On today’s episode of SHRM Live, Hari Kolam and Liv Anderman discuss how Findem is a recruiting platform like no other. The technology it is based on is more than just a resume scanner; it can extract characteristics and attributes out of online information. This gives Findem a unique ability to appraise a person based on human traits as well as skillsets. The use case of Findem is to help recruit employees based on who they are at their core.

Highlights on the use case of WorkReels:

Hari Kolam:

Yeah, attributes are, I call them, units of intelligence in people. They are the characteristics that we desire in a person; the thing that we could never search for until now. Findem enables you to filter and look for people based on the truest sense of who they really are.

Liv Anderman:

The company was founded on this deep seated belief that people are more than their resumes. What you see of someone in a LinkedIn profile or GitHub is just a sliver of who someone is. We’re all made up of all of these attributes…both tangible attributes and intangible things. And that’s what’s so magical about the platform. Anything that you are looking for, that you can say about a person in conversation, we can find. As long as there’s some data-backed way of finding that attribute, you can search for it on our platform.

Tune in for the full conversation!

Listening time: 26 minutes

Links and other goodies

Thanks for tuning in to this special SHRM episode of The Use Case Podcast. SHRM Talent converges top talent from across the HR and Recruiting space. Luckily, William Tincup is lifting up the curtain to blessed you with some insight from these industry titans.

Hari Kolam has had a hands-on approach to the development of his platform. He knows Findem‘s technology better than anyone in the company, so when he discusses the strengths of this software you know it’s coming from the heart.

Likewise, if you’re digging the podcast then subscribe through your favorite platform!

Hariharan Kolam
Founder & CEO Findem

We at Findem believe that a great product and customer experience is inextricably linked to a great internal team and culture. Our team's culture fosters an environment that promotes curiosity, grit, heart, trust, and fun.

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Intro: (00:01)

Welcome to Recruiting Daily’s Use Case Podcast, live from SHRM talent. A show dedicated to the story that happens or should happen when practitioners purchase technology. We’re pulling back the curtain and asking the hard questions. It’s what we do. It’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.

William Tincup: (00:28)

Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you are listening to the Use Case Podcast. Today we have Hari and Liv on from Findem. We’ll be learning about the business case for why their prospects and customers use Findem. So why don’t we do introductions first. Hari, please introduce yourself and I’ll get Liv to introduce herself and then Findem.

Hari Kolam: (00:49)

Perfect. Thank you for the opportunity. I’m Hari. I’m one of the founders and CEO of Findem. Findem is a Redwood City-based startup, about three year old, [inaudible 00:01:03] employee, and we’ve been scaling the company during the whole pandemic era. So it’s a remote-first company. My background predominantly has been in building large scale data and infrastructure platform. Pretty much most of my life before this, I was a founder, CTO of a company called instar where we built a large scale TDN. And before that, super early at a startup called Asset Data where we built data warehousing. Pretty much applying all the expertise that I’ve learned throughout my tenure infrastructure engineer into solving the learned people search problem. It’s something what Findem’s all about.

William Tincup: (01:42)

I love it. And Liv, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Liv: (01:47)

I’m Liv. I’m the VP of marketing at Findem. I’ve been at the company about a year and seven months now. And before that I was a different company in the tech space, and I started my career as a lawyer and attorney in the UK. So pretty different.

William Tincup: (02:00)


Liv: (02:01)

Yeah, that’s right.

William Tincup: (02:01)

Nice. Wow. That’s awesome. Very, very good. Very, very, very good. All right. So let’s just start with some basics. I hate categories of software. I hate boxes. But we need to go ahead and think about the HR budget, the talent acquisition budget. They’re going to have this in Excel, and it’ll be a line, a row, and column, and all those things. Where do you find yourselves? Where do y’all find yourselves in categorization work? Where do they place you in terms of budget? And I’ll go with Liv first.

Liv: (02:33)

Yeah. We tap into the talent acquisition budget. So anything to do with sourcing, recruiting. We really play in that recruiting AI space. And also diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. So oftentimes companies will put a focus there and we’ll tap into that budget as well.

William Tincup: (02:49)

Very nice. Anything to add?

Hari Kolam: (02:51)

Yeah. I think Liv covered the primary areas in which we play. And think about Findem as an agency in a box. We actually deliver outcomes that actually are ingredients that recruiters can work off of, rather than a means to an outcome.

William Tincup: (03:08)

I love that. So in their current kind of work flow, where does Findem, where do you find yourself with recruiters and sourcers? Is it more with sourcers or is it more with recruiters?

