Business & Startups

How Amsterdam-based HR-tech scaleup TestGorilla will get rid of the curriculum vitae for good | Silicon Canals

Mark this date on your calendar: December 31, 2029. That’s the day the curriculum vitae is officially dead and buried. At least, that is the guess of Otto Verhage. He is co-founder and COO of Dutch scaleup TestGorilla, a SaaS company that offers pre-employment assessments to allow for more meaningful hiring. 

Better hiring, better people

TestGorilla is an Amsterdam-based HR-tech company that has re-imagined the hiring process. Instead of looking at someone’s CV before hiring them, TestGorilla has devised a SaaS product that lets prospective employees take a series of tests to determine who is the most suitable candidate. 

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This solution allows companies to determine better whether someone fits the team, the company and the job. As a result, employees are hired based on skills and personality rather than proficiency in the job-seeking process. And it eliminates unconscious bias among HR people, allowing for more diverse teams.

Flush in funding

Their solution for data-backed, skill-based hiring hit a note. The young company has been operating globally since their first couple of years. Investors are also eager to jump on board. In 2021, the scaleup raised €8.4 million. Less than a year later, they raised another round of €66.8 million

As with many great ideas, this one started over a meal. TestGorilla COO and co-founder Otto Verhage met Wouter Durville, also co-founder of the scaleup, for dinner when the conversation landed on work. Durville had a job opening for his company. With remote working taking away geographical barriers, suddenly, he had 800 CVs to dig through. Besides the amount of work this presented him, he also wondered how on earth it would lead to the perfect match for his company. 

The problem with your CV

“A CV won’t give you information on who would be a good match”, explains Verhage. “It doesn’t tell you enough about cognitive skills and motivation for the job. And the one hiring also has a bias in how they interpret a CV. Candidates from the same city or the same University have an unconscious advantage. But the science is clear, diversity in teams works better.”

Verhage recognised the problem. “I was responsible for recruitment at Bain & Company back then. We sometimes noticed people that we passed on getting hired by competitors. It made us wonder if we missed anything. So we tried looking at their resumes again to find a pattern but never found one.”

A big animal in the HR world

This strengthened Verhage’s idea that CVs, as we know them, are not very useful. “We wanted a tool that provided better information on candidates to make better decisions.” Tests would offer the solution. But according to Verhage, no tools were available that provided these in the way he envisioned: testing on a broad array of subjects.

During their dinner, the idea for their company was born. Inspired by other SaaS companies like Surveymonkey and Mailchimp, they opted for TestGorilla. “We wanted to offer a big library of tests. We aimed to be a big and strong animal in the market”, says Verhage. 

Right place, right time

TestGorilla is now almost 2.5 years old and rapidly becoming that big and strong animal. Employees are all over the world, as are their thousands of clients. Many are SMEs, but among them are big names like EY, Sony, The New York Times and Revolut. 

TestGorilla is also a clear case of ‘the right place and the right time’, says Verhage. “Many of our clients do not switch from another tool. It is the first time they have used something like this. There is way more focus on unconscious bias in the hiring process. And the labour market is shifting on all sides.” 

‘What’s the point in looking at resumes?’

Remote working is more usual, meaning that any job opening can look forward to applicants worldwide. Verhage also points to shortages and surpluses in labour. “During COVID, many people with a background in hospitality switched to healthcare. You can look at their resumes, but what’s the point? You must look at their skills and talents to see if they fit well.”

For TestGorilla, this means the world is ready for what they offer. In 5 years, Verhage wants to see the old-fashioned resume gone. “By then, the hiring process should happen with an assessment upfront. We are not the only ones seeing this development. LinkedIn and Indeed are also working on it. It only helps our case. It is up to us to offer a better product. Innovation can be hard for large companies. For us, that comes more naturally.”

Joining RISE by

To keep up with their rapid growth and to learn from experts and their peers, TestGorilla joined the Rise programme, organised by Verhage says, “We discussed many issues that fast-growing companies encounter. When to raise funding, how to proceed with sales? We can learn from seasoned experts like JustEat Takeaway’s Jitse Groen but also from other companies in the same growth phase as we are. We’re all talented entrepreneurs, and it’s great to build a network with them.”

The death of the CV

Looking into the future, Verhage sees the death of the CV. “We want to get rid of it completely”, he says. “It maintains inequality in our society. Instead, we’re creating a level playing field by helping companies move to skill-based hiring.” 

So when can we rip up our curriculum vitae for good? Pressed for an exact date, Verhage takes a wild guess: December 31st, 2029.

“But that might even be too conservative.”

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