SpringRole: Making Hiring Work Better, Through Referrals

Story by Benjamin F. Kuo


Anyone who has tried to hire employees for their company knows that personal referrals from employees always tend to work out much better than random job applicants. However, you quickly tap out available referrals your employee base. How do you get that same quality of hires and keep those referrals coming? Los Angeles-based SpringRole ( is backed by Science, Inc.-- is looking to take that same, fundamental idea of personal referrals to jobs, and scale it out through social networks and the social graph. We spoke with CEO Benoit Vatere about what the company is up to.

How does SpringRole work?

Benoit Vatere: The whole idea behind SpringRole, is to be able to scale the job referral opportunity. We all know, obviously, that the people you hire from referrals are probably the best hires you have ever made. The problem is, it's not consistent in terms of how often you can get a referral, and it's not something you can rely on as you grow. That's what we are going to build. We're building a marketplace where people can hire employees through referrals, in a predictable manner, to bring in amazing candidates. To build that, the first thing we knew we had to build was a recommendation engine. We knew that if you ask people an open ended questions about possible referrals, your chances of finding someone are pretty slim, because people don't necessarily know who in your network is good for that position. However, we found that if you go to that same people, and ask them what job you'd recommend for a person, the response would go through the roof. So, to do that, you have to build a recommendation engine. SpringRole is taking that to the next level, with a team with deep experience in machine learning from Carnegie Mellon University, to build that engine. We are going through lots of data and networks, understanding who is a good match for existing jobs, to figure out how to scale that referral process.

What had you been doing before SpringRole?

Benoit Vatere: I had been working at Science for the past two or three years, working as an EIR for several companies. I worked on a lot of different projects. Both Mike Jones and I had run into the same issues building and scaling teams, and both of us knew we wanted to build something around that.

There have been lots of attempts to figure out recruiting and referrals—what's different here?

Benoit Vatere: There are two things we have. One is our recommendation engine. Lots of people have built referral systems, but they were not recommendation engines. That makes a huge difference. The second big piece, is people today are only asking their own employees for referrals. That is very limited. We wanted to go beyond the walls, beyond those employees, and build a network of people who want to refer others. So, instead of just a hundred people or only twenty people, you can leverage thousands, and millions of people.

How do the referrals work?

Benoit Vatere: When a company post a job on SpringRole, we match it against our 7 million plus candidates and growing. When our matching algorithm has identified the qualified candidates, it list all the SpringRole users connected to them. At that point we contact the users that can refer through the most efficient channel, whether that is email, Facebook Chat, Twitter DM, iOS Push notification, etc. and ask them if they would like to refer their friend for job X at company Y. From there, this is the standard referral process where they connect with their friend and provide them a link that allow them to apply for the job they have been referred for.

How are you getting the word out about your service?

Benoit Vatere: We have been acquiring users through some very aggressive social media campaigns for awhile, which has been driving users to the site who are referring people. It's all about monetizing your network, and helping your friends get a cool job. People who apply to those jobs become users, and that's how we are getting more people to use SpringRole. When someone comes to the site and signs up, we quickly go through their different channels—email, Facebook messages, and so on—and recommend people that they can refer in their network.

What's next for SpringRole?

Benoit Vatere: What's next for us, obviously, is scaling. We've seen some strong growth over the last three months, and we're getting more clients on the platform. Another thing we are pushing, is going beyond just LinkedIn, to Facebook, Twitter, and Google, and focusing on monetizing those networks, and not just LinkedIn.



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