Hari Kolam: (03:21)

So we are in the pre-applicant flow, I would call it. Which means we are in the business of increasing the qualified, diverse applications for companies. We consolidate the whole space.

William Tincup: (03:37)

That’s very nice. Anything to add?

Liv: (03:39)

No, I think that covers it. Talent leaders have an interest in the platform because as Hari said, it consolidates all those different workflows and point solutions and can help move the needle on diversity and hiring goals as a whole. And then recruiters, sourcers will use the platform to build searches, reach out to candidates, and so on.

William Tincup: (04:01)

And so when folks are listening to this, one of the things I want to make sure that they understand, that Findem can actually help them source very specific nuanced things. So give us a couple of examples of those.

Hari Kolam: (04:16)

Yeah, so a traditional sourcing, like what we’ve come to know about, has been predominantly about extracting information from a database of resumes. So it’s used keywords and Booleans to find information in the resume. Now Findem takes a different approach where it is a lot more closer to the intent or the real requirement. Take, for example, when it was a young startup, I hired people that have previously worked in a startup. We hire people that come from a diverse background, because we look for people that have built enterprise fast products before. Maybe have seen significant career scale. None of these attributes that are mentioned can be searched in a database of resumes, because every company is a startup. I can’t go to a database of resumes and search for startups. So the true intent is very far away from what we can search for. Findem is closer to what the hiring managers and the hiring team really want.

Liv: (05:13)

Some of my favorite searches are things like you’re looking for Presidents Club winning AEs who’ve been hired by multiple unicorn companies. Or software engineers who’ve got security experience and seen a company from series B to successful exit. Or chief revenue officers who have completed their vesting period. All these impossible searches that you wouldn’t be able to perform in other platforms, we can do.

William Tincup: (05:35)

I love this. I love it on so many levels, because you’re thinking about diversity in so many different ways. Both of the examples that you used, it’s not the typical gender, race, et cetera, which is all important. Don’t get me wrong. But just in the two examples you gave, they didn’t mention any of that stuff. They mentioned those experiences that people have, and that’s fantastic. I don’t know of another solution that actually touches on experiences like that.

Hari Kolam: (06:00)

Yeah, we call them attributes.

William Tincup: (06:01)


Hari Kolam: (06:02)

And people are made out of millions of attributes and may be beyond what they write about themselves.

William Tincup: (06:06)

Tell me more about attributes.

Hari Kolam: (06:09)

Yeah, attributes are, I call them, units of intelligence of people. The thing that we desire in people. The thing that we can never search for. So Findem enables you to filter and look for people based on the truest sense of who they really are.

William Tincup: (06:26)

I love that.

Liv: (06:29)

One thing that inspired me to join the company was that it was founded on this deep seated belief that people are more than their resumes. That what you see of someone in a LinkedIn profile or GitHub or any other data source is just a sliver of who someone is. And we’re all made up of all of these attributes, as Hari puts them, both tangible attributes and intangible things. And that’s what’s so magical about the platform. Anything that you are looking for, that you can say about a person in conversation, we can find. As long as there’s some data-backed way of finding that attribute, you can search for it in the platform.

William Tincup: (06:59)

I love that. So are we getting rid of the resume? Or would we, if we could, wave a wand and get rid of LinkedIn profiles?

Hari Kolam: (07:07)

So the way at least we articulate the problem, we isolate a browsing problem from a matching problem. A browsing problem is an advertisement for the candidate and everybody has the right to advertise themselves. Matching is purely about building pipelines, where you are looking for specific nuances of individual’s particular experiences. Eventually you’re going to go and browse their profile, but to get to them, the attributes are not going to be dependent on what they write about themselves. Because people write varying degrees of information. Some of them essentially are lot more verbal than others.

William Tincup: (07:40)

And some of them are just lying. So there’s that.

Liv: (07:43)

I have startup experience, but nowhere on my resume or any profile online do I specifically write that I have startup experience. Every company at some point in it’s evolution is a startup. I happen to have worked at companies at the early stage and startup phase of those companies.

William Tincup: (07:57)

So how does Findem extract that? Without the secret sauce of course, but how do we get to that information?

Hari Kolam: (08:04)

Yeah. So one of the fundamental approaches of Findem, which goes back into the background of the team, is we are heavy duty data and infrastructure engineers. The way we articulated the problem statement is as a BI problem. Now, as a business intelligence problem, you look for backing information to validate the requirement. So in case of a startup, for example, you ought to look at the timeline of the company and the tenure of the employee and cross correlate that objectively to see whether they really worked in a startup. Which means you ought to essentially have information about the financial history of the company. You ought to essentially know the entire life cycle of a company and the employing [inaudible 00:08:48] on top of it allows you to express it in a very, very simple way. Attributes underneath the hood are database queries running across multitude of data sets. And what that enables us to do is express the unexpressible, like Liv mentioned. Tangible and intangible attributes. Pretty much anything can be articulated as an attribute.

