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What's Next for Tech Talent

According to, over 200,000 tech industry employees lost their jobs in 2023, and almost 50,000 have already been laid off this year. So what's going on? Well, it's complicated, but - spoiler alert - the world isn't ending for tech pros looking for great opportunities. To help us make sense of it all, we invited Mark Chaffey, CEO at Hackajob on the podcast to understand it all. What's the impact of generative AI and ChatGPT on tech jobs? How can junior tech pros evolve? And what is going on with seed round-level startups after the dust has settled. If you hire techies, it's a must listen to survive today's challenging landscape.

PODCAST TRASNCRIPTION (blame Riverside for imperfections)

Joel Cheesman (00:22.811)

Oh yeah, it's Winston Churchill's favorite podcast, AKA the Chad and Cheese podcast. I'm your cohost, Joel Cheeseman. Joined as always, the Holmes to my Sherlock, Chad Sowash is in the house as we welcome Mark Chaffee, CEO at HackaJob. Mark, welcome to HR's Most Dangerous Podcast.

Chad (00:32.627)

That's a lie. That's a lie.

Mark Chaffey (00:49.806)

Gents, thank you so much for having me on. I think the phrase is long -term listener, first -time caller. So, excited to be here with you both.

Joel Cheesman (00:58.139)

You love us long time. You love us long time.

Chad (00:58.611)

Dude, the funny thing is I've never heard a New York Manhattan accent like that. This is odd. This is very odd.

Mark Chaffey (01:08.686)

It's a rare thing that you sometimes find such a charming British accent in a crazy city like Manhattan. But here we have it.

Chad (01:18.387)

Charming. I love how you set yourself up like that.

Joel Cheesman (01:19.259)

It's like Manhattan 1792. This is.

Chad (01:23.475)

So one of the things I love about Chicago and New York, and you're probably singing on a daily basis, Mark, is that you can walk down the street and you can get hit by about 20 different languages that are being spoken around you. And you're like, holy shit, where am I? Well, you're in New York City. Did you find that? And how long ago did you actually move to Manhattan?

Mark Chaffey (01:23.886)


Mark Chaffey (01:46.062)

Yeah, great, great question. So I started coming in October 22, that's when we launched the business here in the US and we're spending a ton of time here and got to try a lot of the very not cheap, but low quality hotels in Manhattan. And I got really sick and tired of staying in not cheap, but low quality hotels. So in May last year, I got an apartment here, but I didn't have a visa at that time.

Chad (01:51.699)


Mark Chaffey (02:10.766)

So hopefully our US custom friends aren't listening too much, but I was coming back and forth on an Esther, which you are legally allowed to do. And I wasn't doing work. I was consulting out here. It was fine. And then in August last year, I got my US visa for five years. So you guys have got me for five years. Big moment. But match at extension is obviously to get married and have a green card, obviously, because who doesn't love it here.

So yeah, so that's where and then yeah, from a why I love New York and maybe actually why I'd argue why I love New York maybe more than I like San Francisco is the melting pot of culture and industry, which is very similar to London, you know, prior coming to here, I spent 10 years in London and London's a very multicultural city. You have the finance district, you have theater and the arts, you have obviously the tech world and lots of culture. And I feel the same here in New York. I was at a happy hour last night and the

Joel Cheesman (02:38.811)


Chad (02:45.459)

Mm -hmm.

Mark Chaffey (03:05.422)

the interesting people that were there. You're sat next to like a construction entrepreneur, next to somebody that wants to run a Pilate studio, next to a bunch of tech people. And I think that sometimes San Francisco being so tech focused can kind of live in its own bubble, which is amazing for lots of reasons. But personally, I like the diversity of New York.

Joel Cheesman (03:22.459)

He's dying to say New York is better than London, but he won't, it won't, it won't come out. You can tell he wants to. Okay. Hot tech.

Mark Chaffey (03:27.502)

Okay, okay, here's my hot take. Here's my hot take, here's my hot take. I believe New York is the greatest city in the world. I said it. But my biggest beef with New York is you couldn't raise a family here. And London is way easier. Like the suburbs of London, even like just Richmond, which is still technically London, you could easily raise a family or you could just go out to Surrey or Buckinghamshire or wherever.

