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Death Match: SonicJobs

Welcome to Death Match, Europe 2020, SonicJobs.

This Chad and Cheese Death Match episode features this year's champion Mikhil Raja, cofounder and CEO at SonicJobs. Unlike most Death Matches, this one took place online (thanks COVID-19!).

Never fear! The home bars were open which meant the pints were full and the Chad and Cheese snark was flying. Pontoon Solutions provided third judge Craig Rhodes ... and warning: that dude is a pit bull.

Enjoy this exclusive TAtech presentation, powered by Pontoon Solutions


Disability Solutions provides full-scale inclusion initiatives for people with disabilities.

Chad: Welcome back to Death Match, Europe digital edition. This Chad and Cheese Death Match startup competition episode features, Mikhil Raja, co-founder and CEO at SonicJobs. Digital Death Match took place during, TAtech Europe Digital,on, April 28th, 2020 with a virtual room full of TAtech practitioners. Judges, Chad and Cheese we're joined by, Craig Rhodes of Pontoon Solutions. Who was drinking a Budweiser, what? I know you're asking yourself, who's going to be Death Match grand champ? Who's going to walk away with the chain of champions? Well, you've got to listen. Enjoy, right after, this word from our sponsor.

Joel: Hey Chad.

Chad: What's up?

Joel: Dude, all the cool kids are talking about RXO and I just have one simple question.

Chad: Yeah.

Joel: What the hell is RXO?

Chad: Typical cheese, maybe if you'd stop dogging on millennials for two seconds, you'd learn something.

Joel: All right. Stop busting my chops and break it down.

Chad: Okay. So, RXO stands for Recruitment eXperience Outsourcing.

Joel: So not, Rotten Xenophobic Overlord.

Chad: No, and nobody does RXO like our buddies over at Pontoon Solutions.

Joel: Poon Tang Solutions.

Chad: Okay, stop being a 13 year old for a second. Pontoon Solutions transforms the overall candidate experience and recruiter experience, with cutting edge technology and optimize processes. Pontoon Solutions doesn't just lift and shift operations, they architect better ones. Your brand and people deserve to be priority one. Your talent deserves more than just being a part of the process. They deserve a great experience.

Joel: I like it. But what kind of companies need RXO?

Chad: Well, if you're a hiring company who spends way too much on recruitment agencies and maybe have weak talent pipelines, or you just have a nonexistent, or bad employer brand. And employers need to do more than transform their current recruitment processes, they need consistent and tech-driven experiences. Those companies pretty much just about all companies out there cause they suck at it, they need RXO.

Joel: Nice. And, with people on the ground in over 32 countries and six delivery centers.

Chad: Damn!

Joel: Pontoon Solutions strikes the perfect balance of global and local support. Dude, I'm down with RXO. Where can I find out more?

Chad: Hit them up at, and transform your talent acquisition strategy, now.

Joel: Roger that,

Chad: Poon Tang.

Intro: Hide your kids, lock the doors, you're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts. Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark. Buckle up boys and girls, it's time for The Chad and Cheese Podcast.

Chad: And welcome to Death Match kids.

Joel: Death Match baby.

Chad: That's right. It's going to open up.

Joel: Contestant, I mean, victim number three.

Chad: Oh, yeah.

Joel: Who's going to win the chain baby?

Chad: Yeah, so.

Joel: Who wants it?

Chad: For all the TAtech stalkers that are out there, watching us right now. You voyeurs, you bad little people. Welcome to Death Match. We're here today with Mikhil Raja. I'll get it.

Joel: Don't call him Michael. Don't do it.

Chad: CEO of SonicJobs. So quick, Death Match intro for all you newbies. Death Match is a competition that pits four-cum-four, innovative early stage companies against one another. Four enter and only one leave anointed as Death Match grand champion, with the ability to wear, what Joel has around his neck. That's right, baby.

Joel: Who's going to come out of the thunderdome baby?

Chad: Yep. So let's introduce the judges. First and foremost, our guest judge, his name is Craig Rhodes. He is the technology business partner over at Pontoon Solutions. And what that means, is he gets to play with cool tech shit all of the time. So, if you should be as scared of anybody, with regard to questions, it'll be that guy, which is why he's going first. Then we have Judge Cheese, that's Joel Cheesman and myself

Joel: Keeping it real.

