• Do you dislike the hiring process?

    Vouched was an HR startup, that some called the "Klout for Character Traits."

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  • The problem was obvious.

    The job market has changed and the typical way of validating candidate experience, expertise, and potential was outdated. I designed a solution based on qualitative AND quantatative data collected for online resources and the professional references of each candidate.

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Attitude beats Aptitude.

Data-influenced hiring reduced bias.

The Intro

​Vouched empowered business professionals to use crowdsourced reputation analytics for job-hunting and career advancement. By citing our analytics, app users stood out with crowdsourced feedback from the people who have vouched for eight “PRINCIPAL-Traits” most valued by employers: Professionalism, Integrity, Communication, Innovation, Adaptability, Leadership and Teamwork.

Unlike any other career tools, the Vouched app allowed users to assign a strength to each of their professional connections as they ‘vouch’ for the top 4 character traits exhibited by each individual. This "Connection Strength" meter gave users the ability to segment their professional network by how closely they were connected to each other. Connection strength was factored into the algorithm that reveals the recipient’s strongest character traits.

We, and countless people we talk to, understood that what's missing from LinkedIn, and other professional networking and career development solutions. It was the ability to segment close connections from casual acquaintances. Unlike Endorsements, the app provided a scientifically valid methodology and analytics to measure professional reputation that had practical application in the business world for both individuals and employers.

The Challenge

It has become the norm, in business, to state the adage, "it's all about who you know." We built a platform around what we instead believed to be true, "it's not about who you know, but instead about how you're known." The challenge was that there was no modern way for working professionals to collect and present a peer- and supervisor-reviewed history of character and performance.

The Approach

​Testimonials are outdated and the 'Endorsement' feature on LinkedIn was hardly scratching the surface. We thought we'd create the career equivalent of a credit report. The "Vouched Score" would allow any individual to crowdsource the opinions of their peers, clients, and colleagues on their character traits and proven abilities, thus digitally 'vouching' for that person.

The Hurdles

​The user experience hurdles were challenging to address with a wide variety of personas represented within primary user demographic. The age range of our users and their varying levels of work experience created an interesting dynamic for color correlations, word choice, and interaction design expectations.

For example, we adopted something similar to a "tinder swipe" for the mobile app product, when a user would randomly go through a stack of peers/connections to quickly find people to vouch for. The feature had to be explained as if it was new, I utilized orange instead of red because of the less severe mental correlation, and swiping occurred on what appears to be two buttons (thus allowing a user to tap Vouch or Skip or swipe in the direction of either). The versatility worked well, especially with a confirmation screen used when a user chose to vouch for someone and a search link was always present in the page header, in case a user accidentally skipped someone they wanted to vouch for, after all.

  • While it’s become popular to cite the phrase, most companies still haven’t cracked the code that allows them to effectively "hire for character."

    Vouched allowed employers to hire based on character because users crowdsourced their strongest character traits from the people who knew them best and people they had already worked with or worked for.

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    "Vouching" For Traits

    Users of the app put their name behind people they knew well, and in turn were able to choose & rank traits that reflected them.

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    Fellow Candidate "Ranking"

    Employees and Employers had access to see how 1 or many people ranked for certain character traits or our unique, aggregate score.

Breaking the status quo.


The Facts

Simply put, companies frequently hire people who aren’t the right fit. “...our research tracked 20,000 new hires, 46% of them failed within 18 months, and 89% of the time it was for attitudinal reasons and not skills.”
—Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ and Author of “Hiring for Attitude”

The Market's Response

People love taking self-assessment quizzes, from “What Game of Thrones character are you?” to Myers-Briggs personality tests. People also want social affirmation from their friends and colleagues, whether it’s a “Like,” “Retweet” or a “Congrats on your new job.” Through our prototype development of the Vouched App, we found a very strong desire among business professionals for an app that would help them better understand their own character and reputation based on crowdsourced input from the people who know them best. If they could get that feedback, they would be willing to contribute to the network by ‘vouching’ for their connections, creating a virtuous cycle of statistically valid, crowdsourced character assessments.

We also found that companies and employers are excited to have access to analytics that will help them make more informed hiring and promotion decisions based on character and 'fit' for a particular position. The Vouched therefore aimed to be a key tool to accelerate the trend of “Hire Character. Train Skill.”

The Impact

Pipevine released the Vouched app and the Vouched Pro web application to great fanfare. The U.S. Department of Labor estimated that the average cost of a bad hiring decision can equal 30% of the first year’s potential earnings. On average, it costs $7,000 to replace a salaried employee to over $40,000 to replace a senior executive. Unfortunately, with low monetary conversion backing up the words of fans in the press, HR, and networking spheres, things were tough. To make it worse, applicants can’t always be trusted. 53% of all job applications contain inaccurate information.

The apps did well on both the iOS and Android store, we were featured in articles from large technology and startup news sources, and we even were invited to present our company to many investors and tech startup mentors in Silicon Valley shortly after launch.

The Outro

LinkedIn took a newfound dictatorship on their APIs and tripled the amount of work required for users to import their professional experience by blocking that data from being sent to us during login. The app is gone and the company has closed shoppe but our values are still alive. Hopefully, one day, technology will optimize and improve the real burden in HR, recruiting the right people in an efficient way.

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  • The MVP

    There were crazy long whiteboard sessions and lots of thinking that went into the graphic user interface and interaction design choices.

21st Century Hiring

The startup has since closed but the learnings influence my approach to enterprise and consumer-facing mobile app design.

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