How our startup grew 400% in 2018

2018 was a pivotal year for HackerTrail, in every sense. It was the year that we went from a scattered set of features and heavily customised revenue models to a truly integrated product that helps our customers do one thing – to hire the best technologists as efficiently as possible!

Here at HackerTrail, based out of Singapore, we began life as a technical assessments provider. Our founder is a former technology leader, ex-Wall Street, who felt that what the recruitment world lacked was the ability to tell a good technology candidate from a bad one. So that’s what we set out to enable. But with a relatively low barrier to entry and near red ocean price points, we realised quickly that the technical assessments business would become a race to the bottom. At the same time, we listened to each one of our clients, small and big, and decided it was time for a rethink.

After going back to the drawing board, we figured out that what our assessments business had taught us, ahead of all other learnings, was that testing a candidate’s technical competence was just one part of a much larger problem faced by hiring managers, agencies, and talent acquisition people alike. How to locate, identify, attract, recruit, and then hang onto talented technology professionals is an art only the likes of FANG (or is that FAAMG?*) have really mastered.

So what have we done to help our clients solve this challenge, and how has that led to a 400% increase in revenue, in 2018 alone?
Well, to start with, we now look at recruitment more scientifically as a three-part process:

  1. Source a very wide pool of talent.
  2. Identify the best fits for a role using proprietary machine learning and our gamified assessment engine.
  3. Present only the top 5% of candidates to the hiring manager … and watch the magic happen!

Our new approach allows us to provide crystal clear value, both to our customers and to our fantastic candidates. But don’t let us sway you, look at our numbers for the year and be your own judge:

Number of HackerHunt days:8
Number of vacancies:132
Number of applications:9,402
Number of resumés reviewed:794
Number of interviews:406
Number of job offers:92

That’s right – our strike rate on vacancies to job offers was 70% – which means HackerTrail’s technology was able to beat the industry average by 100%! And we’re just getting started.

So what are we selling?

The talent acquisition space is becoming so crowded with different technologies, algorithms, dashboards, channels, and buzz words, it can be baffling. Our goal; at HackerTrail is to make the lives of our customers simple. That’s why we offer them the following:

  • HackerTrail Recruit – hire top talent from 80 countries, one role at a time, receiving quality profiles directly in your inbox.
  • HackerHunt Interview & Assessment Days – build an entire team of people in one evening, interviewing only talent that’s been pre-curated against your specific requirements.
  • HackerTrail Tech Assessments – build your own talent pipeline, then evaluate your candidates on a hundred different technical skills, all in real time, by channeling your candidates to your own bespoke employer microsite that’s running HackerTrail’s technical assessments.
  • HackerTrail Job Portal – post your jobs for free and receive, on average, 100 – 200 candidates per job posted, with technical assessments and a matching engine already tied in.

What did we learn?

We can’t claim that the above happened without some trial and error. Nor did everything go smoothly, every step of the way. However, what we can say is that by continually measuring what we were doing, and by acting quickly when things weren’t working, we were able to save ourselves an awful lot of heartache, time and money, and build credibility with a range of amazing, tier-1 employers!

What does 2019 look like?

With a team of 20 people in two cities, and a growing candidate and client pool, it’s hard not to get excited about the next leg of our journey. As well as our current office locations in Singapore and India, our eyes are fixed on Malaysia and Hong Kong in the not-too-distant future. Stay tuned for more updates.

Keen to learn how HackerTrail works?

Reach out to our sales team and we’ll gladly give you a personal demo.

See some testimonials and watch some HackerHunt Interview and Assessment Days in action.

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* FANG: an acronym for Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, coined by those who follow popular technology stocks. FAAMG stands for Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

Working at GovTech: A Fresh Grad’s Perspective

With the increasing prevalence of cyber attacks, more and more companies are looking into hiring professionals to keep their information safe. Cybersecurity is certainly financially lucrative but these professionals are not doing it just for the paycheck. We speak to Keith, who shares with us his recent experience as an Incident Responder- drawing parallels to a firefighter, and the immense value his role brings to the company. In addition, we have Keith’s mentor, Liyana Fauzi, from the Strategic Planning and International Division to share with us how her GovTech journey has helped in her mentorship with Keith.

Why did you join GovTech’s Technology Associate Programme? 

