Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 265. Today we’ll be talking to Keith from SmartRank about the use case or business case for why his customers choose SmartRank.
SmartRank automatically stack-ranks and filters applicants, so you can instantly and objectively identify the best-matched talent without looking at resumes.
Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think. Thanks, William.
Show length: 33 minutes
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Welcome to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case podcast. A show dedicated to the storytelling that happens or should happen when practitioners purchase technology.
Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better, as we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment in HR tech. That’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William Tincup (00:24):
Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you’re listening to the Use Case podcast. Today we have Keith on from SmartRank.
We’ll be learning about the business case or the use case that his prospects, customers use to purchase SmartRank. Let’s just jump right into it. Keith, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and SmartRank?
Keith Hulen (00:45):
Yeah, I’d be happy to. My name’s Keith Hulen. I’m the CEO and co-founder of SmartRank. We started SmartRank about two and a half years ago with the idea of providing some real unique solutions in the talent acquisition industry. Specifically, what our solution does is it stack ranks and filters job applicants without touching a resume at all.
We don’t need resume in any way, shape, or form. We’ll go ahead and provide a stack rank, which provides an enormous amount of time savings. It also helps with a lot of other different problems like DE&I hiring, manager engagement, a lot of reporting and analytics, compliance and legal, and a number of other areas as well.
William Tincup (01:31):
Let’s start with the origin story. You could have started anything. Why did you decide to start SmartRank?
Keith Hulen (01:39):
Well, I’ve been a hiring manager for over 20 years, and I would say that certainly as a leader at every organization I was at, regardless of size or industry, hiring was my least favorite thing to do.
William Tincup (01:54):
Keith Hulen (01:55):
I knew that something had to be broken there. I knew what my frustrations were from a hiring manager side, but I really wanted to explore what they were from the recruiting side, from the talent acquisition side. Two and a half years ago, I sat out on a mission to just learn. I wanted to understand, so I set up hundreds of meetings with talent acquisition leaders and professionals, and really just asked them what are their biggest problems? I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about what we were going to build. I just asked them, “What are your biggest problems?”
I started to hear some consistency in the answers coming back. Then we started to dive in a little deeper to understand, well, what are the root causes of those consistent problems we kept hearing? There was a couple that continued to surface, the resume was one of those. A lot of the applicant tracking systems that were currently being used was another one. Yeah. We just found some common areas and we just started building solutions to address those very specific problems that they had.
William Tincup (03:00):
Let’s start with resumes first. How resumes come in or we go get them somehow, whatever mechanism and we do, we stack rank them. We’ll explain that to the audience. How do you do that without a resume?
Keith Hulen (03:17):
Yeah. That’s usually the first question that everybody always asks us.
William Tincup (03:22):
It’s my first question.
Keith Hulen (03:24):
Well, because it should be, because this is what we’ve used for certainly, easily over the last 70 years, that this has been the tool that we use to screen talent. Some would argue that it’s even older than that, but the point being is that everybody relies on this document. The way that we do it, is we essentially go right to the source of where the screening needs to come from. Let me back up for just a quick sec. You’ve got in every opportunity, every requisition that’s out there, you’ve got a job description. These job descriptions are vague at best.
They have all the same language experience with, knowledge of, familiarity with. Those things don’t mean anything, by the way. Specifically, they don’t mean anything between the hiring manager and the recruiter most of the time. A lot of times, they don’t mean anything to the applicants either, right? They’re going to interpret whatever they think that those phrases mean. There’s an enormous amount of information that is missing in this process. We go straight to the source, which is the hiring manager.
We just simply ask them, “What specifically do you want to know about every single applicant that applies?” Then we’ll create questions, we’ll create answer options. Those answer options are scored, and then our algorithm will go in and help create that stack ranking. Then because we have the scores, we can also filter those applicants, so that the recruiters and the hiring managers are really spending all of their time around the top 5% of the applicants that are actually going to get an interview, rather than the 95% that are never going to get an interview. We kind of flip that.
