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From a co-working space in San Francisco, GILD co-founder and CEO Sheeroy Desai spends much of each day fielding calls from recruiters and hiring managers working for some of the most established names in the Silicon Valley.
And each day, the former chief operating officer at Sapient (s SAPE) listens to the same lament from the men and women looking to recruit computer programmers for positions in the U.S. and around the world.
“We can’t find people.”
With so many skilled coders in the world, and so much technology available to make communicating easy regardless of location, the complaint is a head scratcher. And Desai knows it.
“It seems crazy, it really does. In today’s world with all the information we have, finding people shouldn’t be that hard,” Desai says. “Yet it is. And every single company complains about the same thing.”
It’s true. Finding resumes has become a lot easier. Put an add up on Craigslist and you will get flooded with resumes. Go on LinkedIn (s LNKD) and you will find millions upon millions of resumes with keywords and recommendations.
But finding out who actually understand the concepts employers need is, apparently, a whole different story.
“That’s were the rub is. Who are the ones who actually meet the need?,” Desai says. “You need a proof point. That’s why everything works on referrals and word of mouth, which is insane.”
Launched less than a year ago, GILD is a site for computer programmers and other tech professionals that combines social gaming with job search and career advancement. Programmers from around the world can see where they stack up against each other in skills like Java, HTML, C++. They can enter free contests for prizes like iPads (s aapl), or take free certification tests and amass medals that showcase their skills to colleagues and potential employers.
Most users view GILD as a professional development/social networking service. But it’s also a provider of soft recruitment. Companies like Oracle (s ORCL), Salesforce.com (CRM), eBay (s EBAY) sponsor competitions on the site. And recruiters can use a back-end system to comb the database for users who are top performer in a range of difference skills.
While companies like LinkedIn are focused on tackling the recruiting problem from the lens of “Who do they know?,” GILD is tackling the problem by answering a different question—”What do they know?”
Desai believes the concepts behind GILD could flip the recruiting game on its head. While almost every tech company does some sort of testing, there absolutely no standard. And there’s a larger issue. “The testing happens once you already short stack people. That’s where the power lies. You should be interviewing five people who already have the skills.”