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Calgary’s Next Economy: Bring back the skills! StackRaft helps take the bias out of hiring

Do our biases come into play when searching for the right job applicant?

When she was 19-years-old, Calgary entrepreneur Vartika Manasvi started a job writing resumes for people.

“At that point in time, the high point was making the job seeker successful in getting interview requests,” Manasvi said.

So, she studied the right formula for getting interview requests; how the software worked, the applicant tracking systems and how to pitch the right keywords.

She would look at job descriptions all over the web and then tailor a person’s resume to make it very high profile for the applicant.

“When they got an interview request, I was like, ‘wow, that’s a good formula,” she said.

As she developed her own career, and elevated into positions of hiring others and building her own team, she always received these perfect resumes.

“That’s when I thought, ‘this is not how I can hire. Ever,” she said.

Now, her company, StackRaft, virtually eliminates the x-factor of the perfect resume and instead focuses on the things companies actually want: Skills.

Challenge created. Challenge accepted.

The StackRaft system is designed to connect project and software engineers with potential employers by allowing them the chance to demonstrate their job-worthy skills.

A prospective company will go in to create a job, with the skills required and some of the particulars of the position. Based on the job attributes required the system creates an instant coding or software challenge.

When a candidate applies for the job, they have to complete the challenge.

We made the mistake of asking what a challenge would look like.  

“So, for example, how would you parse XML in Python?” Manasvi said.

OK, then.

“These are technical coding challenges and it comes down to evaluating a candidates’ skills and the skills the company needs,” she said.

Any manager knows the challenge of sifting through a mountain of resumes. How do we select the ones that are best? By the way the resumes are designed or written?

“Why don’t you just get the right people in and assess them based on the first evaluation parameter of what will make them successful on the job,” Manasvi said.

Global platform in the works

Manasvi said her work with the Junction program at Platform Calgary is setting her up to take this idea global.

Today, the first version is geared towards software engineers. She knows there are multiple markets beyond that of the coding world. She said it can be applied to writing skills, graphic design or other knowledge-based fields.

As a serial entrepreneur, Manasvi is excited by the challenge ahead. Even when she’s had corporate jobs, “I used to have side hustles.”

This project has her engaged and the potential for it gives her the energy to keep it moving forward. She wants the platform to make a difference in hiring.

“I really people to find value in what we’re doing. So, my end goal with this product is equality in hiring,” she said.

“It shouldn’t matter where you’re born, where you got your degree from – what should matter is what you can do and your ability to do things.”