Before I graduated, I was actively looking for a job in the Cyber Security technical field. One distinct reason on why I applied to GovTech’s TAP was the programme’s structure. I personally felt that the programme was well crafted for fresh graduates who wanted to develop a career in the IT industry. The programme encourages rotation, a mentor to guide you and offers several job roles to select from to kick-start your career.

Describe a typical working day at GovTech

I am an Incident Responder in the Cyber Security Operations team. What that basically means is that, my role is comparable to the functionality of a firefighter when a fire breaks out. The firefighter will be alerted of the incident immediately and tasked to contain the fire. They will then need to remediate the issue, provide root cause analysis on how the fire started as well as recommendations on how to prevent such a situation from happening in future. When the firefighters are not reacting to incidents, they will be at the station finding means to increase their skills or sharpen the tools they have.

This is similar to the reactive and proactive role as an Incident Responder. When a cyber-security incident occurs, we will be there to perform both forensic/memory image on the system and bring it back for further analysis.  

My typical workday typically consists of these 3 fundamental roles- malware analyst, data/log analyst and incident response. Malware analysis involves examining malicious scripts/executables and determine what are its capabilities. This could involve reverse-engineering an executable in assembly language. In addition, as a data/log analyst, I am involved in analysing the huge amount of raw data from network, application and database logs. In order to understand how the incident happened over the network, I have to correlate the data from multiple sources and make sense of what the adversary was trying to perform. Lastly, for incident response, I work as an incident Handler for security events.

As a proactive individual, I am always finding ways to reduce the time taken for investigation either by automating the investigation process or by looking for new tools out in the market which could aid in investigation.

However, GovTech is not all about work; till date I was involved in many other exciting events such as being part of the planning committee for Cyber Security Group (CSG). I also had the opportunity to participate in GovTech’s Dinner and Dance performance which gave me the opportunity to make a lot of wonderful friends from the different departments. My team also makes an effort every once in a month to head out and enjoy ourselves with activities like bowling, badminton, dinners and drinks, and many more!

Talk about the technical skills you have been working on at TAP?

Since my time here in GovTech, I have been exposed to various technical skills such as reverse engineering, data analytics and scripting. For reverse engineering, my role as a malware analyst is to understand the capabilities of a malware. This involves looking at assembly codes, understanding different API calls or even looking at malicious scripts/programs. In data analytics, there are countless opportunities to work on big data. I picked up numerous pre-processing techniques and analytical skills such as R, Python, Splunk, Tableau. As for scripting, I am continuously improving on our investigation tools as well as scripting languages such as Python, bash or Powershell.

What do you enjoy the most about working for GovTech?  

As we are the “firefighters” for the Whole-of-Government, the investigation we perform is for the government. By solving incidents, I get a sense of satisfaction as I am ensuring a safer environment for us to work in.

What is the one advice you would give to those considering applying for the TAP programme?

If you’re looking for a quick and challenging environment, GovTech will be the place for you. A personal advice on what I tell my juniors is that as a fresh graduate entering into the IT industry, there are just too many different roles. You will not know if the role suits you unless you try it out. Look for an organization which offers you the opportunity for rotation so you can grow as an individual.

Share one key takeaway from the TAP programme

As part of TAP, we are each paired with a mentor who is more senior in the organisation. My mentor, Liyana has guided me through my times here in GovTech. She ensured that I understood the organisation structure, check in if there were any challenges faced and asking if I needed any help that she can help with. It is really heartwarming to have an awesome mentor.

Liyana, share with us your mentorship experience with Keith.

I was matched with Keith and another mentee through a fun matchmaking/interview session. As Keith and I are from different teams in GovTech, I saw my role as a  mentor in general work matters, and not so much the technicalities of his domain area. This mentorship experience enabled me to reflect upon how it was for me when I first joined the then-IDA as a relatively fresh grad too, and to try to pick out some of the lessons I’ve learnt along the way since then; things that I could share with Keith. I have tried to keep the mentorship experience pretty light and to provide an open space for candid discussions. We would typically meet over coffee to talk about how he’s doing at work, what’s happening with the organisation (given that there have been many changes), and to also share my experience in navigating the workplace such as how to manage stakeholders or how my mentees could meet their meet career aspirations.

How has your GovTech journey helped your mentorship with Keith? 