William Tincup: (09:05)

Right. Well, it’s funny because I was thinking about it’s the things that we state on our resumes and then there’s all this stuff that’s either implied or otherwise not stated. And I love that you can pull that stuff in. How do you train clients? Because this is new. Sourcing’s not new, check. Sourcing technology’s not new. Got it. But this is actually new. Findem’s new and this type of approach to finding attributes is new. So how do you take people through that?

Hari Kolam: (09:39)

So it’s change management, which means that people have been conditioned to doing it in a particular way.

William Tincup: (09:45)

Keyword search.

Hari Kolam: (09:46)

Exactly. Eventual way in which change happens is based on outcomes that are completely superior than what they were doing before. With Findem, the recruiters actually appear like heroes before the hiring managers, because they can actually, without overloaded, very complicated intake meetings and recruitment strategy meeting, they can express the unexpressible and build pipelines. They can keep the hiring manager honest, because the whole platform is data driven, which means if you’re looking for a unicorn, it’s going to say that you’re looking for a unicorn. Which means that feedback is instantaneous, allows them to actually have a very strategic collaboration with each other.

William Tincup: (10:23)

Oh yeah. You can almost do the intake together.

Hari Kolam: (10:25)


William Tincup: (10:25)

Literally right in front of the… Using Findem, you could actually do it right there in front of them.

Hari Kolam: (10:30)

Exactly right. And the other part, for talent leaders, they care about outcomes. If you think about the conventional manual way of sourcing. So it can only go at so much speed, because everybody’s looking at one profile at a time. The quality is only going to be so much, because the most traps are fairly basic, because of information on resume. And if you think about sourcing for diverse talent, you probably are going to be on the edge of compliance. You’re not going to essentially be wholly compliant. So there are basic problems around scale that Findem can actually solve, because it can have a multiplicative impact on the productivity of a recruiter. So there are various pitches, but the top down pitch essentially is mostly about the outcome. Bottom up pitch is mostly about better collaboration.

William Tincup: (11:16)

I love it.

Liv: (11:16)

And though Hari talks about change management, actually, once someone’s onboarded to the platform, it cuts out steps. You no longer have to translate between the hiring manager’s intent, keywords, and then multiple data sources. That’s all happening in real time. It’s a strategic conversation between the hiring manager and the recruiter. You’re no longer having to pull email addresses from different sources, reach out across multiple different platforms. It’s done in a consolidated way. And so I think that, yes, it’s always new for people to take on a different tool or solution or way of doing things. But ultimately it is about increasing efficiency. It is about scale. It is about productivity. And like Hari said, putting the talent team really at the heart of those strategic conversations for the business.

William Tincup: (11:59)

I love that. I love the way it’s collaboration software. We’re talking about it as sourcing, which is good as we need a category as an anchor part. But really it’s collaboration software between a hiring manager and a recruiter and sourcer, bringing all those folks together to see the world the same way. How do y’all kind of approach job descriptions, because they’re as deeply flawed as resumes and LinkedIn profiles. So it’s almost garbage in, garbage out.

Hari Kolam: (12:27)

Indeed. I think one of the basic reasons I even started Findem was the fact that the basic tools of people search, resume and job description, have not evolved for the last century. So they have remained status quo forever and both are highly interpretative, both are highly ambiguous, and both are highly disruptive in their own particular ways. So while we are disrupting the resume with a collection of attributes, job description in the final menus is also a collection of attributes that you desire. Again, there’s a marketable job description, which is a text that humans can read. There is a intent that usually match on. So isolating matching with browsing is a core theme that applies across the board.

William Tincup: (13:07)

Love it.

Liv: (13:07)

I think what’s interesting as well is in that intake meeting if you take the job description, the intent that comes across in the conversation, and the other factors that go into a search, the hiring manager can see the talent pool, can see the probabilistic diversity of that talent pool, the location of that talent, and in seeing that, then can decide maybe to alter the search, to tweak the search, to make certain attributes must have or nice to have or nice to have or must have. And that’s a way of ultimately trying to get to the right talent. So if you can see that what you’ve put in the job description is limiting, you can broaden what you’re looking for to get a broader pool that still delivers what you’re looking for.

