receives any sort of preferential treatment.


3 Steps to Improve Your Interviews


In this hyper-competitive tech market, providing a good interview experience is critical. And yet, no one organization seems to have perfected it. Fortunately, creating a truly awesome experience can be relatively simple. To resolve the problem, interviewers need to take three basic steps:

Step 1: Make the interview experience consistent whether you like the candidate or not.

Step 2: Provide clear and constructive feedback to candidates.

Step 3: Listen to what candidates say about you hiring process.

If your organization can achieve these simple tasks, your candidates’ experience will be better than those offered by Glassdoor’s Top 20 Employers. A few weeks ago, we ran a post on improving Candidate Experience. We found that everyone can improve — even Glassdoor’s Top 20 Employers fell prey to very common interviewing mistakes.

The study showed that candidates’ concerns were not particularly varied — ultimately, there were 3 key problems that plagued candidates across the board:

  1. Inconsistent Experience
  2. Unclear Interview Questions
  3. Feedback Void

Though circumstances differed on a case-by-case basis, basically every negative review mentioned one or more of these central issues.

I went ahead and wrote the code, fixed all errors and ran it… I believe I solved it correctly but got no feedback. He just copied my code and said he’ll check the output later. A day later I got the email that they don’t think my background and qualifications match with the position and they have not decided to go ahead with the interview process.

Following this post, we sent out a survey (thanks very much to our participants!) on interviewing and the candidate experience. This survey served to illuminate where and how interviewers are causing the issues candidates highlighted above. All survey participants were themselves interviewers and all considered candidate experience to be of importance:

  • 50% of participants identified themselves as working to “improve the hiring process”
  • 84% claimed that candidate experience was “Important” or “Very Important”

For the most part, survey participants acknowledged the problems that candidates highlighted from the earlier blog post:

  • 0% Considered the interview experience to be anywhere near entirely consistent
  • 34% Thought the experience differed widely on a case-by-case basis.

Fortunately, creating a delightful candidate experience is not difficult. The following guide should set you well on the path towards the ideal experience:

  1. Interviewers must make the experience consistent for candidates. They can achieve this by implementing a well-designed interview structure. By asking questions from a script or outline and make decisions against a predefined rubric, one can ensure interviews are well-structured and that hiring criteria are uniform in both concept and execution.
  2. Providing feedback is imperative. Unfortunately, all feedback is not created equal– in order to provide the right kind of feedback. Tell your candidate what you were looking for in your questions and explain the gap between the answer you wanted and the one they gave. Additionally, provide a recommendation for what the candidate should work on going forward.
  3. Capture candidate feedback at the end of the process. In this way, you can stay abreast of candidates’ ongoing concerns and pain points throughout the process. Candidates, like all of us, appreciate being listened to. By simply giving them space to voice their reaction and listening appropriately, you can provide a much more welcoming and receptive environment.

Implementing these actions can be a quick and painless process, and will improve candidates’ interview experience enormously.

Interested in finding out more? Click here to head to our website.


Case Study: Fixing the Funnel

A large multinational technology company faced a critical and all-too-common recruiting problem: they needed to hire more quality talent at a faster rate. In their US offices, this company is surrounded by Google, Facebook, and Apple– which has made recruiting top talent a more arduous and inconsistent process. They needed to improve the quality of their teams and their speed-to-hire, and couldn’t do so through traditional means.

With Buzz, this company no longer faced the same restrictions on talent and quality. When we initially discussed our product and typical results with the client, the hiring manager had doubts that we could quickly produce high quality candidates from passive searches. Working with this hiring manager and an engineering VP, Buzz helped hire fantastic candidates in record time and with minimal effort.

On average, it took Buzz 7 days from initial contact to the final face-to-face interview. In comparison, estimates of industry average range from 3-5 weeks. In less than one quarter of that time, we would weed out under-qualified candidates and screen in those who were interested and talented. By ensuring that engineering only spent time with the best candidates in the market, 50% of those interviewed on-site were converted to a full-time role. Additionally, engineering resources could continue to work on product during this time, instead of spending tons of time testing under-qualified candidates.

The end result? The time-hire is reduced to mere 18 days vs. the industry standard of 33 days.  And, the same hiring manager who had initial doubts is now accepting F2F interviews solely based on Buzz’s technical assessments and a culture/values fit discussion.

PS: Start your free trial with Buzz today.