Building the Rivi Apps Team

To date, we have heavily utilized third party consulting and contract resources in our efforts around data analytics and matching algorithms  We’ve always had strong recruiters at Riviera, and the technology tools we’ve been building have been largely in support of that core user base.  However, as part of our ongoing effort to build out a broad technology platform to extend to our client and candidate customers, we realized that we needed to build out our own in-house development team--one that could bring stronger, more dedicated core technology expertise to  our existing domain expertise. And thus came the beginning of our efforts to grow the Rivi Apps Team, otherwise known as RATs.

Although the algorithms originally developed by eAlchemy got us off to a great start, we wanted to expand what we were doing and go much deeper, including extending the suite applications to the other two key constituencies in the marketplace. The only way to get to the next level was to bring on team members to continue building what we had started as well as aid in the effort to broaden the role of technology in the overall service delivery model we are pursuing.

Our initial efforts on this front were very similar to many of our emerging growth clients. On an opportunistic basis, we hired a few people to augment the efforts of our outside consultants with the goal of slowly beginning the process of moving overall product development in-house. In this manner, we added our first couple of RATs, who were instrumental in furthering our initial efforts on Sutro 4.0, and helped start the thinking on an extension of the app suite. They continue to be key contributors to the growing team of RATs scurrying around Riviera these days.

While we were making good, consistent progress with the hybrid approach to development, we had a strong desire--and a growing confidence level--to accelerate more aggressively. Since we advise companies and clients on this dynamic on a daily basis, we decided to take some of our own advice and seek out a leader for the team.

Through the course of efforts we conduct for clients on an everyday basis, we were fortunate to meet Majed Itani. In an initial discussion with one of our co-founders Ali, it became very apparent to both sides that there was a strong alignment on the opportunity for change in the talent acquisition market. Majed also recognized that strategic advantage that Riviera brought to the pursuit of the opportunity given the significant amount of domain expertise within the organization. He brings significant experience to this role, not the least of which revolves around building teams, which we would be doing from nearly scratch, as well as relevant expertise from his domain expertise in the CRM world.

Says Majed: "Recruiters have traditionally been very good about sifting through the top layer of engineers to find talent, but by adding tech we are empowering them to find the diamonds in the rough. Beyond that, we are enabling them to establish long lasting relationships with people who are still early in their careers, but who will one day be the leaders of the industry."

With Majed on board, we quickly shifted to priority #1: building out the team. As we advise our clients, we used a variety of sources for this effort. We utilized personal networks, we utilized Riviera networks, including on ongoing partnership with organizations such as Women Who Code, and we focused on building a team--fit is critical. We also were very open to what individuals brought to the table in terms of advancing our effort. We bet on people and bet on potential, and the results have truly surpassed our expectations.

Now we’re running strong with a team of 10 people, with plans to add more--all totally dedicated to building out our technology. We are already working on Sutro 5.0, and Snap, our client application, is now in beta release. And we have begun the planning process around an app for candidates that our engineers themselves would want to use.

Job Club: Resources for All Your Career Needs

Job hunting is a lot easier when you know all the tricks of the trade, and that’s what you’ll learn from the Job Club MeetUp series. The series is hosted by Wendy Saccuzzo, a Career Development Specialist and Community Manager at Riviera, who offers insight into trends in the job search space. The goal of Job Club is for job seekers to gather information and resources about specific topics related to job search. Wendy spends 25 minutes on a specific job search related topic, offers resources for the job seekers, and handles Q&A with attendees on any questions or concerns they have about their job search or career development.

Online Webinars

Organizing Your Job Search on Monday  |  April 27th at 12:30pm


Personal Brand on Wednesday   |  April 29 at 12:30pm


Cover Letters and Resumes on Wednesday  |  May 6 at 12:30pm


Interviews  |  May 20 at 12:30pm


Job Search, Social Media & Building Your Personal Brand  |  May 27 at noon-1:30pm


In-Person Seminars

Job Search, Social Media & Building Your Personal Brand  |  May 7 at 4-6pm


Salary and Negotiation  |  May 14 at noon-1pm


CNBC - Pentagon woos Silicon Valley talent

Cybersecurity is a top concern for the US government, which is why the Pentagon is launching a new initiative to recruit engineers. But there's the little problem of budget, and competing with heavily-funded start-ups that can offer top talent seven figures a year--plus all those start-up perks. Rivi Partner Sam Wholley went on NBC to discuss the challenges. Check it out here.