William Tincup: (13:49)

I think it helps with expectation management. When they are describing a unicorn, either stated or implied, and all of a sudden there’s three of these people in the world. Do y’all currently now or do you see in the future compensation data also kind of woven into the product?

Hari Kolam: (14:07)

Yeah. That’s a roadmap item. That’s often asked for roadmap.

William Tincup: (14:12)

I’m asking for it right now.

Hari Kolam: (14:14)

I think it is something that’s part of the roadmap.

William Tincup: (14:16)

I can see it because right there, when you’re shrinking things down and all of a sudden it’s like, okay, not only are there three people, but this is a $280,000 job.

Hari Kolam: (14:24)


William Tincup: (14:25)

Right now you can kind of sync up on that. Let’s pivot over and talk a little bit more about Findem and that demo. So both of you, I want your takes on this, your favorite part of showing Findem to somebody that’s never seen Findem at all. So you’re new to Findem. All of a sudden you crack it open, show them something, what’s your favorite part?

Hari Kolam: (14:49)

Yeah. So, and this is the part that I get a high all the time and I also possibly get a high with my audience. I ask them their favorite person they want to clone. And open up their LinkedIn profile, take the link, put them into Findem, it automatically breaks down that individual collection of attributes and uses that to stack rank and find similar people that actually have similar attributes. And the first awe is okay, they’re exactly similar because they match attributes. They don’t match keywords. The second part is we actually flip over into a location view and show them the distribution of this talent across the whole geo. Where are they? Which pockets of places are they? That’s second awe inspiring because in the remote world, where they have the liberty to hire anywhere and everywhere, the fact that the non-head shoe location essentially hosts a lot of talent is an amazing thing. The third part that I usually show is overlay diversity on top and tell them if you were to want to be an inclusive search, what are the locations that you have to focus on for this search and for it to be an inclusive search? All the three things are very relevant in building teams of today. And I think we overlay all of these three things in one place. I think they’ve never seen such things before.

William Tincup: (16:08)

That’s correct.

Liv: (16:10)

Hari stole my top one, showing people in the platform as a collection of attributes always is an aha moment for people who are seeing the platform for the first time. But I’ll focus on another area that I always really like to show, which is the funnel analytics aspect of the platform. So if we go beyond the search, we can show not just for Findem, but for any sources of candidates, even referrals or across recruiters and individuals and teams, how candidates are flowing through the funnel at every stage, and also the diversity breakdown of candidates at each stage. So you can see what’s working and what’s not working.

William Tincup: (16:44)

Per position. Yeah.

Liv: (16:46)

Exactly. I think that kind of analytic insight is also really sought after by talent leaders who want to ensure that the talent process as a whole is as strategic as possible and that it’s continuing to improve.

William Tincup: (16:59)

You can also see the break points of maybe it’s a particular hiring manager. So now that era of transparency, now you can kind of see that. I love that.

Hari Kolam: (17:08)

The other interesting part is when you think about drop off, say from phone screen to your first interview, you see a particular aspect of talent pool dropping off. It’s a signal on the overall interview process, which I think they lack today, the hiring teams, which is fascinating. Because when you extract that out and point them out, it’s a causal analysis.

William Tincup: (17:32)

What’s interesting is as we talk about this, ecommerce people have been doing this for years is cart abandonment. It’s new to us, because we’re a little slow, but I absolutely love that. Do you have an aha moment for the practitioner where you could just see in their eyes, okay, they get it. Is there a point in the demo where they just kind of like, okay, I need this. How fast can we get started?

Hari Kolam: (17:58)

So it is usually about an impossible search. When we do it for the recruiter, we do three things. We talk about the pains of an intake meeting, because every one of the recruiters essentially go through that. And in many cases it is for lack of data. So we actually have made a report super easily accessible on the platform that actually gives you the whole talent dynamics for the pool that they created as a downloadable PDF. They like it, because the communication piece, the job is hard, because finding people is not easy. But reconciling and ensuring that you’re on the same path and not wasting your time on a completely different path, it hits the right note.

William Tincup: (18:36)

I love it. Good stuff. Success stories. So I usually get into success stories around the intended use and in some of the ways that clients use or customers use the software and you’re like, that’s cool. Now we’re going to tell all of our other customers about that, because you just did something that we didn’t really think about before. Do you have some success stories that you like?

Hari Kolam: (19:00)

I think one of our customers, which I think came out as a…

William Tincup: (19:04)

You don’t have to mention brand names or anything.