One of the things we like to say is a resume is everything that an applicant wants you to know about them. We flip that paradigm by saying, “No, what would you like to know about every single applicant?” That’s the information we get. What’s great about that, is that not only is it a massive, massive time saver, but the other big thing is that it removes this dysfunction that often exists between talent acquisition and the hiring manager side. I know that one of the reasons for that is that ambiguity around what they’re specifically looking for, causes a lot of problems.
Most recruiters are not subject matter experts at every single job they’re hiring for. Most of them have never done the job that they’re hiring for. But yet there’s these expectations that they will all of a sudden be a subject matter expert, because we say something like proficiency in Excel. But again, what does proficiency in Excel actually mean? Does that mean that you know how to put numbers in cells and do that whole something? Or does that mean that you know how to do power pivot tables, and concatenate, and do LOOKUPs and all the conditional formatting, and all those other things. By just getting down to exactly what they’re looking for, we remove a lot of challenges.
William Tincup (06:44):
Let’s go down this rabbit hole just a little bit more. Because for the audience sake and for my edification, what the hiring man really wants to know, do you find that the hiring manager is or historically has been in years of experience, must have a bachelor’s degree? That type of framework of things that basically knock people out, not necessarily filter people in. The way I think you frame this up, is you’re getting to knowledge, skills, experience knowledge, maybe some potentiality, et cetera.
It’s like tangible things that the hiring manager wants. If true, if I’ve got that right, how do you get them out of the habit of falling back on those old, I don’t know, those old crutches that we would use? Especially, I’m thinking about degrees in particular. Years ago, I used to hire graphic designers and a lot of web developers. Degrees, asking for degrees back then especially, asking for degrees is like that’s a nonstarter. Why would I even ask for? I don’t even care about their degree. Now, their portfolio, that’s absolutely 100%.
But let’s separate or I want you to explain to the audience around when you’re talking to hiring managers and you’re doing the archeology, anthropology around what do you want to know, what does that take form as?
Keith Hulen (08:27):
Yeah. It’s interesting because in all of our discussions, here’s what I hear because I talk to both sides of the fence. What you hear a lot of times from the talent acquisition side, is hiring managers don’t know what they’re looking for. Then when you talk to the hiring manager side, it’s funny because they say the exact same thing.
The talent acquisition team has no idea what I’m looking for, and they just keep sending over these resumes for me to review and it’s just a waste of my time. I found that really interesting that both sides are saying the same thing.
William Tincup (09:00):
Keith Hulen (09:01):
Again, it’s because of that lack of specificity and you mentioned skills and knowledge, for sure. Qualifications is really the word that I use to talk to our clients about. I would say that a lot, most of the hiring managers, they know what they want. But the process has just never been in place where we asked them that second, third, fourth, fifth level of question. Why would you, right? Think about it.
If you’re a hiring manager, even if you gave your recruiter that’s hiring for your role. Let’s say you’re hiring for a software development role. Somebody that’s been in software development for 20 years is talking with a recruiter. If they were to tell them every single, little detail and say, “I want you to ask the applicants this set of questions.” Even if they do that, how is the recruiter going to process the answers coming back, right?
William Tincup (09:59):
Keith Hulen (10:00):
If you said something like, “What is your level of proficiency with Ruby on Rails?” And the person starts spouting off all these things that they can do, what does that mean to the recruiter? Does that mean, “Great, you know how to do this or you’re definitely not what we’re looking for”? On top of that, even if they knew how to process the answers, they’re not going to do that with 100% of applicants. They don’t have enough time to do that. That’s the part that we’re automating.
To get hiring managers over… I will tell you, because I talk to hiring managers every week. In fact, I just had a conversation with a brand-new hiring manager yesterday. A lot of them, they get it right off the bat and they love it. Why? Because they know that there’s nothing getting lost in translation. They’re going to get exactly what they’re looking for in those qualifications. You brought up an example about education. I find this so interesting because this is just consistent.
I’ve looked at thousands of job descriptions at this point. It’s so funny because you’ll see something that says looking for, required. And it’ll say, “Bachelor’s degree in computer science or computer information system, or other relevant experience.” You’re like, “You just negated everything that you put before that when you do that.” Nothing means anything now, because you just left that completely up for interpretation.