Joel Cheesman (03:35.195)


Mark Chaffey (03:50.926)

and raise a family. You kind of have Brooklyn, but actually all of the gentrified parts of Brooklyn now, you probably wouldn't want to raise a family or you might go up to Connecticut. That's actually quite far away. So I think for any businesses that I build moving forward, I'd probably headquarter out of New York would be my hot take.

Chad (04:07.219)

I think it's funny that you say Connecticut's far away. That is a European saying that for an American. I mean, that's a hop, skip and a jump. I mean, Connecticut's right there. It's like the bridge and then you're there and it's no big deal. Right? Yeah. That's kind of funny. It was very nice. Very nice. Yeah.

Joel Cheesman (04:16.219)

Yeah, it's a quick train ride.

Joel Cheesman (04:22.683)

That was a very diplomatic answer. New York's best, but there's always a but there. Yeah. But so, so Mark, we're down this rabbit hole when we're getting ahead of ourselves. Some of our listeners don't know you, don't know HackaJob. Give us, give us, give us the quick bio.

Mark Chaffey (04:28.75)

was always about.

Chad (04:36.531)

I know more about you now.

Mark Chaffey (04:40.11)

Yeah, awesome. So co -founder and CEO at HackaJob, co -founded the business in my final year of college. We'll turn 10 this year, which is crazy. So we've been doing it almost a decade. A central hypothesis behind the business is that every company in the world is now a technology business. You know, technology has evolved from a standalone industry to a function that touches every industry. And so therefore the ability to engage, hire, retain technical talent is a bordering priority. Like if you do not have a really comprehensive tech strategy.

Over the next 10 years as a company, you're going to be irrelevant. The challenge is that that tech persona is a slightly unique persona. If you think about all of the amazing work we've done in internal recruitment over the last decade, it's heavily dependent on platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed. And the reality is that audience does not live on LinkedIn and Indeed. So what we have built is a really candidate centric marketplace where we onboard users into our community. So it's all first party data. They are HackaJob users.

They go for a technical onboarding, a job fit onboarding and optional DENI onboarding. And then if they're relevant for the companies that are hiring, they're visible to employers for a period of four weeks. But we flip the model. So rather than the candidate applying to the job, the company makes the first move, which creates this really magical candidate experience, which in turn generates really high engagement for the company. That's what we do.

Chad (05:59.539)

Kind of like a reverse bumble is a.

Joel Cheesman (06:00.827)


Mark Chaffey (06:04.11)

Yeah, the company makes the first move is deliberate language because people instantly go, ah, bumble and I can associate with that. So yeah, for sure.

Chad (06:11.091)

Yeah, good call. Good call, good call. Well, today we want to talk about, we talk about tech all the time, as you well know, being a sponsor and knowing the show. Um, we, yeah, full disclosure, I'm also a, an advisor. Um, but at the, at the end of the day, there have been huge changes on the tech landscape here in the U S and just all over the world. And you guys have been in the front row.

Joel Cheesman (06:21.659)

Full disclosure.

Chad (06:38.643)

watching every single move that's been happening. So can you give us kind of like a top down what you've seen, clients, changes, what you guys have been able to do to kind of like pivot here and there, but just give us kind of like a landscape.

Mark Chaffey (06:53.838)

Yeah, I don't think there's been such a turbulent time in tech hiring since we set up the company. And I'm really excited by that, but there is like drastic change happening. So I put it into maybe three or four different pillars. The first pillar is kind of what I touched on. A lot of the companies that are hiring technical people right now are non -technology companies. One of the more recent stats I saw was that Walmart are currently the largest advertiser of tech vacancies in the US, which doesn't surprise me whatsoever. So that's like a big trend.

Chad (06:59.475)

Mm -hmm.

Joel Cheesman (07:18.267)

Hm. Nope.

Mark Chaffey (07:23.278)

And actually when we pulled off our fundraise last year, we were doing it in the midst of all of the big tech layoffs. And a lot of our job was educating investors, and actually that's not necessarily where a lot of the tech hiring is gonna go over the next five, 10 years. So that's definitely one of those big macro trends that we're seeing. Another big one is I think in most private and public organizations, the CFO is running the company at the moment. I think Joel, you're calling it the year of efficiency for a reason. And I...

