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Sanjay Sathe founded RiseSmart in 2006 to make finding a new job and hiring new employees more efficient. To achieve this, he conceived a proprietary technology and service platform specifically designed to match jobseekers with opportunities and to help companies fill open positions.
RiseSmart provides next-generation outplacement solutions by leveraging a cloud-based technology platform, proven methodologies, and one-on-one support to help employers with their workforce strategies and displaced employees with their career strategies. RiseSmart drives significant ROI to organizations by offering affordable pricing and reducing severance costs and unemployment taxes for outplacement services. Headquartered in San Jose, Calif., with a wholly owned subsidiary in Pune, India, RiseSmart is the fastest-growing outplacement solutions provider in the United States.
MO: Can you talk a bit about the process behind the development of a platform designed to match jobseekers with opportunities and some of the challenges you encountered along the way?
Sanjay: In looking at the companies offering job-matching solutions, I saw that they lacked a basic but essential element: convenience. I felt people would pay for convenience, because they pay for all kinds of conveniences, from cell phones to health clubs. When it comes to getting a job, why not make it easier on yourself and pay an agent to do it for you? This couldn’t be just any agent, but a driven, results-focused, Jerry Maguire type. This initial idea grew into the concept of a job concierge service in which people would to come to a website, give us their job preferences (build profiles) and then go and do whatever it is that they do best. We would leverage state-of-the-art search technology to aggregate open positions and match them with their profiles. Then the concierge filters them so we present to them only relevant opportunities from across the Internet based on their preferences. Building the ontology/taxonomy of job data has been the most challenging part of turning this idea into a successful business.
MO: How has RiseSmart helped revolutionize the employment industry by innovating outplacement services with a combination of technology and traditional services?
Sanjay: Technology is taking outplacement to the next level. Traditional outplacement offerings from the big players are more about grief counseling and office space, and they try to teach participants how to become job seekers. We are all about actually getting people jobs. We have done away with expensive office space and cookie-cutter offerings. We tailor offerings to the individual, presenting job opportunities that are relevant to the user and match their skills and experience. In addition to using technology to match individuals in transition to relevant jobs from across the Internet, we also connect those jobs to more than 300 social networks so users can network into jobs they like.
MO: Can you walk me through the experience of someone seeking employment through your site and what they can expect?
Sanjay: We work to create a “wow” experience for individuals in transition, starting with having them fill out a very user-friendly but highly detailed profile. This can be done simply by uploading an existing resume or a LinkedIn profile and checking and approving the information. Within 48 hours of filing the profile, individuals receive relevant job leads from across the net based on their preferences. And within seven days of signing up for our service, participants are handed a brand-new resume. Armed with relevant job leads and a quality resume, they are off to the races.
MO: What’s the biggest risk that you’ve ever taken and how did it turn out?
Sanjay: The biggest risk I’ve taken was moving out of the corporate world at the age of 44 — with kids in high school — to start RiseSmart. We’ve been able to attract investment, awards, an expanding group of fantastic employees, and a long list of clients, so I feel like it’s turning out extremely well.
MO: Congratulations on being named a Best Place to Work in the Bay Area for the past two years. What is unique about the RiseSmart company culture that makes it such a desirable place to work?
Sanjay: I believe that to build a world-class company, you need your our own corporate values and you need to live by those values. We created our values very early in our company’s existence, and they have helped us create our unique culture. The other thing we do is spend more time in hiring. We have defined characteristics someone should possess to be a RiseSmarter. We call them “RiseSmart FIT” elements, and they apply to everyone we consider hiring. If applicants don’t score high on them, they aren’t getting through the door. Lastly we have an employee recognition program called “High Five” in which anyone can reward a colleague with a High Five if they see him or her portraying the values of RiseSmart. All these things help us create a culture in which everyone values the contributions people make, respect each other, have fun working, and work cohesively together to achieve the desired results.
MO: You are clearly very well respected in your industry for being an innovator, a leader and someone who has helped change the outplacement industry for the better. As someone who serves as an inspiration to others, who inspires you?
Sanjay: I have always believed in taking the good things from a lot of people, and that goes for inspiration too. I have looked up to Steve Jobs for his attention to detail and driving the “wow” factor for customers. I admire Richard Branson’s entrepreneurial bent. I’m inspired by the passion I saw in my grandfather. He taught me about the value of the will to win and the importance of relentless pursuit.