As a growth equity investor at New York-based private equity firm Bregal Sagemount, Kirk Smith is wired to look for high-impact companies that maximize untapped opportunity, focusing on those that are primed for accelerated organic growth or perhaps a transformative acquisition.
It’s not surprising that Kirk, along with two colleagues, recently applied their trained eyes for scouting opportunities within Bregal Sagemount itself, and proposed that the company take advantage of new, disruptive approaches to hiring talent. Amid the intensifying race for top talent, they also wanted to achieve greater diversity within their investment team and decided to build from the ground up, beginning with summer internship recruitment.
According to Kirk, “Historically, we relied on internal networks to recruit interns. That meant we leaned on what we knew…favoring students from our alma maters and seeking referrals from people already close to us. This wasn’t going to get us the diversity of perspective we wanted.”
It also did not allow them to look deeper into candidates’ relevant skills for the job at hand — screening the attractiveness of potential investments. Kirk further acknowledged the burden of inefficiency, “We wasted hundreds of valuable staff-hours reviewing resumes of candidates that weren’t right for the role.”
Traditional recruiting services fell into the same pattern of telling them what they already knew by simply mining thin, degree-focused resume data, resulting in a small group of internship seekers who were substantially similar to the current staff. Worse, since their peer firms were using the same approach, competition was fierce to hire the desirable candidates yielded by this process.
When the Bregal Sagemount team learned there was a way to hire based on richer, relevant skills-based data and a candidate’s intrinsic potential, they jumped at the opportunity to connect with Skillful.ly.
Bregal Sagemount’s leadership sought greater diversity within their investment team.
After a short discovery meeting, Skillful.ly translated the internship job description into a set of measurable skill sets such as Industry Research, Quantitative Analysis and SWOT Analysis. Skillful.ly then evaluated its community of Skillful.ly platform users, who are drawn from non-profit and academic partner organization relationships and are specifically trained in workplace simulations of the targeted skills that Bregal Sagemount desired in its interns.
Skillful.ly presented Bregal Sagemount with an anonymized suite of highly skilled-to-the-role candidates who were collectively sourced from a talent pool far more diverse than their investment team (79% female, 71% from under-represented groups and 78% from previously non-targeted universities). The team decided whom they wished to interview, and ended up making an offer to their preferred Skillful.ly candidate.
The process took about 60 days, 50% faster than in the past, and well under the cost — both staff time and budget — previously dedicated to intern recruitment.
What made the biggest impact, however, was reviewing Skillful.ly’s candidate profiles, which quantify specific technical skills (each cited as percentage of fluency or proficiency), as well as deep, data-backed insights from Skillful.ly’s behavioral and neurocognitive assessments. Said Kirk, “We’re numbers people, and it’s just easier to hire with confidence when you see these scores.”
Kirk summed up his experience this way: “Just as with managing a deal funnel, we realized that we needed to apply a similar mentality to building our future investment team. This is a long game and we’re putting in the effort toward discovering and developing the skilled and diverse staff we desire. It’s just the first step in our plans to apply skills-based recruitment for additional types of roles. ”