William Tincup (11:33):
Keith Hulen (11:34):
Then what I also find when talking to these hiring managers, is they haven’t even looked at the job description. They look at it and like, “Oh man, that’s not even close to being accurate. Or I don’t know who wrote that, it wasn’t me, but that’s just totally wrong.” Here’s what they need to have. Then we get into the real meat and potatoes, which is the important part.
But not only are we getting into the meat and potatoes, it’s being captured, it’s being documented in SmartRank, in the form of questions and answers. Then what we’re able to do for the first time now, is we can actually look at the criteria when the applicants start coming in, and we have data now to start moving a path forward. Let me explain what I mean by that.
William Tincup (12:16):
Keith Hulen (12:17):
I’m so used to, as a hiring manager, having what I call this revolving door conversation. I look at the job description, I give you my what do you need to have, what are the nice to have, what are your knockouts? I give that information, they go off, they send me resumes. I’m like, “Nope, still not what I’m looking for. Okay. Fine, just schedule this person for an interview.”
Then we come back to the table because we haven’t been able to hire anybody, and we have the same conversation. What do you need to have? Let’s reevaluate again. What do you need to have? What are your nice to have? No, no, no. That doesn’t happen with our clients. What happens is a much more deeper conversation. Let’s say that there’s a hiring manager that has very high expectations. Their criteria is ridiculous.
William Tincup (12:58):
Keith Hulen (12:59):
You get 100 applicants, you have a literal score for every one of those applicants. Now the recruiter can go back and say, “Look, I’m not an expert in this space. You are.” All I’m telling you is the data. You had 100 people apply. Of those, the highest score that anybody scored on your criteria was a 21%. Now, we have a couple options. We can hire 21 percenters if that’s what you’d like. There’s nothing wrong if that’s what you want to do, but you need to go into it knowing you’re hiring somebody that has 21% of the qualifications you’re looking for.
Or we can reduce the strictness of this criteria. Let’s pull back a little bit. Do you really need this? Well, no, I guess maybe I don’t so there’s that piece. The last thing I’ll mention about this, William, is just once you start actually diving into what this stuff means, in fact, I got this comment yesterday with a hiring manager. He’s like, “This is actually a great exercise. This is actually getting me to really think about what exactly does this mean?” Yeah. That’s exactly what should be happening.
That is exactly what should be happening. He’s like, “This is a really good exercise to really flush out, so I know exactly what I’m looking for.” You got to think about that. If the hiring manager doesn’t know exactly what they’re looking for, how on earth is somebody in talent acquisition expected to be able to do that? When we dive into this job description, and really dissect it and unpack it, what you really start to see is a lot of information. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been on a call with a hiring manager that says, “Three to five years of experience. Fill in the gap with X, Y, and Z.”
One of the first questions is, “Does this mean that anybody that has two and a half years you absolutely do not want to meet with?” They go, “No.”
William Tincup (14:55):
Two years and 300 days.
Keith Hulen (14:57):
Right, exactly. They say, “No, I would totally meet with somebody.” I say, “But you understand how this is confusing for an applicant because it says required qualifications.”
William Tincup (15:08):
Keith Hulen (15:08):
The next bullet underneath it says three to five years of experience doing whatever. You’re going to lose applicants. More importantly, and not to get off on a big tangent here, you’re going to lose female applicants because they’re going to look at that and they’re going to go, “I don’t have three years. I have two and a half years.” They could be your best qualified person, but you’re going to miss them. They’re not even going to apply because statistically, females need to have 100% of the qualifications.
You’re missing out on good applicants. You have people that aren’t even applying. People nowadays, are talking about low volume. We don’t have enough people coming in. Well, when you put things like that and that’s not actually what you really need. When we create the questions, we can have knockouts for these qualifications. We could have zero points for these answers. We could have four points. What’s great about that is we no longer have to have this binary, is this a knockout or not?
You just get less points. But the more questions you answer with the right answer, the higher up on the stack rank you’re going to be. That makes sense because you’re a more qualified person for what we’re looking for.
William Tincup (16:22):
One of the things I loved about Newton Software, which is an ATS years ago that Paycor bought, is they built it around hiring managers. They built an ATS experience, but instead of it for sourcers, and for recruitment marketers and recruiters, they built it for hiring managers and the hiring manager experience, which was fascinating, especially at the time. There was nothing on the market that was that way.