Sam Wholley CNBC


To Scale or Not To Scale: Why We Needed a Matching Algorithm

Talk to nearly any recruiter and they’ll tell you that a large part of their successes come from match-making performed in their head. Throughout a recruiter’s career, they can expect to interact with thousands of candidates while simultaneously managing a multitude of clients. From the continual churn alone, effective recruiters will learn to identify key attributes and indicators that best inform client-candidate matching--but it will take the average tenured recruiter at least a year to perfect this craft, and it’s a laborious process for even experienced recruiters.

In our quest for full-stack recruiting, this isn’t good enough. In order to scale, we are utilizing the power of our technology to drive the preliminary matching process. Through Sutro we are collecting data, feeding our scoring algorithms, and then generating suggested matches via our matching algorithms. Sutro is optimizing much of the manual burden (and minimizing recruiter bias) from the process by suggesting matches based on candidate and client attributes, and then presenting them to the recruiters for review. Instead of arduously creating perceived matches, our recruiters are now verifying and approving data-backed matches. So not only can new recruiters catch on quickly, but seasoned ones can work even more efficiently.

Sutro’s matching algorithms allow us to get to a conversation much more quickly around specific candidates who might be the best fit--not just a fit. Expediting this process on the recruiter’s end naturally segues to improved speed and efficiency around closing a search. For example, more than half of the candidates who get hired for a role are identified by a Riviera recruiter in a month or less. By reducing the time upfront making “the find,” we can focus more time advising both the client and candidate during the discovery and validation process that each party goes through. Considering the demand for talented leaders in current market conditions, we’re seeing that the bulk of a project’s timeframe is attributed to the steps in the process beyond identifying a strong candidate. However, through matching, recruiters are empowered to take more of a consultative and advisory role than a search and find role.

Since the adoption of our internally developed technology, we are seeing metrics across the recruiting funnel that indicate early success at a greater scale. Through enhanced sourcing capabilities, we are able to tactically reach more people. With greater reach, better curation abilities through scoring and matching, and more transparency through the sharing of data, we are able to present more qualified candidates than ever before. Even at this scale, we're maintaining record completion rates--despite a 40% increase in volume of searches over the past 3 years.

Sutro provides firm-wide transparency and interaction of matching between clients and candidates. Eventually, the platform will offer tools that offer similar transparency to clients and candidates. And of course, none of this would be possible without our dedicated team of engineers.

Rivi Teams Up with The Leaderboard for the Rails Challenge

We’re nothing if not passionate about career development here at Rivi, which is why we partner with many organizations and initiatives that provide engineers with ways to improve and show off their skills. Recently, we’ve joined forces with The Leaderboard--brainchild of Nick Kellermeyer and Jeff Lunt--on the Rails Challenge, a coding challenge that began as a concept for finding undiscovered Rails talent and getting them a job. The challenge involves building a complete Rails app to spec from some starter code, and more than 400 developers submitted interest in the days leading up the challenge.

A panel of judges (currently confidential) will select three winners from all the competitors, and then Rivi will work with the winners on finding a new position. Competitors also have the opportunity to win schwag from one of the challenge sponsors. The challenge is now officially live and will be running until April 26. For more information (or to sign up), visit the Rails Challenge website.

Why Google Vets Aren’t Attracted to Your Startup

No doubt, Google finds some of the best talent, and they often spend years nurturing that talent. It’s no wonder nearly every startup in existence wants a Google veteran on its team. But growing up inside of Google--or other huge companies like Facebook or LinkedIn--isn’t necessarily an ideal characteristic for a potential hire. These people are certainly some of the smartest people working in tech, but the environment they’re used to doesn’t reflect the reality of most tech companies. Plus, those people aren’t likely to leave for a startup anyway. Here’s why (and where to look instead).

