On September 9, 2021, Amit Shanbhag and Andrew Tso were interviewed by Susan Bauer, the Executive Director of the Shevet Glaubach Center for Career Strategy and Professional Development at Yeshiva University.
As the Executive Director of the Shevet Glaubach Center for Career Strategy and Professional Development, the results-oriented and data-driven career center at Yeshiva University, I needed a solution for sourcing real-time information on employers and alumni who hire our students. I already have a premium LinkedIn account and utilize LinkedIn Recruiter; however, no matter how detailed and advanced search I perform, it will never yield the contact information of a member without him or her being a 1st connection.
Through a referral, I was introduced to Andrew Tso and Amit Shanbhag, the co-founders of RocketReach, and we quickly realized we could all benefit from a partnership.
Amit and Andrew started RocketReach in 2016 after meeting and working together at the professional social network, Showcase. They quickly realized that even with all the publicly available social information, social networking sites only provide a limited view of a person. The problem for them to solve was how to make a connection to the person behind the social profile. According to Andrew, “We created RocketReach to do just that – there are tools to connect directly to people rooted in public social information. If you look at a LinkedIn profile, we are the alternative to InMail and with a guaranteed result.”
When the SGC team reaches out to employers on behalf of students, it is critical to know the current title, discipline area and company of an alumnus/a as people are continually changing jobs and taking on new areas of responsibility within their companies. Equally important is how to contact these people. Like companies once hired to perform cold calls and send direct mailers to gather potential customer contact information, career services professionals have been relying on sourcing alumni employer information from data provided by students when they graduate or via LinkedIn.
With a tool like RocketReach, however, employers and those alumni in positions to hire students can be targeted quickly and accurately for engagement purposes. The often aggressive recruiting cycles within industries hiring students do not allow time for career services professional to source contact data on employers or alumni when a student has an interview or impending offer on the table. The SGC now uses RocketReach to source this real-time information in seconds to gain additional inputs from someone already working at the hiring company.
Another way to utilize these data is to increase the knowledge rate of a university’s post-graduation outcomes survey. Boasting a 95% placement rate is only as valuable as the survey knowledge rate behind it. When only 15% of graduating students respond to a survey focused on post-graduation destination information, a very high “placement” rate does not hold much value.
We now have the chance to source and use the new email of a recent graduate rather than the college email used while a student, which is often no longer active. In collecting data on new programs for the Katz School of Science and Health, we were able to reach 70% of international student graduates of whom we did not have future contact information at graduation. These data contribute directly to our sourcing of post-graduation student outcomes.
When asked what sets them apart from their competitors, Amit talked about companies with similar data sets. “Over the years we have invested heavily in data quality,” he noted. “If you look at the completion rate of the data or the accuracy of the data and monitor that constantly, the process has improved over the years to the point where we think we are the best.”
He then explained that there are two major ways of getting these data. One way of getting the data is manual and with a process that is not scalable. One would need a huge workforce to get this done. “With RocketReach, we use data science for almost all of our data generation, and that allows us to cover the vast majority of the 400 million professionals that are out there. The other major advantage is that we can do this in real time, even enabling one to hover over the data to see the last time it was checked and refreshed.”
In 2016, the big players in this space according to Amit were Dun & Bradstreet and Zoominfo, very large SaaS companies. “If you wanted to get access to this data set, you had to buy a $20,000 license. On the other end were those companies offering data for $10 and $20 monthly subscriptions. Not only was the data quality terrible, but the workflows also to get the data and the usability were as well.
RocketReach fell somewhere in the middle, which provided a lot of traction. Today, they offer a free lookup for up to five people since they want to be a public resource for those only needing to look up one or two connections. Many students use RocketReach in this manner, and Amit and Andrew have hired people to work at RocketReach who had reached out to them directly once they viewed the job posting, using RocketReach as the conduit to source the direct contact information. Admittedly, “there already is a use case for those working in alumni affairs within the education arena to source data on those who have graduated,” according to Amit and Andrew.
Yeshiva University is now the use case for those working in career services.