Lessons learned on building an app from job seekers (in tech)

Lessons learned on building an app from job seekers (in tech)

Hey there, I’m Andrew Stetsenko, an HR-Tech entrepreneur.

Last year I sold a CV Compiler to Resume Worded (one of my direct competitors) and am extremely happy about it. I'd like to share what I've learned about building a) an app for job seekers, b) in a very competitive market, and c) with developers as my primary target audience.

I thought I had it all figured out when it came to hiring software engineers. I mean, after spending over a decade in the tech recruiting industry, what else could there be to learn, right? Boy, was I in for a surprise.

When I embarked on creating CV Compiler (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18503729), this nifty ML-powered tool (yes, there was no AI in 2018) designed to improve developer resumes, I was hit with challenges left and right. Every day felt like a crash course in business survival. But now that I’ve regained my footing, I want to share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Maybe they’ll help you out too.

Observation #1: Job Seekers’ Self-Reliance

In the tech world, job seekers are pretty self-sufficient. Before they even think about spending money on resume advice, they try everything under the sun to do it themselves. They’ll tweak their resumes, polish their LinkedIn profiles, and agonize over whether to use a .doc or .pdf format. It’s like they’re on a never-ending quest for the perfect resume template.

I’ve noticed that ChatGPT can be a game-changer for job seekers when it comes to writing resumes and cover letters. It offers personalized, real-time feedback and suggestions that align with the latest industry trends, which is invaluable. I’ve seen it help articulate complex technical skills and experiences in a way that’s both clear and compelling, really making resumes and cover letters stand out to recruiters. Plus, it can guide you in structuring your documents and optimizing keywords for specific job descriptions.

It's still a bit fluffy, but many of my developer friends started to use ChatGPT (or similar tools) for their job search.

The real competition for career service businesses isn’t other companies—it’s the candidates themselves. To win them over, you’ve got to offer something they can’t get from a DIY approach.

Observation #2: The Challenge of Tech Resume Writing

There are so many poorly written resumes out there, even though we have countless free tools and guides. It’s like people are swimming in resources but still sinking. Never underestimate how tough it is to craft a solid tech resume.

Writing a tech resume sounds simple, but trust me, it’s not.

Getting ghosted by recruiters after sending out your resume feels like a punch to the gut. I’ve been there. Many job seekers immediately think their resume is the problem and start tweaking its appearance. But often, that’s not the real issue.

Content trumps appearance every time. Instead of just making your resume look nice, dig deeper to understand why you’re getting rejections and work on those areas.

Observation #3: Emotional Impulses in Career Services

Emotions play a huge role in how people buy career services. Picture this: a developer has a rough day at work, fights with the team lead, and spills coffee on their keyboard. Frustrated, they start googling job vacancies and career advice. They might impulsively buy a career coaching session or a resume template. But once the bad day passes, they often forget all about it.

People often make emotional decisions when buying career services. Tap into that by creating engaging, memorable experiences for your clients.

Observation #4: Myths about ATS-friendly resumes

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) have a bad rep, even among tech pros. Many think their resumes need to be ATS-compatible or they’ll never be seen by a human. It’s like this big, scary robot myth.

We’re getting better at debunking these myths. The internal research by our data scientists shows that only a tiny percentage of resumes fail the parsing stage (<1%). ATS is more about organization than outright rejection.

I will never stop recommending the YouTube channel of the fantastic Amy Miller, who has worked as a recruiter at Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. Amy shares the truth about how ATS is used by recruiters in reality. Check it out - https://www.youtube.com/@AmyMiller

Unfortunately, not enough voices in the industry are saying out loud that job seekers should not care about ATS.

Don’t buy into the ATS horror stories. Focus on making your resume high-quality and relevant. Understanding what ATS really does can ease a lot of unnecessary worry.

Last but not least (or probably the most essential learning)

If you ask me why so many tools for job seekers look either primitive, okayish designed or offer pretty average results/suggestions - it's not a market for applying technology. It's a business built purely on an SEO/marketing game. You need to catch a job seeker in a short span of time. Otherwise the interest is gone.

That's why the realistic proportion of effort in companies that build tools for job seekers is 80%+ SEO/marketing and 20% for product/technology in the best case.