iDatafy of Little Rock has launched its SmartResume Certified Job Talent Marketplace, designed to connect employers to white- and blue-collar job seekers who actually have the skills they’re looking for.
The online marketplace is free to employers through 2023 because the 10-year-old company’s expenses are being offset by a small slice of a $13 million federal grant Arkansas received last year, founder and CEO Dave Wengel said. It’s also free for job seekers.
The marketplace is a natural progression of the division the company started a few years ago and is most focused on right now: SmartResume, a data consortium that produces certified resumes for the alumni of its education partners. It serves about 20 schools now, including founding partners the University of Arkansas System, the Arkansas State University System, the University of Central Arkansas and Arkansas Tech University.
“We specialize in making data consortiums. ... So, basically, we work with companies and higher education institutions where they’ve got some type of problem that they can’t solve on their own. But, by sharing data, they’re able to get collective insight, and then solve that,” Wengel said.
Nearly $1.34 million of a $13 million U.S. Department of Education Reimagined Workforce Grant will cover three years of the company’s SmartResume work, he said. (Most of the grant went to UA Global Campus — the UA System’s online education arm — and Shorter College in North Little Rock to fund free skills training for unemployed Arkansans.)
Wengel got the idea to produce SmartResumes after receiving unsolicited calls from recruiters who asked if he was interested in applying for jobs he wasn’t qualified for. Wengel said those recruiters called him because his LinkedIn connections had recommended him for jobs and said he had skills he didn’t have, even though he’d never put those skills on his profile.
“We were kind of looking at this like ‘How has no one done this before?’ Colleges, for 500 years, they’ve been in a position of authority. They’ve issued a certified diploma. They’ve issued a certified transcript, but they’ve never actually issued a certified resume,” he said. “Arkansas, alone, is perfect to build a consortium of colleges where we actually help them issue certified resumes, not just for the four-year colleges, but for the two-year colleges.”
Phase one of the work was making 16 SmartResumes. Phase two was making them for 5,000 people. Phase three was making them for every UA Walton College of Business graduate dating back to 1993.
The company has now created more than 125,000 certified SmartResumes.
Wengel said iDatafy’s technology automates the production of SmartResumes for education partners and anonymizes the identity for job seekers so they aren’t contacted unless they want to be. That can also help employers avoid unconscious bias and job seekers who misrepresent themselves.
Every job seeker with a SmartResume has at least one achievement certified by an education partner. Job seekers must activate their own SmartResumes by visiting the marketplace website. They can also customize their profiles.
The company is working now to notify people that they have a SmartResume and to encourage Arkansas employers to sign up for a free marketplace account at smartresume.com.
Eventually, iDatafy plans to charge education partners that want to issue SmartResumes, Wengel said. It is planning to take the project nationwide, but the company is profitable now and hasn’t had to raise outside capital yet, he said. It employs 10 full-time workers, including Wengel.
Wengel said SmartResume has gained value as the pandemic has tightened the job market, and as the traditional ways employers found new hires — career fairs, for instance — have been limited.
“I think it’s fascinating that, when we started this, it was the hottest job market in our lifetimes. Then, when COVID hit, it was fascinating because we would have thought that that would have just totally really hurt the value,” he said. “But it didn’t because, instead, it became harder for companies, for employers, to find the talent. And then it also became harder for them to actually physically get out and meet with the potential job applicants.”
“We’re already starting to bring on national partners so that we can use what we’ve learned in Arkansas and slowly start scaling this out to the rest of the country.”