What helped me in my mentorship was mainly (a) things I picked up from other seniors, (b) having gone through certain GovTech programmes and (c) forging friendships with other mentors. For example, one piece of workplace advice that I hold closely is not to be afraid to ask and actively pursue opportunities that one was interested in. This piece of advice was lent to me by another senior and it is something I share with my mentees too, and I think it could be useful for the TAPs who are just starting out at work. Programmes that I had completed in my GovTech journey such as the EDGE Programme and the Sectoral Inter-agency Projects have also provided me with some insight into what the other agencies are doing, how agencies view GovTech’s work and how to manage cross-agency issues. To me, it is important for my mentees to know how their work has impact on other agencies’. In addition, as all mentors had to go through a two-day course, the friendships I developed with other mentors has also been very helpful in this journey as we could exchange ideas about topics to discuss with our own individual mentees.

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Are you an advocate of the innovative use of technology and how it can enhance the lives of fellow Singaporeans? GovTech Technology Associate Programme (TAP) could be a place for you to start. TAP is an exclusive leadership trainee programme carefully crafted to develop and hone your technical knowledge and professional skills.  Upon selection, you’ll participate in 24 months of specialist training and grooming to take on technical roles within GovTech that will accelerate your career development.

Make an impact on the future of technology; join now by applying to the GovTech Technology Associate Programme. You can find out more about GovTech Technology Associate Programme here.

 

HackerTrail: SITF Bronze Award (2015)

We are proud and humbled to announce that HackerTrail has been awarded the Bronze Award in the Best Innovative Infocomm Product (Consumer) Category, at the SITF Awards 2015!

Our new product, the HackerTrail Arena, was assessed across the broad fields of market impact, innovation, and presentation. (http://arena.hackertrail.com/)

The Arena is an online multi-player, multi-level technical quiz game with real time results. The Arena empowers players to participate in technical tournaments using virtual currency. Each tournament can be configured to test one or multiple technical skills and consists of multiple rounds of challenges. The heart of this product is our proprietary judge which can process source code as well as multiple-choice inputs in real time. Each player’s mission is simple – eliminate opponents by cracking challenges as fast as possible, and progress to higher levels in the game. Winners are rewarded with badges and virtual currency, linked to a Rewards store. Players who get eliminated are provided with relevant tutorials to help them improve their skills.

Our platform was evaluated on several criteria: degree of innovation, technological elegance, functionality, trendsetting factor and user impact.

The awards were presented at the Infocomm Industry Gala Dinner held on the 1st of October in Singapore.

A big shout-out to all who have supported us in one way or another in the development of HackerTrail Arena! We’re just getting started and over the next few months we will continue to refine and improve the experience for everyone.

 

About the SITF Awards 

SITF Awards was inaugurated in 2009. The awards are accolades from the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SITF) to recognize technological innovation in local businesses in Singapore.

HackerTrail in conversation with RI

Last year around the same time I was interviewed by Recruitment International (RI), this was the time when we had just launched HackerTrail.

For those who don’t know RI is a digital magazine with its presence in Asia, Australia and UK.

We discussed many things like, recruitment industry its future & challenges, how technology will positively disrupt the way the recruitment industry operates, for recruiters, employers and candidates.

Read the full article here

I would love to know,

1. What are the recruitment challenges you are facing these days?

2. How are you attempting to solve them?

3. Do you use social media for recruitment?

4. Have you explored the social recruitment tools so far?

I will be happy to help you solve your challenges and share my experience and resources.

Looking forward to hear from you.

Welcome to HackerTrail’s blog!

Hola folks!

I’m Tushar, hacker turned hustler and part of the founding team @ HackerTrail, a cloud-based recruitment solution. We built this product to solve a very practical problem – to connect the right people with the right opportunity. And we’re working hard towards making IT recruitment as frictionless as possible. It’s a big ask and a big task, and we’re glad to have you with us on this journey.

This blog will serve as our way to share what we’ve learnt about owning and growing a career, and some tips and tricks to help each of us get ahead. We’ve barely scratched the surface with this, so a few questions to help us make this better:

  • Do you like the posts we’ve got on here?
  • What would you like us to cover? Salary reviews? Company highlights? AMA sessions with CTOs?
  • What is the ONE thing that you think will help you with your career?

The best suggestion every month will win a surprise gift, as a token of my appreciation for your effort. Reach out in any way you’d like – post a comment below / email me at tt@hackertrail.com  / or tweet me @tushartejuja