Hari Kolam: (19:06)

… Which came out as part of a press release, had a very interesting take, because they’re one of the early adopters. I’d define them a massive recruiting team. They came out with a couple of recruiters on the platform, and the use case was diversity sourcing. And the reason for that was they were compensated on diversity metrics. But the caveat was, they did not want to source diversity because I think there is a compliance fee. They actually came out with a very interesting mode of, it became important feature in the platform, where we make the funnel diverse without the recruiter needing to source candidates, which means the attribute that’s needed is auto added of people matching the search without any fingerprints with any of the recruiters. And what happened after we implemented that is the recruiters that were part of the pilot made their numbers, which means they made their comp, which forced us the expansion toward the whole op.

William Tincup: (20:00)

Oh, I love that. That’s fantastic. Liv, do you got anything?

Liv: (20:05)

Yeah, a couple of examples come to mind and we’ve had multiple customers that have increased the speed and efficiency of the recruiting process by 80% is a common statistic. And so that’s just wonderful to see, because so often recruiters don’t have the time to talk to and close candidates. And so if we can give them that time back, it feels amazing to do that.

William Tincup: (20:26)

And candidates are moving fast.

Liv: (20:28)

Right, and top quality candidates as well. So that’s something that I’m always pleased to see we impact is the quality and diversity of the pipeline. One customer increased their pipeline diversity by 10x, which is phenomenal. And we’ve had various other impacts as well, including helping one team show the ROI of their own team to the leadership, because the dashboards and analytic insights that the platform delivers, enabled them to do that.

William Tincup: (20:58)

That justifies the cost right there. That’s awesome, y’all. That’s great. Last thing is I want get some buying questions, because again, we’re trying to educate practitioners on how to buy things like Findem. So how would you like practitioners to interact with you and ask you questions? What questions would you love for them to ask?

Hari Kolam: (21:25)

Right now, everybody’s on a hair on a fast situation, which means they need to build a pipeline and hope that they convert very, very fast. One of the things that particularly part of the mission of Findem as well is to make the talent team more strategic, which means when you’re building a team today, they are going to be the company tomorrow. Because they’re going to essentially be selling, they’re going to be building products, they’re going to be doing amazing, interesting things. And you ought to be very, very thoughtful about how you essentially define what your ideal requirements is. If you think about the product, there’s something called a magic quadrant that actually tells you how does my product compare with my competitor? It essentially looks at market share and how does my company compare with others? People compare them and how can I essentially be better than my competitor in terms of talent? The strategy question that I think has to come forefront rather than just plugging the skill gap that has been left behind. So for me, the talent team that is strategic essentially is forward leaning, which means it is building the right arc of tomorrow, which I think is heavily competitive. And then utilizing, hopefully Findem, who finds such people.

William Tincup: (22:32)

Opposite question just real quick and Liv, I want to get your take as well. When someone obviously doesn’t get it. You know you’re going to be pushing a boulder up the hill and you just know, what is that? I know you faced it at some points. So what is that for you? Start asking you a bunch of ROI questions or things like that?

Hari Kolam: (22:54)

So ROI generally is completely laughable. I don’t go into that. The ideal part about understanding if somebody’s talking to Findem, which means they have some pain. What pain do they have is exactly where the discovery needs to go into. In the modern era, everything is a pain, because it’s the hardest it’s ever been. So going into the pain from exactly looking at where we can actually help and that being the starting point is exactly how we [inaudible 00:23:21]. The strategic piece that I think makes me fulfilled as an entrepreneur, there’s a practical piece that I think is going to be the problem solving exercise. It’s usually somewhere in the middle.

William Tincup: (23:30)

Yeah, yeah. Liv?

Liv: (23:33)

In terms of what people can ask, because I always like it when people share with us their wishlist of attributes, because it’s fun when we can deliver on a list of candidates that meet a set of criteria they didn’t think they could search for. But other questions are around, how can we consolidate and make more efficient what we’re doing today? So we are using these different tools, data is flowing into these different systems, and the workflows aren’t connected. How can we look at this talent acquisition process end to end and identify the areas that are most ready to be improved in terms of efficiency and productivity? So I like those questions, because that’s where we can really understand their pain points and where we can help.

William Tincup: (24:15)

Oh, I love it. Y’all, I absolutely love what you’re doing. Love, love, love what you’re doing, and thank you for carving out time and coming on to show.

Liv: (24:22)

Thank you.

Hari Kolam: (24:22)

Thank you.

William Tincup: (24:23)

Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the Use Case Podcast. Until next time.

Speaker 5: (24:28)

You’ve been listening to Recruiting Daily’s Use Case Podcast. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform and hit us up recruitingdaily.com.

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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