Chad: ... Judge, Chad. Chad Sowash, Joel Cheesman co-hosts and bad-ass podcasters from the Chad and Cheese podcast. Now let's break it down real quick. How does Death Match work? So Mikhil, you have two minutes to pitch SonicJobs and at the end of those two minutes you're going to hear the horn, which is very annoying and Joel loves to play it. Then Craig, Joel and I will hit you with rapid fire Q and A, for the balance of the 15 minutes. Be concise or we'll just talk right through you. Don't start dancing or you'll get the bullshit button.

Bullshit Button: Oh, come on now, that ain't even bullshit, that's horseshit.

Chad: Are you ready?

Joel: Your two minutes starts.

Mikhil: Hi, I'm Mikhil. I'm the CEO and co-founder of SonicJobs. Over 65% of clicks on blue-collar jobs are from mobile, yet only 4.1% of those clicks turn into completed applications. Why the huge drop-off? Number one, candidates can't edit their CV when completing an application on mobile and uploading an existing CV is suboptimal, and often cumbersome too. Number two, the blue-collar mobile process and candidate experience is really poor, with multiple websites being one after the other, and legacy ATS platforms. Enterprise employers are therefore wasting advertisement spend on clicks which are not converting to applications. There's no solution that helps employers engage with millennial and Gen Z candidates effectively. At SonicJobs, we've created a mobile application with an artificial intelligence chatbot called Julie. Julie will chat to the candidate and in five minutes will create a beautiful one to two page PDF, CV. Julie will also recommend the most suitable jobs based on experience, skills and location. And the unique bit about this is that the candidate can apply for any of these jobs in just one click on their mobile. Versus the 4.1%, we deliver a 23.1% click to apply conversion, a five X increase on return on investment. And moreover, 32% of our candidates are unique and not on traditional platforms. We have a performance only paper apply monetization model and we integrate seamlessly with employers. We have over 200,000 jobs. We have over 220,000 candidates and we're growing fast.

Joel: Thank you. .

Chad: Nice. All right Craig. Time to time to hit Mikhil up.

Craig: Okay. So, little thing you said that I really want to dig into, being a millennial. You say, "There is no solution for millennials." So take me through that. What do you mean there's no solution? I guess, how do you solve that?

Mikhil: Yeah, so what I mean by that really is, there's no end to end mobile solution, which deals with enterprise jobs. So let's take an example, which you might know in the U.S or the UK. So, if you think about something like, there's kind of two buckets. You've got your traditional platform. So, in the UK that might be something like reed or totaljobs. And they deal with an enterprise, but the candidate when they go on there has to create their CV off, on a kind of PDF, or word, or whatever and then come on. So you've got this broken solution in terms of, starting that journey and completing that journey. And then you've got kind of, let's say, more millennial solutions, which are like job today in the UK or Merlin in the U.S. Except that they deal with SMBs and they don't effectively help that candidate create the CV and go through that entire process, which helps them apply for enterprise jobs.

Chad: So you're saying the conversational piece?

Mikhil: The millennial link with the mobile phone.

Chad: So you're saying the conversational piece is really the big piece that is focused on millennials? Is that what I'm hearing?

Mikhil: Yeah. The mobile combined with the conversational piece, yes.

Chad: Okay.

Craig: What about the experience here then? Because I can't imagine making a CV on my phone is easy. Writing about my skills, giving a bit of a blurb, here's who I am, I'm I typing on a phone compared to building on a computer. How are you improving that experience? Cause I can't see how

Joel: There's the chatbot, the application process.

Mikhil: Yeah. So, firstly it's the chat, but secondly, more importantly, Julie is recommending and suggesting, the key input. So, you're not having free texts that you have to type loads of stuff into.

Craig: ... Okay.

Mikhil: The whole nature of the way Julie works and the whole AI aspect of it is, we've mapped the entire blue-collar ecosystem in terms of roles and then also responsibilities that link to those roles. So for example, Julie will know, if you've worked in a particular company that you might have a specific set of roles. So if you've worked in a restaurant, you could be a waiter, you could be a bartender. But even within those, you could be a senior bartender, or a barback or a chef de partie, or something else. And Julie will suggest those and once you say, "Okay, chef de partie." Julie can go further and say, "Okay, well did you cut vegetables? Did you serve the waiter? Did you go further?" So the artificial intelligence part of that is, feeds into exactly that. And if you like, I can show you a demo of how that works given that this is a zoom call.