Chad (07:23.411)


Joel Cheesman (07:50.715)

I'm just quoting Zuckerberg. I can't own that.

Mark Chaffey (07:53.678)

This is a hypothesis, but I think that when a CFO is looking at how do we drive efficiencies, how do we drive savings, they are looking at paying, you know, the average software engineer that gets hired on our platform in the US is on 180k USD, and they're working from home in a bedroom, and the CFO is going, well, if you're working from home in a bedroom, why can I not offshore that job to a much lower cost location and significantly save money?

And so I think we're seeing the rise of offshoring is coming back in a really big way. And then I think the third thing is obviously with what's happening with AI, there's two fundamental challenges there. Everybody, in my opinion, every knowledge worker is going to end up with some form of co -pilot, which is going to make them a lot more effective. So therefore our tech team is going to be smaller in the future than what they need to be today, which really questions the role of junior talent. We're seeing a big drop in demand for junior talent, which poses some challenges.

But then obviously companies want to acquire this AI talent. So as we have a customer last week and they've got to do 700 hires this year in tech, 600 of them are going to be in India. The only ones they're allowed to hire in the UK or the US is their data science team. It's the only team they've decided that they're going to hire in the UK and the US. So that's again, another big kind of trend there. So let's just like some of the headlines that we're seeing at the moment.

Joel Cheesman (09:14.171)

So I think.

Chad (09:14.291)

So real quick, on the junior talent side, if we're only hiring for senior and we're not hiring for junior, we're not creating a funnel to have those future senior programmers. So, I mean, how does that even work? I mean, that's a huge blind spot.

Joel Cheesman (09:31.611)

We're not developing the developers.

Mark Chaffey (09:35.054)

totally, which by the way, has always kind of been a bit of a challenge. You know, there's always been an appetite for companies to hire more mid to senior talent. And we obviously saw the kind of higher trained deploy models come to try and solve some of this, right? Which is, you know, we'll actually hire junior people for you, train them and then deploy them on site. Those businesses have really challenged over the last 12 to 24 months. And I think it speaks to one of our challenges as an industry, which is we are always very short term in our thinking.

We tend to be thinking about how do we solve today's problem and we'll get to tomorrow when tomorrow happens. And it comes back to one of the biggest topics that people talk about is workforce planning. I'm still yet to see an organization do workforce planning particularly well. But I think that, or at all, but I think this trend of senior engineer plus co -pilot drives a lot more efficiency will fundamentally make the junior role more challenged. Now there could be an inverse there.

Chad (10:15.091)

Or at all.

Mark Chaffey (10:28.91)

If you're a junior software engineer and you really understand and embrace these tools, can you ramp to be a senior engineer more quickly and get paid less because you have less experience, right? But it is certainly a dichotomy in a market right now that I don't think anybody is thinking two to five years out on the problems that this is going to cause.

Joel Cheesman (10:48.667)

Let me give you a quick thesis and you tell me if I'm right or wrong. So the Walmart comment was, is very interesting. You're well aware, 2023, 200 ,000 plus tech jobs gone. This year alone around 35 ,000 per layoffs .fyi. What I'm hearing you say is Google lays off, Facebook lays off, et cetera, Walmart target like big companies.

Chad (11:17.171)


Joel Cheesman (11:18.843)

don't have to fight Facebook and Google and Microsoft for those people. They're picking up, I don't want to say crumbs, but they're picking up the folks that have been dislodged from those companies. And we don't have to worry about those layoffs so much because there is opportunity for those folks. Am I right there or not?

Mark Chaffey (11:37.582)

So I will agree with most of it and challenge this one part on it. So I think that the whole tech layoffs headlines is sometimes a bit of a misnomer when we're talking about tech hiring, because what ends up happening is Facebook lays off 800 recruiters and we called it tech layoffs. Well, it wasn't tech people that lost their job. It was people that work at a technology company that lost their job. Now, to be clear, a lot of these tech layoffs do include technical talent and...

I was actually chatting to Josh Gample, friend of the show about this last week. If you think about one of the strategies that Meta and Google and these organizations had, it was effectively to hoard talent so that other companies couldn't have access to the best talent in the market. We're going to pay you very highly. We're producing so much free cash flow, we don't really care. And now Zach's turned around and said, actually, year of efficiency, we do need to actually run this company with the right level of headcount. And so you're absolutely spot on, Joel, in the sense that...

