Guild.com - using big data to hire developers

Gild.com is a big data solution for sourcing the best programmers and developers.

Does a computer science degree create better programmers? Can big data erase human bias from job recruiting?

Gild is putting that to the test. It’s an 18 month old startup that is aiming to use big data to automate the search for IT programmers and developers, and to remove human bias from the hiring process at the same time.

A big data sourcing success story

Jade Dominguez, 26, of California did not attend college. Gild found him and it led to a job in programming.

“It’s the great thing about code, it’s largely merit-driven. It’s not about what you’ve studied. It’s about what you’ve shipped.” – Jade Dominguez

Many IT recruiters, like the ones here at Stafflink, use advanced Boolean search strings to mine the web for talented programmers. Gild aims to automate this process with algorithms that scrape the web for code samples and social media interactions that indicate what others think of their code.

How Gild evaluates programmers

Guild looks for indicators such as:

  • Is the code well regarded by peers
  • Does the code get re-used
  • How the person relates on social media sites as a programmer

In all, Gild’s algorithm crunches thousands of bits of information in calculating around 300 larger variables about an individual: the sites where a person hangs out; the types of language, positive or negative, that he or she uses to describe technology of various kinds; self-reported skills on LinkedIn; the projects a person has worked on, and for how long; and, yes, where he or she went to school, in what major, and how that school was ranked that year by U.S. News & World Report. Matt Richtel on Dr. Viviene Ming, the chief scientist at Gild

Gild attempts to eliminate human bias

Dr. Vivienne Ming, the chief scientist at Gild, is also attempting to build a machine that eliminates human bias from employee selection. She believes that human bias is responsible for “so much wasted talent.” But it is questionable whether Gild can evaluate the soft skills that are essential for a successful job placement.

“The algorithm did a good job measuring what it can measure. It nailed Mr. Dominguez’s talent for working with computers. What is still unfolding is how he uses his talent over the long term, working with people.” Dr. Ming

What big data can’t measure

Tools like Gild (and competitors TalentBin and Remarkable Hire) are great at assisting recruiters with creating shortlists of strong programmers. But there are subtle traits that big data algorithms are not so good at quantifying. Such as a person’s ability to work in a structured environment, or to handle conflict, or to work closely with others.

Sean Goudrey of Quid (a big data company) says, “Big data has its own bias, you measure what you can measure and you’re denigrating what can’t be measured, like gut instinct and charisma.”

This is where your friendly staffing agency can help ensure that you hire the right person, because we screen for communication skills, behavioural skills, and personality fit.

Is Gild worth twice the cost of traditional job boards?

Gild is charging about twice as much a traditional job boards for searching their database. They provide a different service than traditional job boards for sure, but does it warrant the cost? They have some big name clients such as Salesforce and Redhat that seem to think so.

I believe that companies that can afford workforce science tools like Gild, will use it to help compliment their existing talent sourcing strategies. I have not seen tools that use big data that screen for behavioural skills accurately yet. We’re going to give Gild a test run to see if this is the one.

Have you used any of these tools? Do you think a big data tool like Gild will change the way companies do recruiting?

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