Candidate sourcing platform SeekOut, while a boon to any U.S. or Canadian recruiter in any industry, is especially advantageous for those hiring for technology positions. A fast, organized AI-driven aggregation of online communities and social places where both active and passive candidates profile themselves, SeekOut’s primary appeal might well be in its robust help diversifying your workforce.  Its reach is massive: 105 million candidate profiles; 13 million GitHub profiles; and a search and sort of 37 social and professional networks.  We have been inside SeekOut before with some RecruitingTools inside looks.  More recently we had an interview with the founder.

SeekOut co-founder and CEO Anoop Gupta, whose impressive background includes Stanford associate professorship and Microsoft Research Distinguished Scientist, showed us around the platform.

“SeekOut’s candidate sourcing and engagement is focused on passive candidates and people happy in their jobs,” Gupta told RecruitingDaily. “While it supports all roles, it’s primarily focused on diversity and on developers and the tech industry.”

Essentially, SeekOut is a search engine with a wide variety of controls and filters, as well as candidate recommendations enabled by artificial intelligence. To these are added outreach tools that include candidate email and social contacts. Its rich database enables direct email campaigns with customized and automated scheduling of personalized, engaging messages.

In sourcing passive technology candidates, the SeekOut folks have translated their deep understanding of online tech community GitHub into a revealing and detailed look at relevant passive candidates. This is GitHub on steroids, a highly efficient one-stop-shop that translates this tech community’s cumbersome and time-consuming bit-by-bit search of members’ skills, education, accomplishments and online engagement into a fast one-page display.

“On GitHub, it’s very hard for recruiters to source and search because it was designed as a collaboration rather than sourcing platform,” Gupta said.

Just tell SeekOut what you’re looking for – the skills, experience, location, diversity parameters, and so forth – and it will deliver a very detailed profile of qualified candidates within seconds.

Diversity & Inclusion capability

If you don’t want to surmise race or ethnicity by way of picture or name, its blind hiring radio button removes the photo and converts the name to mere initials. It even alters the email address to further disguise the candidate’s name.

It’s a good bias resolution, though not a perfect one. Hovering over a candidate’s social network icons can still display name.  Additionally, much has been written about unconscious bias and recruiters’ tendency to be swayed by immaterial information such as Ivy League alma maters.  I would have liked to see the blind hiring mode include an option to retain education level while removing alma mater.

I had a concern as well about the diversity filters, narrowing the candidate search to only females, only Hispanics, only veterans, or any combination of the three. I wondered aloud if it might exacerbate recruiter bias.  

Gupta explained how an HR manager, for instance, might enable the diverse search and still keep the recruiter in the dark about these search parameters.

“You could do a Boolean search in the keywords section: diversity:(Female OR Hispanic OR Veteran OR “African American”); It would give you results for all four diversity categories we support,” he said. “Alternatively, you could choose one category at a time and then add those results to a project, e.g. ‘Diverse Data Scientists’.”

Then, Gupta said, you could share the project with the recruiter in blind hiring mode.  

Playing Around with the Platform

I test drove the recruiter platform. SeekOut immediately recognized I was on Chrome and offered me a Chrome extension for my toolbar, which I added. Then I got the message that “When you’re browsing LinkedIn you can save candidates to a SeekOut project or get contact info by clicking the SeekOut icon in the Chrome toolbar.”  A very nice feature, which directed me to its Sourcing Assistant.

SeekOut Sourcing Assistant

Anyone can sign up for this, free of charge, without subscribing to SeekOut. You can search an unlimited number of profiles, save and organize candidate information, find their verified email addresses and social network links, export your data to a spreadsheet, and get AI-powered recommendations for new candidates, based on their similarity to ones you’ve chosen. However, you can only retrieve contact information for 10 candidates each month, unless you purchase more credits, or subscribe to SeekOut.

Unlike SeekOut, you can’t search public profiles, GitHub and many other social networks. There are several other features in the paid version that are vital as well, such as talent pool insights, diverse search and more. 

Back to SeekOut

The SeekOut landing page gave me three tabbed search options – Public Profiles, GitHub, and Social Networks. There’s also a radio button for blind hiring mode. Below that are displayed the first (unfiltered) of 10 of the 117.9 million profiles. The left sidebar enables keyword search and other filtering options that include location by radius, diversity search options, and country of origin. I was able to filter based on the current company. That’s a great tool if, for instance, you know a firm is being downsized, and want to get the jump on its employees. Additional filters include current and past titles and company, skills, years of experience, schooling, languages, awards and more.