Chad (12:18.195)

Exactly. Yeah.

Mark Chaffey (12:32.974)

Organizations that never would have been able to acquire this talent before now actually have a real fighting chance to do it. So if you are Walmart or Target or Lowe's or any of these more legacy companies that are really investing in tech, now is a phenomenal time to take advantage of the drop in hiring in some of those more traditional big tech companies.

Joel Cheesman (12:48.923)

Yeah. And then, and then, and then my followup to that is I suspect, and you, you have your finger on the pulse of this, the number of startups founded by these folks that are, that were technology, uh, developers, et cetera, big companies, we should be seeing a explosion of seed, uh, funded startups around tech. Yes. And are you seeing that at where you're, where you sit? Yeah.

Mark Chaffey (13:10.99)

Yeah, 100%. Yeah, 100%. My second favorite podcast behind you guys is the All In podcast. And Jason Kadakannis, who's a very prolific angel investor, that's entirely his thesis right now. Now is one of the best times ever to start a startup. Why? There's less jobs out there for those people, less maybe interesting jobs out there for those people.

What is happening with LLMs is like a fundamental platform shift. So now is a great time to build, right? Because it is a fundamental platform shift. And actually I do a little bit of angel investing and I'm still relatively close to a lot of founders. The heat in the seed market is as hot as it's ever been. Like some of the valuations that seed deals are going at is crazy. It's really like a series B, series C, series B companies that are still really struggling in this market. But like the competition to get into some of these early.

Chad (13:37.811)


Mark Chaffey (14:02.606)

They're all AI companies. It's hilarious. Everybody is an AI company at that stage right now. But yeah, I think you're absolutely spot on on that, John. I think that you will see in a decade, the biggest companies that got built will come from this era over the next decade for sure.

Chad (14:06.035)

Of course. Yeah.

Chad (14:18.067)

To piggyback on your comment, which is pretty much every company is a tech company. Every company is going to be an AI company. I mean, so, and that's going to happen much faster than Walmart becoming a tech company, right? So that to me is incredibly interesting. The big question is, you know, up -skilling. Do we have enough infrastructure? Do we have, you know, the actual rails to ensure that, like you'd said before, these junior programmers,

or these junior tech people want to get into that next level, but if you don't have the experience, then how are you, how are you learning is that do we have the infrastructure to actually make that happen? Because much like you said, and we do this quarter to quarter in the U S as you well know, we don't look five years in advance. We only use, we only look three months in advance where we're fucking ourselves, but do we have.

guys like you and other platforms that are actually creating the infrastructure to ensure that this will happen and we will be able to cover those gaps.

Mark Chaffey (15:24.078)

So I think there's two different ways to think about this. I think where we're really interested is the reskidding of existing technologists. And we've always felt this is a very important part. Technology moves so quickly. You might be a PHP engineer, but actually like the most in -demand language right now might be Golang. And actually, if you already know PHP, you already know like the fundamentals of software engineering. You know, OOP principles, you might have worked on like Microsoft's architecture. And actually the leap to go from,

Chad (15:31.859)

Yes. Yes.

Mark Chaffey (15:53.294)

Okay, I know PHP to go is a much easier leap than I know nothing to PHP or nothing to software engineering. And so what we try and present to our users on the on the candidate side is like these pathways. If I'm a PHP engineer today, what skills could I learn in order to best advance my career prospects? And I think we're going to see the exact same like what we're seeing in AI is just a natural extension of that, right? What do you need in order to build some of these AI products where you need data engineers that are going to build the pipelines?

Right. And okay, if I'm like a Java engineer and I've had the opportunity to play around with Kafka and Hadoop already, but actually I could probably pivot into being a data engineer quite easily. If I'm already a data scientist, you know, actually, you know, can I take some of those machine learning principles and pivot into that quite quickly? Well, you're also going to see anytime there is a hot new skit out there is kind of, it's a very quick to hop on it. So when cloud platforms became very big, everybody that was a sys admin rebranded themselves a DevOps engineer.

and instantly were worth 50K more in the market. The challenge for companies were, were they a DevOps engineer or were they a sysadmin? And you're going to see the exact same here, right? Everyone now is going to be a machine learning engineer, a data scientist, and it's going to be like, you do have the skills that are required to do the job. So yeah, so that's kind of how we think about it. We're far more in the reskilling space than we are in like the zero to one space. And I think there will be platforms like ours out there that will facilitate that.