Steve and Joel both come from recruiting, come from staffing, et cetera. They really wanted to fix the hiring manager ATS problem. It’s bringing me back to what I loved about what they built with Newton. The two questions I know the audience is going to ask because one is on the ranking side, is that more or less real time? If you could drill down a little bit on the filtering, what we can and can’t filter for, et cetera.
Keith Hulen (17:24):
Sure. Yeah. As far as the real time, the moment that an applicant hits submit on their application, we’ve got a score. Actually, let me back up. The moment that they’re done with the section of questions, which is the first section that they start in the application process. Our solution, we like to call ourselves a productivity tool, but we have all of the things that you would need that a typical ATS has. I just don’t like to call us an ATS because frankly, I don’t like to be lumped in that group.
But we have interviewing, and offer letters and all that. As a part of that, we have a full applicant experience. The first section of that applicant experience, is where they come in and answer those questions. When they’re done with that first section, we have a score for that person. If I could show you this, it would make even more sense, which we obviously can’t do on this call. But what’s great about that, is that it provides so much value. Think about incomplete, let’s use that one as an example.
This is this black box. You have all these incomplete applicants, let’s say you have 100. In our system, our clients sort by the scores that they’ve already gotten. You sort and you’re like, “Okay. These 35 people would be knocked out, if they went ahead and continued.” We already know they’re knocked out. If they continued and actually hit submit, then we know we’re just going to disposition them immediately, because they’ve been knocked out. We can do that very quickly.
On the flip side of that, if you sort it the other way, you’re going to find, “Oh my gosh, my second ranked person out of 163 applicants, is currently sitting in my incomplete. They just didn’t hit submit on their application.” I don’t know, maybe the kid was screaming in the background or whatever, but I’m highly motivated now for that person to go ahead and complete their application. The scoring is a critical piece about that. I’m leading into the filtering because that’s what we do as far as filtering.
We can filter into, I would say, there’s a majority. We have incomplete, which is filtering. We have knocked out, which is a filter, but not knocked out just for your traditional, are you eligible to work in the United States? You require a visa.
William Tincup (19:48):
Keith Hulen (19:48):
That’s how a lot of systems will knock people out. We’re knocking people out for very specific qualifications that they either have or don’t have most likely. We’re also stack filtering for top-ranked applicants. These are your top people right here, up in this top left of your dashboard. These are the people you need to get to you immediately, because as we all know, good talent goes fast. If you don’t get to them fast, somebody else will. I would use an example. On a typical ATS, if you had 100 people apply, you’re going to have a list of 100 applicants chronologically, so you got to go through each one.
If your best applicant happen to apply 99th, there’s a good chance you won’t even get to them. Even if you did, it’s probably too late. They’ve probably already gotten picked up by somebody else. In our system, if somebody chronologically happened to apply 99th out of 100th, but they were number two ranked, they’re going to pop right up into that filter and say with big arms waving, “Hey, check me out. I am your second ranked person for this role.” Then you can start moving really, really fast on them. Those filters are important. One last thing I’ll mention about the filtering.
Most ATSs, if you come in as a recruiter, you open up your list of requisitions. Let’s say you have 20 of them. We manage applicants differently, because filtering the applicants by the stage rather than just the requisition. In our system you can still click a requisition, here’s all your applicants. But our filtering mechanism saves them so much time, because when you look at the top new applicants, you’re looking at across all of your requisitions that you’re currently managing. I can now take these bigger, bulk actions on people, which allows for me to save an enormous amount of time.
Let’s say I’m hiring for a SQL developer, a full stack developer, a technical recruiter, and an account executive. All of the top-ranked folks for any of those roles, are going to be in that top-ranked filter. Now I can just quickly hit two buttons, select all of these and send them off to the hiring manager to get their thumbs up or thumbs down so we can move forward. That also works on the knocked out. If you’re managing 20 requisitions, every applicant that’s knocked out for qualification reasons, goes in there. Then you’re not having to go through any of those. You already know they’re knocked out.
You select all with the bulk action, and just disposition them all. You’re dispositioning 50 applicants across 27 different requisitions with 16 different hiring managers. There is an enormous amount of time savings done that way.