I really liked the Position Magnet tool. SeekOut has analyzed the skills and backgrounds of people in millions of positions, and from that has determined commonalities, and allows a search specific to the employer.  Do you admire what Google engineers have designed? Would you like engineers who can produce comparable products for your firm? In the Position Magnet filter enter Google and engineer. Similar great candidates will display shortly, and you can see what part of their background makes them a good match for your position. You can still use filters to narrow Magnet results, so, for example, you only see these great comparable candidates if they live in Los Angeles.

I began my candidate hunt by keyword searching for a software developer, choosing both the security clearance and U.S. work authorization requirements and filtering within 500 miles of San Diego, Calif. I asked for females with two to five years’ experience, an Associate degree, and who were fluent in both English and Spanish. I considered specifying their alma mater but could readily see that this narrowed results too far. The highest attendance, for example, was Cal Poly, delivering only 26 candidates. Results: 60 candidates. I had the option of adding each to my project list, tag her as priority or Rockstar, ignore her, or decide not to contact her. For those who had no email address, if I found one elsewhere I could add it to the profile. When I added one of the candidates to my Software Developer project, a notice of such appeared at the top of her profile.  

I tested the Public Profiles’ People Insights tab about a company – where they hire from, employee titles, diversity information, education and more. I studied Twitter and found that three-fourths of its staff is from the Bay area, one of every four employees is a software engineer, many of whom had worked previously for Google, Microsoft or Yahoo. Java and social media were their top two skills, and more than 40 percent had over 10 years of experience.

SeekOut Insights

By way of People Insights, I also homed in on position and a particular role in a particular area. Searching Business Analyst at Microsoft, for example, I found that the most prominent former employer was Boeing and that the most prevalent past title was financial analyst. Only three of these folks began as interns, and 39 percent had been in their role less than two years.

I then studied the 3,100 software engineers working in Phoenix, Ariz. I saw that they primarily worked for Intel, GM, Amazon, American Express and GoDaddy. Their top skills were Java, JavaScript and C++. The bulk of them had graduated from ASU, U of AZ and Northern Arizona University. No Ivy Leaguers here. A real eye opener for this heavily-Hispanic area was the paucity of Hispanic hires.

Moving to the GitHub tab, I observed that there were 13.1 million candidates in its database. The filters are massive and show an amazing understanding of the skills involved in technology positions. A few examples: application development, graphics and gaming, and mobile. Within the server and cloud category, for example, are numerous sub categories such as API, Back End, and Google Cloud.

I wanted to find a developer that could help gamify our skills assessment platform and create a mobile app for it. I chose mobile skills including both IOS and Android, as well as Java, game development and graphics skills. I looked in the Phoenix area and since SeekOut had alerted me that the largest local IT companies are not hiring Hispanics or women, I searched specifically to those two groups. 

The SeekOut-enhanced GitHub profile is expansive. First up is title and employer, followed by Coder Score, and the list of candidate repositories.  For the first candidate, with a 16-repository collection, SeekOut narrowed those down for me, displaying only the three relevant to my hiring needs, which I opened via hyperlink to study the candidate’s coding work. 

I moved on to the Social Networks tab, where I had 37 options such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Meetup. These were divided up into 16 general, and others specific to developers, healthcare workers, researches, designers, freelancers, and architects. Since there were 7 networks where developers hang out, I was disappointed that I had to choose and search each of them separately. This seemed needlessly time consuming and left me wary of duplicates. I much preferred the GitHub search.

SeekOut Public Profile

In Conclusion

While SeekOut’s most obvious appeal is the way it enables a recruiter to quickly and efficiently home in on the perfect passive candidate, that’s not what makes it a top-notch sourcing tool. In a recruiting world of four percent unemployment, and even far more competition in the technology industry, passive candidates are inundated with unsolicited employer contacts. A recruiter who has the reams of personal information on their chosen candidates that SeekOut provides is far more able to engage on a greater personal level, and far more likely to have the candidate respond.

“Everyone engages when the other party has done their homework, when you know their background, and know who they are,” Gupta said. “Everyone has their little bit of ego. If you reach out to them by acknowledging their contributions, they’ll reach back.”

Gupta’s claim that SeekOut empowers recruiters to engage in a more meaningful way is clearly accurate. That’s its top differentiator.

Editor’s Note: We were in no way compensated for this article.  


Noel Cocca

CEO/Founder RecruitingDaily and avid skier, coach and avid father of two trying to keep up with my altruistic wife. Producing at the sweet spot talent acquisition to create great content for the living breathing human beings in recruiting and hiring. I try to ease the biggest to smallest problems from start-ups to enterprise. Founder of RecruitingDaily and our merry band of rabble-rousers.