And I think one of the great things about the tech community is there's always that hunger and appetite to learn. So I think there will be good. Will we create enough net new technologists is always the fear. And I don't know. It would be my take that I really don't know.

Chad (17:30.771)

Well, off of that, are you guys even looking or thinking about, prospectively, partnering with universities, colleges and universities to be able to pipeline them into your platform? I mean, you are somewhat in the Venn diagram, a competitor of some of those because they want the money, right? But are you going to be able to pipeline those individuals, those junior, those new entry -level types of developers into the platform? Because I think that could really stoke the fires.

on the amount of juniors that we get to at least mid -level quickly.

Mark Chaffey (18:05.422)

Yeah, 100%. We already do a ton of work with some of the coding boot camps and with a ton of colleges here in the US and universities in the UK. And it's great because there's that learning aspect to the platform where they can go in, they can compete, they can compete in different challenges, et cetera, which is awesome. And we do then partner with companies to help them on their early careers program. It's normally done in a very different way. If you think about why is our marketplace successful, it's because typically there is more...

demand than there is supply. So you can build a marketplace where candidates are at the heart of it. In early careers, there are always more supply than there is demand. And so you kind of flip the model. And actually, typically when we partner with early careers programs, the application is a coding challenge, which is awesome because it definitely levels the playing field a lot. And we see real positive impact on like underrepresented candidates doing well when we do partner up with early careers programs. My fear is there's still not enough early career programs or just junior roles.

for the amount of demand coming in and that's a real hard thing to mismatch. So it's something that we already do. How do we think about that referral and partnership loop? Actually, if we don't have jobs for a user, is there a way where we refer them some content to learn or refer them to a bootcamp or refer them somewhere else so that we can try and help them become more employable?

Chad (19:23.603)

So how do we get deeper into the funnel and actually get to them in high school or middle school? Because as we start to learn languages like German or French or I don't know, Hadoop, right? I mean, it seems like it just makes sense. Do you see that happening? And I know that is very hard for a company that's been around for 10 years to be able to try to get that penetration, but do you see that happening again, just from an infrastructure and an upskilling standpoint?

Mark Chaffey (19:51.438)

No, to be honest, no, absolutely not. And I think it's cultural, by the way. What's really interesting is we've got some of our team are based in Romania. And the culture in Romania is like informatics is like the creme de la creme of academia. And under informatics will be mathematics and computer science, etc. In the UK, probably the creme de la creme is like literature, right? Shakespeare roots and all of that, right? And that's like kind of the culture of it. I won't comment on the US. I'll let you guys do that. So,

No, I don't think we are. What I would say is I don't know where we should be. So I think where we need to be really careful is that we're not trying to just produce more keyword software engineers, more Java software engineers or more Python software engineers. What we should be trying to equip the workforce with is the fundamental skills that make you successful and adaptable. Because whilst this might be the year of efficiency,

I think the key skill this year and beyond is how quickly can you adapt and learn new skills? Like what is happening with LLMs and AI is changing so fast and so quickly. What you might learn today could be completely useless in six months time. And so actually those fundamental skills of reasoning, of problem solving, by the way, being a great communicator, like really important in how you are as a technologist.

Chad (20:59.891)


Mark Chaffey (21:09.006)

I would be really thinking about how do we build those foundational layers and then yeah, maybe some of those software engineering principles like object oriented programming, like some different architecture designs, et cetera. How do we think about the fundamentals that we should be equipping people for rather than latest buzzword technology of the month, quarter, year, et cetera.

Chad (21:27.027)

Well, you point out a very, very big area of most developers are not great communicators, right? Most coders are not great communicators. So being able to add that layer to it is an entirely different, you know, periphery that most might not even think about.