Google compensation

These guys are making seven figures. We’re talking 1.5 to 3 million dollars a year at the mid levels of leadership.  If you're a Series A or B, you need to give them more than a point of equity and exit at over a billion to equate back to what they're walking away from. To really get someone to leave a seven figure salary for your opportunity, you need to offer about three times the amount in equity. Say they’re set to make $12 million over four years--you need to serve up the potential to make $30 million in equity.

And there’s no guarantee. In four years, they could make the same than they would have anyway, or they could walk away with next to nothing. Although there has been an uptick in billion dollar companies of late, there aren’t very many overall--just 73 out of thousands of startups. Those aren’t very good odds. If the person you’re going after is in fact the risk-taking type, chances are they're more likely to start their own companies. If they start their own company and raise one round of capital at $20 million, it results in a bigger payout than the 1-2% they’d get at someone else’s startup. So unless you can convince them you’re the next unicorn, chances are you’re wasting your time going after them.

Google employees have limitless resources

Google veterans are accustomed to having access to essentially unlimited resources and funds, and they’re dealing with technology problems at immense scale. Scaling down to a startup is sometimes tough, unless it’s a person who came in through an acquisition and thus has the startup life imprinted on his or her brain. And it’s not even just the resources it takes to get a project done. On a visit to the campus, one employee complained to me that the fall blend of coffee just wasn’t up to par with the summer blend. This is just the type of amenities they’re used to.

Failure at Google isn’t as dire

Within Google, if a project fails, chances are you get reassigned to another project at the company. The failure is more than likely a miniscule blip on the overall Google radar. Failure at a startup is much different. You have to answer to shareholders, you feel the burden of letting coworkers down, and you may very well lose your job. Which sounds more appealing? For those that have never worked at a startup, the easy choice is to stick with the comfortable position with a safety net.

But all is not lost

For the most part, these observations only apply to someone who has been working at Google pretty much his or her entire career. Someone who works for a company that was acquired by Google (see: Nest) would be a good target. Not only do these individuals have the chops to handle a startup, they were part of a company that was successful enough to be bought by Google. It’s a win-win.

In general, it’s best not to focus on hiring people only from the majors. Sure, there’s a great concentration of talent, but remember that there’s a plethora of other great organizations to pull from. Rather than focusing on brand, focus on the individual and what he or she can bring to your team.

Sutro's Algorithms and the Beauty of Scoring

Data today is becoming increasingly valuable in practically all consumable shapes and forms--and the world of recruiting is no exception. For Riviera, we use Sutro as our own powerful data aggregation platform, continually collecting and classifying data from external and internal databases. The data empowers our recruiters to make better matching decisions by presenting real-time, data-driven profile insights. But aggregation is only part of the story. As inbound data is repeatedly fed to Sutro, our powerful algorithms are digesting it all and feeding back useful findings to our team.

Utilizing the algorithms initially developed by our friends at eAlchemy, we’ve put together a workflow where candidate and company profiles in our system are automatically scored against sets of distinctive scales. We utilize a variety of other algorithms that score based on activities and trends, and as we obtain more data, we’re refining and building new algorithms.

While this may seem trivial at first glance, these algorithms incorporate meticulous methodologies using each data point collected to score individualized profiles at a macro level. This is hugely important because all of this information used to be compiled manually on a case-by-case basis; now, we are automating some of the most labor-intensive pieces of the sourcing process. The time saved by our recruiters is then spent curating candidate profiles and contributing a level of insight that a machine simply can’t.

One of the most important factors in our scoring efforts is the interactions we capture throughout the recruiting life cycle. Information that cannot be gleaned through analyzing online profiles and company databases is gathered through direct communication between recruiters, candidates and companies. As such, our goal is to capture every encounter we have with both companies and candidates so that they can be incorporated into our profile scoring.

The benefit of scoring is twofold. First, it allows us to quickly identify standout candidates, regardless of specific role. We also use it as a filtering mechanism for specific roles. Using these scores, we can sort query results based on different factors. For example, if a client requires their next leader to have been involved in a company that achieved a specific outcome (e.g. IPO), we can instantly narrow the candidates down to those who have been involved in those types of outcomes at prior companies. If demonstrated ability to scale teams is another key criteria, we can also filter based on that dynamic.