William Tincup (22:49):
There’s so many different things that I love. Your customers and prospects, because you’re talking to a ton of people.
Let’s say they have difficulty retaining or even recruiting people of color. Are they asking, “Can we sort for gender or race, or any of those types of things?” Are they asking about that yet?
Keith Hulen (23:15):
Well, I’m glad you brought that up. D&I from the very beginning, has been one of the biggest focuses that we’ve had in our company. Let me just if I can, go off on a little bit of a tangent about D&I. I will come back to your original question. From a D&I perspective, we believe very strongly that especially in our society today, that the only thing that should matter is the qualifications. Can they do the job that we’re going to ask them to do? And nothing else should matter.
But as we all know, unconscious bias is just a thing. It’s there, it’s always going to be there. I don’t care how many years you’ve been in talent acquisition or a hiring manager, or how many trainings you’ve been in, or how much awareness you’ve been shoved down your throat, it is there. By removing the resume in a way from the screening process, if that’s what they choose to do, we basically are removing the single largest source of unconscious bias.
Now, along with that, we also mask applicants. It’s a setting, you can turn it on or off. You mask them, doesn’t show their name, doesn’t show their LinkedIn profile, their resume, their contact information, what college they went to, or rather what college they didn’t go to, what year they graduated. All of that information is masked until you schedule an interview. Number two, from an equity standpoint, 100% of applicants that apply for a requisition through SmartRank, get the most fair and equitable screening that they can get, 100%.
Because it’s the same set of standardized questions and answers so every single person gets a fair shot. That is not the case today. We all know that is not the case. There is an enormous amount of subjectivity that factors into that, so that doesn’t happen today. Then to go back to your original question again, this is another setting, but yes. Companies that are really on the forefront of DE&I, and really wanting to make meaningful and actionable progress, not only can they mask the applicants.
Not only are they getting 100% equitable opportunity to every single one of them because we’re removing the subjectivity, but we also have the ability to sort or filter, I should say, by certain demographics. Not only are you now looking at your top-ranked applicants, you may say, “I’d like to look at my top-ranked female and African American applicants.” Now, you’re going to have a list of all of those.
William Tincup (25:53):
Let’s move to two things that are by side. One is your favorite part of the demo when you show people SmartRank for the first time, and really it’s that aha moment.
You just know once I get on, it might take me 15 minutes, but once I get them to here, their heads are going to explode. What’s that moment?
Keith Hulen (26:15):
It’s when they see the stack rank, because every ATS out there that I know of for the most part, it’s going to be just a list of chronological or applicants in chronological order. You are forced to go through one by one, by one, by one. It’s extremely time-consuming and it’s the most inefficient way I can think of. It’s not effective because like we said, just because somebody puts proficiency in Excel on their resume, what does that mean? Unless you can read their minds and even with all the AI tools that are out there, they can screen faster going through resumes, but they can’t do that anymore effectively.
What I mean by that is they still can’t tell you what that person meant when they wrote, “I’m highly proficient in Excel.” The AI still, hopefully it doesn’t get there, where they can mind read. They still can’t tell you what that person meant when they wrote that. That’s the aha moment. But I’d say there’s probably three or four others that just depending on the solution or the problems that they’re having that are aha moments. When we mine our database and I show them other potential matches, sometimes that just gets people really excited.
William Tincup (27:30):
Explain just real quickly that you can mine their own ATS. If they have ATS data, you can go back and mine that?
Keith Hulen (27:38):
We can’t. No, we can’t because there’s no data there.
William Tincup (27:41):
Keith Hulen (27:42):
When they join on with us, and I ask people all the time, they’re like, “Our applicant flow is really slow right now.” I’m like, “Well, how many people do you have in your ATS?”
They’re like, “30,000.” I’m like, “Why don’t you just go back and look at those?” Every time I ask it, I get a smile. I can see them smirk and they’re like, “You’re kidding, right? There’s no way we’re going to go back.”
William Tincup (28:00):
We’ve already said no to those people.
