Hi friends, it’s Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making the world a more equitable place! I have one more interview for you this week. Today I’m excited to cruise around the San Francisco Bay Area with Aditya Sharma, co-founder and CEO of HiCounselor, Inc. Aditya is going to tell us how HiCounseler is working to impact UN SDG 4: Quality Education. Let’s see how he’s doing it!
Spiffy: Welcome, Aditya, I’m excited to meet you! Can you start by telling me the challenges you are addressing through your work with HiCounselor?
Aditya: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Did you know that the process to search for jobs is a manual and tiring task. Job seekers spend about 25 to 30 hours per week searching online for employment opportunities, applying for job positions, and sending out hundreds of “connect requests” on LinkedIn. In the US, it takes about six months for someone to land a job.
Spiffy: Wow, that could be super frustrating! What motivated you to tackle this crucial issue?
Aditya: We are passionate about people's potential. As immigrants, we experienced firsthand what it’s like to look for a job, to need a guided job-search program, and to struggle to get referrals and interviews due to a limited professional network. We want every person to have the same opportunity to succeed in finding great jobs. Even after graduating from top schools in the US (Kellogg and Duke) it took us a lot of time and energy to secure good employment. We watched many of our talented classmates, both local and international, struggle to find a job. Rani—co-founder and president of HiCounselor—and I both have domain expertise, have mentored job seekers, and have led recruitment for our employers. Our strong background in AI and cloud tech makes us a perfect team to solve this problem.
Spiffy: I love the team approach, Aditya! Next question: how is HiCounselor working to make the world a more equitable place?
Aditya: HiCounselor is a career accelerator that helps job seekers prepare for interviews using an AI/NLP-powered interview prep tool, and then finds interview opportunities using a job search and networking automation tool. This tool automatically identifies jobs for our candidates every day. It also identifies who's hiring for that job position, and sends out a networking email on our candidates' behalf. In short, we've automated the entire interview prep and job search process. Our vision is to become the one-stop solution for all professions to get last-mile interview prep and access interview opportunities, without having to apply online.
Spiffy: Have you reached any milestones that you would like to tell us about?
Aditya: We recently helped more than 70 candidates land jobs in top tech companies. To expand our reach and help more candidates find their dream jobs, we've started free interview prep sessions for coding on Youtube. These sessions are conducted by instructors from top tech companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon. We have partnered with a few non-profit organizations so that their members can attend these amazing sessions, free of cost.
Spiffy: Can you share about an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up? What did you learn from failure?
Aditya: Rani and I left our jobs in late 2019 and launched HiCounselor as a marketplace where we could connect job seekers with company insiders. We did this through quick, 30-minute phone calls, providing advice on their resumes, cover letters, and upcoming interviews. This marketplace model failed because of two reasons. First, we were asking for money upfront from unemployed people. Second, we were unable to provide the ultimate value proposition to jobseekers—a job offer! We realized our mistakes and after working on the marketplace business model for about six months, in April 2020, we pivoted HiCounselor into a career accelerator which turned out to be an amazing solution for job seekers.
Spiffy: It sounds like you take your learnings seriously, Aditya! Before we sign off, is there anything else you want to tell our audience?
Aditya: Well, Spiffy, because HiCounselor is all about helping people find their dream career, I would like to assure all the job seekers out there that the job search journey is different for everyone. You should never doubt your capabilities even if you’ve experienced some rejections. Keep learning and improving and soon you will land your dream job.
Spiffy: This is the kind of stellar advice we love to share with our audience. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me Aditya, it’s been an honor.
Aditya Sharma is the co-founder and CEO of HiCounselor. Prior to co-founding HiCounselor, Aditya worked as a tech consultant for Deloitte and PwC where he led digital transformation projects for clients in the entertainment and media industry. Aditya graduated from Duke University and earned a bachelor of technology degree from the National Institute of Technology in India. (Nominated by Pathway Ventures. First published on the Ladderworks website on September 23, 2021.)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.