Mark Chaffey (21:47.566)

I think Seth Godin said this, it might have been Seth Godin, someone on the Tim Ferriss show, is like, when I think about career advice for people, there's like two routes you could go down. You could go and chase and be like the top 0 .1 % in your field, you know, go and play professional basketball or football or go and be like the top 0 .1 % Java engineer in the world and like go and pursue that level of excellence or take two unrelated disciplines and just be in the top 10%, but because they're unrelated disciplines,

Chad (22:08.275)


Mark Chaffey (22:15.854)

When you're like in the top 10 % of a Java engineer and a top 10 % communicator, Java engineers that communicate well, you're now like right at the top of the tree. And it's way easier to get into the top 10 % of something than it is to get into the top 0 .1 % of something. And I thought that was like a great mental model to think about career advice, pairing non -typical skills together to really advance your career chances.

Chad (22:30.931)


Joel Cheesman (22:36.411)

Interesting. So I've always been amazed. You said earlier, these folks aren't on LinkedIn. They're not on Indeed. Obviously the schools are a source for users and people that are on the site. Talk about marketing, not just colleges I get, but the bigger, the broader spectrum. You know, when, when Microsoft bought GitHub, which owns LinkedIn, I was like, okay, it's over for everyone. Like targeting.

Chad (22:36.755)


Joel Cheesman (23:05.307)

tech people because they're going to marriage all this stuff together, which they haven't done. Feel free to comment on that. But how do you, how do you market to these people that apparently don't want to be found, uh, aren't on those sort of traditional portals? How do you market to those people and convince them to come on your site and use it?

Mark Chaffey (23:26.51)

Yeah, we should chat about Microsoft and GitHub and LinkedIn because that's a fascinating tree. And also Stack Overflow had a phenomenal opportunity to solve this problem and didn't. But let's chat on the marketing question. If we want it, we can go into that. So it's very different in a mature market for us, like the UK, versus a new market like the US. So if we start in a mature market like the UK, whilst this community is maybe harder to find online, the key word there is it's a community.

Chad (23:33.395)

Oh yeah, fell flat.

Mark Chaffey (23:54.67)

And so if you deliver an exceptional service, the referral loop is so strong. So in the UK, about a third of our users come from another user. So somebody would have referred us in to somebody in their network. About 20 % are reactivated users. They found a job on HackaJob in the past and they've come back around to use us again. And then about another 20 % are just pure organic SEO, which is when you've got the flywheel working so well, naturally people just come and find you, right?

And so it takes time to build that flywheel, that reputation and from there. So that's kind of like a mature market like the UK, which is now, you know, for us just like on, you know, it's, it's a machine at this point really, and operates really, really nicely. Exactly. When you come to the U S you firstly have the chicken and egg problem, you know, to get candidates, you need jobs to get jobs, you need candidates. How do you solve that? The way we solve that.

Joel Cheesman (24:33.787)

Yeah, autopilot.

Chad (24:43.539)

Mm -hmm.

Mark Chaffey (24:46.382)

was launching with existing customers from the UK. So because we tend to work with larger orgs, these are global companies, we were only supporting them in the UK, but now supporting them in the US. We also took a state by state approach because you want to try and build like local networks if you can. Even with remote work and work from home and all of that piece, I think that still is an important part and something that we definitely still lean into. And then it's funny that we say that these people aren't online. They absolutely are online. They're just in very different places to where we normally go for job seekers.

So Reddit is a phenomenal place to go and find where these people hang out. Discord is a phenomenal place to go and find out where these people hang out. Twitter or X is a much stronger engagement and community in it than that piece. And again, something I touched on earlier is these people generally, and we're talking stereotypes here, but you kind of have to when you're talking about marketing, always want to learn. So actually you can take a very content led approach in engaging them in the first place.

doesn't have to be about, hey, come and work at Walmart or Target or whoever. It can be like, oh my God, have you seen what this company is now doing with this technology? Come and learn about that. And that's like a great funnel to get them into our community. At which point we start collecting data on them, can then make really relevant recommendations from a job search engine. So we're now getting to this kind of like magical two year mark for us in the US, where you start seeing the flywheel come into effect. But that first two years is a graph. Like that is a lot of hard work to kind of build that initial

Joel Cheesman (25:51.611)


Mark Chaffey (26:12.206)

critical massive users in the US.

Chad (26:15.443)

Apparently you're at the spot where you feel comfortable enough to be able to open an entirely new market. And it's the biggest market in the world with regard to population and that's India. Now you mentioned earlier that, uh, CFOs are talking about, Hey, can we outsource this? Uh, organizations saying, Hey, 600 positions over, you know, outsourcing this was that the main, were you seeing that on a daily basis and said, Hey, look, we need to diversify. And this is definitely the next step.