Keith Hulen (28:02):
Exactly. I’ve already looked through all those resumes and I’m not going to go back and relook at resumes. The way our system works is we have hundreds of thousands of data points because we have specific answers to highly specific questions. What we do is we can then cross-reference that data to what you’re looking for, for a very particular role. We can say, “Oh, this question with this answer is what you’re looking for. This would be the max points.”
By clicking one button, we look at every answer, to every question that every applicant has submitted for every application. Then we match that against what you’re looking for for a role. It’s a really, really fun, slick way to say, “This person is an estimated 92% match for this role.” You’re like, “Ah.” Then you just hit a button and it automatically recommends them to apply for that role.
William Tincup (28:53):
I love it. Okay. Last question is if you could wave a magic wand and have your prospects ask you one question, what would it be?
Keith Hulen (29:07):
That’s a bit of a loaded question, William.
William Tincup (29:09):
Keith Hulen (29:10):
How much does it cost? I don’t know.
William Tincup (29:13):
How fast can you stand it up?
Keith Hulen (29:15):
William Tincup (29:17):
But it’s one of the things with this particular podcast, is I’m trying to teach and get vendors to actually teach by practitioners how to buy. It’s actually really important from a mission perspective.
You do demos on your team, you do a ton of demos, you understand how this works. But sometimes they’ll ask great questions, and sometimes the questions are just not as great as you’d like for them to be. Okay, fair. Stated and covered. What would you like for them to ask you?
Keith Hulen (29:55):
That’s a good question. I would probably want them to ask me why more people aren’t using it.
William Tincup (30:05):
Keith Hulen (30:06):
Our concept is it’s a newer concept. No, here’s another one. I would want them to ask me, “Do you feel like this data actually works? The concept sounds great and make sense on paper. Can you actually show me where this works?” Because to be honest with you, that is my favorite part, is when I talk to our clients and they’re like, “This is a true game changer. This isn’t like a little bit of a process increase. This is a game changer.”
Then they show me one of their requisitions and it clearly outlines their top applicants. I’m like, “Great.” Then we look at the percentage of people that are hired. We know that over 80% of the people hired through SmartRank, are ranked in the top 10. That tells me that we’re on the right track. That’s just preliminary data. This is still early data for us.
William Tincup (31:03):
Well, to the point of why aren’t more people using this? You answered it on the new side, but it’s also because y’all been down in the basement, building the technology and the science, et cetera. You’re not out there on the conference scene and doing all this other stuff. One of which is that you’re always going to be asked price, let’s say eventually going to come down to that.
It’ll come up in conversation. But I do believe the stand it up question gets asked and it’s a good question, especially with all the bad experiences of implementations of yesteryear. I like the fact that if they get around to asking you, “Hey, I like this, or I love this, show me where it’s worked.” Okay. Actually, that’s just a wonderful question to ask.
Keith Hulen (31:48):
Yeah. Prove it, right?
William Tincup (31:52):
Yeah, prove it.
Keith Hulen (31:54):
I’ve been looking at technologies right now for our sales stack, and I’ve asked multiple companies to put me on with one of their clients. They have tons of clients, and I’m like, “Just set me up with one. I just have a few questions for them.”
None of them have set me up. I had a client the other day that told me, “I’m going to want to chat with one of yours.” I said, “I’ll set it up tomorrow.”
William Tincup (32:13):
Yeah. Who do you want to talk to?
Keith Hulen (32:15):
I’ll give you my whole list of every client I have. You tell me which one you want to talk to and I’ll set it up.
William Tincup (32:19):
See, I love that because you’re playing off of this cynicism that’s there in a 50-year-old software category. Everyone’s had a not so great experience. Especially if they’ve done this for a while, they’ve seen tech come, go, come, go, this, that, and the other. So I love it. It’s like, “Hey, listen, at the end of the call, you’re going to say prove it.”
You know what? We can go ahead and get there quickly. I’m going to give you a list of contacts and you can contact anybody you want. I love that. Keith, I just appreciate your time and wisdom. I love what you’ve built at SmartRank.
Keith Hulen (32:58):
Thanks, William. I really appreciate your time as well.
William Tincup (33:01):
Absolutely. Everyone, thanks for listening to the Use Case podcast. Until next time.
You’ve been listening to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case podcast. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform and hit us up at recruitingdaily.com.
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.