October 18, 2021

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Bay Area’s HackerRank is connecting capable candidates to tech jobs by focusing on equitable hiring

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (KGO) — Tech companies are taking a closer look at job applicants, considering skills over educational pedigree for many sought-after positions.

In our effort to build a better Bay Area, we’ve turned our attention to the changing workplace.

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Tech experts in Silicon Valley tell ABC7 News they are seeing a shift in the traditional hiring process. Resumes, GPA’s and universities attended now carry little weight if you can’t do the job.

“What matters is really the skills that you’ve accumulated and not which schools you went to or which companies you worked at before,” Vivek Ravisankar, co-founder and CEO of HackerRank explained.

The Mountain View-based company is bridging tech talent and recruiters. Among the many services offered, HackerRank allows recruiters to meet with candidates and review their skills in real-time.

This approach offered a saving grace for San Jose State University (SJSU) student Luke Brouwer. After his first year, he said he found difficulty in getting his foot in the door.

“I just had a resume,” Brouwer said. “I had no idea what you needed to do to get into these companies and I actually had a lot of failures. I didn’t get into any internship after my first year.”

He continued, “And that was a really big problem for me.”

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Brouwer said preparation through HackerRank helped him land a software engineering internship at Walmart Labs.

He said the company put him in communication with recruiters. He was able to connect with them on LinkedIn and conduct one-on-ones with engineers. Brouwer said all of this was made possible because of HackerRank’s career job fair.

Brouwer said he understands there is plenty of competition across the tech industry, even on the education level.

“San Jose State has a very high impaction rate for students trying to take the Computer Science major,” he said. “There is a ton of other people in that major as well and you need to be better than them just to get into the major.”

He credits his internship success to the company.

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This hands-on perspective is one that SJSU professor and cyber security expert Ahmed Banafa says will put candidates on a level playing field.

For instance, someone from an Ivy League school isn’t being held to a higher esteem than someone at a state university.

“You’ll have students who will solve a problem in 50 lines of code that somebody will solve with 10 lines of code- which give you exactly the same results,” Banafa shared about what he’s observed in his classes. “What is the difference here? How did the student manage to get this shortcut compared to the others?”

“Because it’s back to the personality. It’s built on how that person is thinking and approaching the problem and solving the problem in their own way,” he continued.

Banafa says, for the ever-evolving tech industry, this new targeted approach makes it so time isn’t being wasted.

“Looking at the company, they’ll say, ‘I need somebody who knows Python. I need somebody who knows Java- JavaScript… at this level,'” he shared. “They’ll test this person, connect them, done!”

Banafa made clear, “I’m not gonna ask, ‘Have you taken this class or the other class,’ I’m gonna ask you, ‘Can you do it?'”

“Companies have also started to embrace the idea of hiring on skills over pedigree,” HackerRank’s Ravisankar shared. “Famously, Google and Apple have dropped their degree requirements from their job postings, and a lot of companies are following suit.”

He said his company is leading the effort to put and keep an emphasis on equitable hiring.

“It used to be a little bit of an uphill battle early on in our journey because companies were still oriented around resumes, and schools, and Ivy League and others,” Ravisankar told ABC7 News. “But today, the movement is real. I mean, I can feel it.”

For more information on HackerRank’s services, click here.

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