Mark Chaffey (26:45.966)

Yeah, there was so many factors that led into this decision. If you think about strategically what is going on from like the CFO running a company, there's always a big focus on consolidation of tools. So actually we were hearing from customers, our team are pressuring us that you need to be able to support us in our key markets. So that was like a big thing. And like staying close to customers and listening to customers is so important. And then I just kept joining these customer calls and it was just time and time again, different anecdotes of the same story, which is...

we are offshoring talent, you know, not everything, but we are offshoring talent. So then the approach was, okay, if you had asked me six months ago, are we going to launch in the art? I said, no, to be clear, like that's how quickly we've moved and reacted to this change that we're seeing. So just before Christmas, we launched our first experiment where again, we went to our existing customers, we took some of their jobs and we're like, what is going to be different about the Indian job market? How can we learn from that perspective? We then kind of ran Q1.

Chad (27:29.075)

Mm -hmm.

Mark Chaffey (27:43.694)

and got to the point where we felt we had conviction. And it was a kind of a key moment where the flywheel started way quicker and we can talk to why that is. We like doubled our users in a month and we were like, okay, great. We're now at a point where we can take this and announce publicly that we're done. Exactly. So there's a couple of key things that works really nicely in India. Firstly, there's only four or five locations that you really need to launch. Locations are big. Locations are really big when we think about launching new markets. And there's really four or five cities you need to be.

Chad (27:58.483)

Density, right? Yeah

Mark Chaffey (28:13.998)

Secondly, there is a lot of talent in India, right? So actually whilst we're able to double users, we're now just under 50 ,000 users in India. You know, that's still a fraction of the overall market, but it's enough liquidity where we can start having an impact. And then thirdly, what's interesting is the recruitment and hiring culture is fundamentally different. It is a completely different market to hire in. And you speak to customers and the pains are very different to necessarily what they are in the UK or the US. But some of those pains speak to our value quite nicely.

Chad (28:33.651)

I bet.

Mark Chaffey (28:42.99)

and why we're able to get traction. So yeah, it was that kind of perfect storm that enabled us to do that. And now, again, we're going through the same process with a new location in Europe, where we're currently testing with existing customers to see, okay, does this market work well? What would be the differences and nuances? And if that does work well over the next three months, in three months we'll make another announcement about another lower cost location that we've launched HackaJob.

Joel Cheesman (29:04.379)

Yeah. So you're, you're moving fast and hopefully not breaking things. I know that DEI, I know that DEI is important to you guys and it's a focus for the business. When you're moving quickly like that, how do you sort of stay focused on that initiative? And I know particularly getting more females in technology has been a challenge for a lot of companies talk about DEI and how you guys approach that.

Chad (29:10.451)

Too much shit.

Mark Chaffey (29:30.094)

Yeah, and it's interesting because it's obviously a very hot topic in the US right now. You know, with what's happened with colleges and, you know, big debates online with pretty influential people. We're still steadfast and it's critical and like we absolutely want to have an opinion in this space. We wanted to do something with the product for a long time, but didn't know the right kind of the like ethical and moral approach we wanted to take. You know, there's lots of different ways you can tackle this.

The way we've gone about it is as part of that candidate onboarding journey, candidates can self -disclose, DNI characteristics. And whilst gender is important, we do capture across seven characteristics. So gender, ethnicity, neurodiversity, sexuality, veteran status, disability, and any reasonable adjustments in the interview process. And about 80 % of our users are self -disclosing, which is a massive, because there's a lot of products out there that are using inference.

Chad (30:14.355)

Mm -hmm.

Mark Chaffey (30:21.838)

So they're using algorithms to basically infer somebody's gender or infer somebody's race or whatever it may be. And to me, that's a recipe for disaster. That's a legal case waiting to happen. And then you speak to internal recruiters and candidly, a lot of them are using visual identification, right? Because they don't have the data and they're being so heavily targeted on this stuff. They'll do a phone interview or a Zoom interview of someone and just assume that person's gender or ethnicity. So once we've got this data, it's like, okay, well, what are we going to do with the data? And that's where it's like a product decision. And it was like...

