Four years into the process, Yves Lemursi is a smooth spokesman for his gift to reference checking, Checkster. After graduating from Taleo (where he was on the ground floor and built much of their research business), Lemursi starting fermenting the idea that was to become Checkster. After 18 months in product development and 30 months of trench level selling , it looks like Yves just might have changed the way that things get done.
Mill Valley, CA, where Yves houses Checkster’s Global Headquarters is an interesting place. Home to aging rock stars, famous writers and middle aged trust fund babies, the town has been a an artist’s colony for many years. It’s often the case that a newly minted rock star will buy a house in Mill Valley as a platform from which to build a second hit album. That’s why the streets of town are full of one hit wonders.
One hit wonders are those hi-pos with an astonishing initial track record who fail to live up to their supposed potential. It’s the norm. The number of musicians who create real legacies are few and far between Talent gets you a paying gig. The big time involves talent, luck and a sense of timing. Predicating the next big hit has it’s safest bet in the one hit wonders. There’s always a record company that will bet on lightning striking twice.
That’s the basic theory of reference checking – if they did well in their last job, they’ll do well in the next one. If they had one hit, they’re most likely good for another. Our fundamental understanding of the relationship between a person and a job is so primitive that that’s the best we can do.
It’s possible, I suppose, to do a thorough enough background check to minimize the risk of hiring someone. Until the advent of Checkster, it just seemed too hard. Generally, people don’t want to ‘rat out’ their friends; there is a ton of misinformation about the legal consequences of a frank reference; it’s generally scary; it takes a ton of time; the results are good for screening people out but less impressive for screening them in.
Certainly you don’t want a pedophile running the local day care center. Convicted embezzlers make bad CFOs. Really cranky political extremists probably don’t belong in liaison jobs. Sociopaths shouldn’t be CEOs (well, maybe not so much on that one).
Unfortunately, raw criminal checks don’t turn up everything you’d like to know. Somewhere, between the bet that history repeats itself and the fact that birds of a feather flock together lies the information you need for hiring decisions. Checkster mines the information by appealing to crowdsourcing as a basic model of intelligence.
Checkster radically reduces the cost of reference checking while dramatically improving its effectiveness. Rather than spending a perfunctory 90 minutes chasing down dead ends, the recruiter asks the prospective employee to invite a dozen or so people to give brief Checkster references. The results are collected, annotated and delivered in a substantive, easy to understand report.
From awful, time consuming chore to easy to execute value added service is an extreme transformation. As an added bonus, the references become part of your passive candidate pipeline. (That’s what the big league search firms do).
Checkster merits your attention. Crowdsourced reference checking will be the way that things get done four or five years from now. Easier, faster better, cheaper, smarter.