Because we’ve incorporated the lift from our algorithmic scoring formulas into Sutro, we have seen increased leverage in our business, which has led to better service and experiences for our customers. This has been substantiated by the feedback we are seeing from the customer base. Now, our recruiters are spending more time interacting with clients and candidates rather than simply searching through profiles and manually matching based on what they might think is best. This also provides the benefit of allowing all recruiters and--by extension--all clients and candidates to benefit from the data that we are aggregating and assessing. And of course, our scoring algorithms are a critical component in our matching algorithm, which is the final technology-based step in finding the best fit between clients and candidates.

The Etiquette of Leaving Your Job

Very few of us get in on the ground floor of our dream job at our dream company and stay there forever. The vast majority of people will leave at least one job in their lifetimes, and as with most things, there’s proper etiquette for doing so. For one, take care not to burn bridges.  Here are some more do's and don’ts to help you navigate the waters of transitioning jobs.

Do secure another job before leaving your current one--you are more marketable when employed. More importantly, don’t leave your old job until you have a firm commitment (and ideally a start date) with your new employer. The last thing you want is to give up a solid position for a wishy-washy offer that ends up falling through.

Also, this one may seem obvious, but it’s worth repeating: do give two weeks’ notice to your former employer if at all possible.  Most employers today will not require you to stay (depending on your line of work), but it reflects positively on you if you uphold your commitments.

Do treat your supervisor and coworkers with respect when leaving the role, no  matter the circumstances; you never know when you might need a reference or when and where your paths may cross in the future. On that same tip, don’t talk negatively about your employer in interviews or with a new employer.  Word travels and even in a new role, you’re still likely in a probationary period if you’ve just started. Plus, wouldn’t you rather put positive energy into the universe?

Do update your  social  media profiles with your new role and company information, but don’t forget to verify with your new employer what verbiage they prefer and what the timeline should be for that announcement. And don’t forget to connect with former supervisors and colleagues on LinkedIn so they are in your network.

Finally--and this is an important one--don’t neglect taking a few days to recharge your batteries and reflect on your goals for this next step in your career.  Start the new role with your best self, ready to go.

Wendy Saccuzzo is a Career Development Specialist and Community Manager, and helps build engineering teams.  If you have questions for Wendy, email her at

Using Data to Drive the Industry Forward

While coming to the decision to develop Sutro in-house, we discovered the inherent limitations with 3rd party ATS systems. They’re limited in the data they collect, they remain heavily focused on the resume, they do not effectively aggregate internal and external data, and most importantly, they don’t do anything other than act as a repository of the data for use exclusively by the recruiter.

Sutro puts us on the path to address all of these limitations. We are already using it to aggregate our internally gathered as well as web-based and paid databases for companies and candidates. We are using algorithms to provide insights from that data aggregation, and creating a level of transparency that simply was not available with a 3rd party ATS. All of this allows us to work towards the best possible matches between clients and candidates.

To keep our internal data robust, Sutro captures every single activity and interaction as well as individual user data for all the companies and candidates we interact with. We spend significant time and effort working on how we categorize and classify our internally collected data to ensure it is appropriately factored into our scoring algorithms. And we’re constantly working on making this data as accessible to recruiters as possible to allow them to make the most relevant recommendations possible to our customers.

Like many others, we also collect data from external sources, one of the most well-known being LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great networking tool, but in terms of recruiting, it is primarily a resume surrogate. There is no doubt that it is becoming the definitive source of employment history, essentially replacing the resume. However, when it comes to employment matching, LinkedIn doesn’t really know that much about anyone, whether it’s the company or the people. It provides a way to make introductions, but it doesn’t have the ability to assess or match people with jobs in a meaningful way. It merely provides the raw data, which requires further analysis to be valuable.

At Rivi, we’re not just using LinkedIn--it’s just one spoke in the wheel to be truly intelligent in search and matching. Everyone has a presence on the web, so we’ve created efficient ways to collect data from both free and paid sources. This is important because each dataset provides different information. For instance, one source may provide data on skillsets or attributes of a candidate, while a company research resource such as CB Insights offers a way for us to assess and make judgments on companies. This is all then meshed with our proprietary data to provide our recruiters with the insights to make great matches.

This aggregation and blending of data from internal input and external sources is an essential factor for us to reach our goal of providing a true end-to-end experience.