Chad (30:39.603)

Mm -hmm.

Mark Chaffey (30:50.222)

We want to be able to have a positive impact, but we don't want to overstep our mark and kind of take this too far. And so the principle that we've gone with is the concept of balanced shortlisting, which has been a well -known concept for a long time. When you present a shortlist, try and have an equal representation at that level. And by the way, you have to consider the legals that are allowed to do it. The legals are slightly different between the UK and the US around what you're allowed to do and what you're not.

And so if a company says that, you know, we've got a gender diversity goal against this position and we understand that, we will then match talents that meet that goal. So in that case, maybe it's to get more women engineers into the shortlist and we'll match them based on complementary skills. So let's say we were able to show a list of 15 candidates that meet the requirements perfectly. And in that requirements list, there were 10 men and five women.

What we will then do is surface another five female candidates that maybe are a little bit more junior, a little bit more senior. They don't know Java, but they know Scala and they're both built in the JVM. So the learning is easier. Maybe they require a visa sponsorship, whatever it may be to try and get that, at least when you were reviewing your initial match list, there is a balance at that level. And then we can then track their performance through the funnel. So we can then see.

but do men engineers accept you at a high rate and female engineers, do they drop out the process at a high rate, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, and really use data to kind of infer or use data to kind of inform decisions later down the line. So that's kind of how we're thinking about this space.

Chad (32:25.491)

Yeah, I think it's important to start to, much like you guys are obviously pushing more of it being just a part of the DNA of a platform and to be able to understand the types of individuals that you're, you're engaging and are who are disengaging from you and then try trying to figure out what, why. Now I've got one last question for you before we wrap this up. So most CEOs 10 years down the road, they don't immerse themselves in the tactical conversations.

and actually have those on a daily basis. You took yourself into that role for a certain amount of time. I can't remember how long it was, but you were on calls on a daily basis, having that tactical engagement with clients and prospects. Tell me why you did that and how it actually worked for you.

Mark Chaffey (33:18.318)

Yeah, so one of my big lessons after we raised Series B last year was I got too far away from our customers. You know, there was probably a period of three to six months when there was a lot of change happening and I did not have my finger on the pulse anymore. And so probably September last year, I started mandating that I was doing five customer calls a week. And a big shout out to Pete, who was a CEO at employee, or is a CEO at employee.

He then took that one step further and he told me, he told his senior leadership team, they have to be on calls with five customers a week. And it has transformed the conversations we're able to have now with our top team. We literally in our notion, Wiki have a cool tracker that everybody's got to fill out every week at the exact team level around, you know, what customer did they speak to? What persona were they and what were the lessons? And then the first thing of our leadership team will be reviewing any key lessons. And the reason why this is so important to me is,

there is so much change happening both in the world of tech hiring and in the world of technology with LLMs. And the only way that we can make sure that we're reacting to that is by having our finger on the pulse. And there is a few cheat codes that a founder has. And one of them is the ability to move incredibly fast, Joe, and take incredibly fast decisions. And so when I heard like four customers in a week mention India, I was like, guys, we're launching an India experiment and you need to go and do it now. Right? And that's just something that only really like a founder CEO is allowed to do.

Chad (34:17.299)


Mark Chaffey (34:43.182)

Other people maybe have to go and get more approvals and sign -offs and et cetera. So I think in a world that is changing so quickly, I think it's crucial that I am as close as I can to the customers and prospects to understand how we respond to that change.

Joel Cheesman (34:58.715)

Mark Chaffee, everybody, CEO at HackaJob. Mark, for our listeners that want to connect with you, learn more about the company, where do you send them?

Chad (34:59.507)

There you have it.

Mark Chaffey (35:08.942)

Yeah, LinkedIn is definitely the best place for me. I'm a big, big actor from LinkedIn. I am on X or Twitter, whatever we're calling it these days, but I'm on those guys that just sits in the background and never really tweet. So you can follow me if you want, but you won't get much content. And then yeah,, spouts, all lowercase, H -A -C -K -A -J -O -B. The amount of different ways people try and spell HackaJob drives you slightly insane, but there we go. That's fine. So yeah, that's for the website and hit me up on LinkedIn if you want to connect.

Joel Cheesman (35:37.947)

Love it, love it. Chad, that's another one in the can. We out.


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