Starting up: This tech company is tapping into professional networks to maximize exposure of job openings to candidates

Founder Summer Delaney says CollabWORK helps TA pros get their open positions in front of the right eyes.
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Summer Delaney

5 min read

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Summer Delaney is the founder and CEO of CollabWORK, a community-powered hiring platform that works to connect companies to referral-based talent pools and audiences at scale. Delaney said the tech taps into the hidden job market, where people are networking and discovering opportunities through professional peers. It was her own career trajectory in the news media over the course of “about a decade” that inspired Delaney to develop the tech.

“I’ve never got any of those jobs online, and I always got it through my community. They were primarily diversity affinity communities, so Facebook groups for women in media or email Listservs for women in tech,” she said. “A lot of communities I maybe only knew a dozen people, but I just inherently trusted the thousands of other members…There was some level of vetting of the quality of people in there.”

CollabWORK launched in March 2023. Though it began as a separate ATS, CollabWORK is now integrated into more than 40 systems across the TA landscape. It was a shift in focus that Delaney said was geared to meeting the needs of HR and TA professionals she spoke with. The tool uses AI to analyze the open roles and job descriptions and evaluate which communities the role would best fit and post the openings in those communities in the same authentic way members or a community moderator might. It then tags those candidate profiles back in the ATS.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What specific issue in HR does your company intend to solve?

Our solution primarily falls under both talent acquisition, DE&I, and recruitment marketing.

CollabWORK is addressing the significant challenge of sourcing quality and diverse talent at scale within the HR landscape. Despite substantial investments in DE&I efforts, companies struggle to efficiently connect with underrepresented talent pools at scale. CollabWORK aims to bridge this gap by leveraging community networks, artificial intelligence, and automation, creating a more inclusive and effective workforce.

What product or service does your company offer?

CollabWORK is the first community-powered hiring platform connecting companies to referral-based and underrepresented talent pools at scale. Integrated with 40-plus ATS, CollabWORK automatically distributes roles across 50-plus professional communities on platforms like Slack, Discord, newsletters, and others to decrease sourcing time by 66%.

CollabWORK’s AI- and tech-enabled platform connects companies to the “hidden job market,” where top-tier passive talent network, upskill, and find new opportunities. CollabWORK currently reaches over 600,000-plus vetted talent and has partnered with 35-plus businesses.

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What is the “hidden job market” your company is tapping into?

The hidden job market is where the best talent or networking and upskilling and discovering new opportunities. It is these Slack channels that might be focused on marketing professionals or a Discord server focused on product managers or a Facebook group focused on women who want to work in climate tech jobs. So, it’s really these communities…that really [have] the best candidates, even if you’re not actively looking.

It just so happens that a lot of these spaces also have a “jobs” or “hiring” channel or place where people post open roles...Informal networking referrals, that’s nothing new—they’re four times more likely to get hired. But I think what’s different about what we’re trying to do is it’s not just maybe the marketing department looking for marketing folks and using formal channels, or the legal department looking for new lawyers in a new Slack community. It’s really, how do we get the top-up talent acquisition and HR folks, who have all of the roles and oversight of the company, to automatically post these jobs through a variety of different functions and platforms to reach the best candidates.

How does CollabWORK handle posting in these closed communities in order to produce the same sort of high-level response a word-of-mouth or relational referral might?

We’ve partnered with [more than] 60 professional communities on Slack, Discord, email newsletters, Facebook groups, etcetera…We reach out to a community leader, we ask them to fill out a quick survey to understand who’s in your community, what types of jobs are relevant to them, either based on the function, [or] the industry or the job types. 

When we get a job in our database that’s relevant to that community, we automatically send it to that network. So, sometimes that can be through a bot in a Slack in the hiring channel. Sometimes it can be to the community manager to post organically. Actually for talent that signed up for [CollabWORK], they get alerts. So, it approaches people in different ways. I think the beauty of it [is] it feels authentic in that space you’re in, even though on the backend, we might be sending five jobs to find different communities and totally different in each one because we want to make sure we’re converting candidates to actually click on that job.

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Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.