Joel: Not today, you're not.

Chad: Not today kid.

Joel: Mikhil.

Mikhil: Okay.

Joel: A little bit of timeliness. You focus a lot on service jobs, hourly stuff, and those people are out of work right now and not in a state of getting employed anytime soon. So, is there a pivot in your future? Are you prepared for an economic meltdown like we're seeing right now?

Mikhil: True. Actually, we are more or less flat month on month, at the moment. And even we expect to be going forward. And the reason for that is, hospitality and retail has really dropped, entirely. But healthcare cleaning, logistics warehouse, they've massively increased. So net we've actually remained flat and we think this is a really good opportunity for blue-collar overall and our platform in general where, you've got these two waves coming, which is currently as I described now. And then after the event, you're going to have hospitality events, retail hiring again. But then also all of these industries like healthcare, logistics, delivery, they'll continue to hire extensively. So, I think blue-collar is very much the focus, for 2020. And as a response to COVID, and I think our platform has a unique position within that.

Chad: Well, I have to say, first off, I love Julie. Literally, that's my wife's name. So, it says on your website, "Create your CV in one minute and get hired in one day." I love that slogan, but that is one hell of a bar to actually try to get over. How do you know that 32% of candidates, are not on other job boards? How do you know that? What research do you have for that?

Mikhil: Simple answer, we work with the job boards. So we know, it's a metric that we measure against, the job boards. So, when I mentioned the 200,000 jobs, and we started with mainly job boards, that we worked with. And they worked with us precisely for the reason of giving them unique candidates. So it was a core metric from day one and it continues to be now. And as we move across also to agencies and direct clients, it's a metric we track as well.

Chad: How many downloads of your app to date?

Mikhil: So we have over 220,000 candidates, have signed in and created a CV.

Chad: Okay.

Mikhil: So that's a more

Joel: Is that just in the UK?

Mikhil: ... In all across the UK, yes.

Chad: Okay.

Joel: Okay.

Chad: So why are you forcing everybody into an app?

Mikhil: Well, there's two schools of thought here. One is, you make it really simple and you do it on WhatsApp or something like that. And the other school of thought is you can create a more holistic experience. We believe that it's harder to get people to an app, but we can create a more holistic experience. We can help them create the CV, they can store their CV, we're even moving on to helping them, communicate with employers, which is something that blue-collar candidates find quite hard in terms of suggestions. So, Julie can be more comprehensive. Julie can be more supportive and we feel that's a more comprehensive, solution for the candidate.

Chad: Well, you think employers are, it makes sense, I think for employers because they're going to need to hire. But for the actual job seekers themselves, you're asking them to download something that is not a routine and in everyday life for them. So that's interesting that you would force them into an app, as opposed to actually focusing on perspectively, engaging in a web app or what have you.

Mikhil: Yeah, I mean

Chad: Now for an employer, how long does it actually take for them to setup a job in your system, including pre-screening?

Mikhil: ... So we deal with enterprise employers. So we'll integrate with the ATSs, or we'll take XML feeds, APIs et cetera. Typically that takes, just under two weeks, for us to get the XML integrated within the app and then go live. Part of that is Apple and Google take a little bit of time to approve the app. So there's a little bit of approval time, but, yeah, it's just under two weeks. It's typically the average time.

Craig: How much do you charge for an API?

Mikhil: We don't charge, there's no cost at all apart from

Craig: Regardless of the ATS?

Mikhil: ... Yeah, regardless of the ATS. We charge on, performance basis. So the whole point is we want to be a sticky partner, right? So we're integrating with you. We want you to advertise with us, not just once.

Craig: Do you cover the ATS charge for the API as well?

Mikhil: We do. Yes.

Craig: Okay.

Mikhil: So with broad being with Logic Mellon, Edibu, we've covered the cost, on behalf of clients. And that's

Craig: It's a bold investment, because I know some of them go to nearly $10,000. So, that's bold for you to cover that.

Mikhil: ... Yeah, I mean, obviously we only cover that when we have a client on the back of it, right? So we only cover it when we know we've got at least one client on that ATS. But we see it as part of a cost of scaling stock sales and marketing.

Craig: Okay.

Joel: So I want to sort of continue the marketing conversation and obviously expecting downloads of an app is certainly challenging. And maybe, in Europe, or UK that's not as much of a hurdle as it is in the US. But I'm curious, there's always the chicken and egg issue with job sites, right? You need employers and jobs and you need job seekers. So, talk to me about your marketing plan, what's working, what isn't, and how you expect to continue to grow in the future.

Mikhil: Yeah. So because you've got this end to end mobile journey, we can advertise more effectively on Snapchat, on Instagram, on Facebook, than your traditional job boards. So your traditional job board, imagine you're I don't CV library in the UK, you've got a pot of money to allocate on web, which is Google. And then on, you might have some mobile or Facebook, Instagram, et cetera. Those platforms because their technology is web-based, they are much more efficient with their cost of acquisition on web, which is Google, than they are on Facebook and Instagram, et cetera. Now that's great. And that's an opportunity for us. So we've created technology, which is fully end to end, which means we don't use Google at all. We just use Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, other social young.

Joel: TikTok.

Chad: Finally.

Mikhil: And we bring the candidate on, and the candidate has a seamless journey. And then they can apply for those jobs. So that's where our acquisition is unique and that's where, we were able to

Joel: Which of those is the most effective? And what's your typical cost per acquisition on a job seeker?

Mikhil: ... We wouldn't go into cost per position on a job seeker publicly. But, the most effective platform at the moment is Instagram for us. That is seasonal, we do have, Snapchat. TikTok is at the moment probably the least effective, although we think that will change at least in the UK, that we think that will change going forward.

Craig: Who designed your adverts then on Instagram? You have a team that does that or did you just have a generic sort of image with some text on it for the client?

Mikhil: No. We have our own team. And, I mean, that's part of a, let's say secret sauce. In terms of acquiring candidates is, we've built that knowledge in-house in terms of; the copy to use, the sort of audience to go to, the timings, the amounts to spend, et cetera. And what's a good... We measure cost per CV created. We're focused not on installs and sign ups. We want to know, okay, what's your cost per candidate coming all the way through, to be able to apply for the job? Cause that's where we get value. That's where the employer gets value, that.

Chad: They have a full, meme creation group. So, when you talk about

Mikhil: Yeah, we do.

Joel: Chad doesn't mean moonwalk.

Chad: ... You guys have a one click apply. Now, in today's landscape, is much different than three months ago, right? One click means most of these employers are going to get flooded with candidates, right? So from your standpoint with that flood, that ensuing flood, how are you going to ensure that that flood doesn't meet any hoards of candidates that are not qualified, that they're only getting the qualified candidates through the hiring process?

Mikhil: So, firstly, I want to break down an assumption within that question and it's a question we often get. So I'll just break that down, which is that, candidates or employers sometimes tell us, "Well, why does a 4.1% conversion matter? We get lots of applications anyway." Right? And what that assumes is that all candidates are equal. But actually, the data that we have is that the most experienced candidates, the best candidates for your job are actually the most impatient. So, what you're doing with that is you're actually, by having an inefficient structure, you're reducing the quality. Yes, you'll get, you're getting a lot of candidates, anywhere in here you'll have more. But your overall quality is reduced by having an inefficient process.

Chad: But that data is on an entirely different market than what it is today. Three months ago, I would agree with you 100%, but that's not the market we are in today. So you're using old data to be able to talk about UX that I don't believe is going to exist.

Mikhil: Sure. So, let's talk about how it is now. I mean, most of our employers will have their own selection criteria. And even within the app, you can select your own criteria. So you can say, for example, we work with healthcare groups that are recruiting nurses.

Chad: So screening is a part of the actual application process and that is dictated by the actual company itself.

Mikhil: Exactly. And that is determined by, even the jobs that you see, on the apps.

Chad: Nice. Good job.

Joel: Thank you Mikhil.

Chad: Mikhil Raja.

Mikhil: Thank you.

Joel: From SonicJobs people.

Joel: And by the way Chad's, Julie as a chatbot too. Just so you know.

Chad: She's a chatbot. Yeah. She's my favorite. Excellent, we out.

Mikhil: Thanks for your time.

Chester: Thank you for listening to podcast with Chad and Cheese. Brilliant, they talk about recruiting, they talk about technology, but most of all, they talk about nothing. Anywho, be sure to subscribe today on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. We out.

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