The latest thinking, news and events from the world of Recruitment

Start–up with the Answer to Effective Graduate Recruitment


A 21-year-old undergraduate student still in the middle of his degree course at Oxford University, Nicholas Shekerdemian has created what is being touted as the future of entry-level recruitment; a simple, automated, one-stop solution that will integrate with existing corporate recruitment systems and ensure accurate, non-discriminatory job matching.

Nicholas, who co-founded Headstart App with experienced tech entrepreneur Jeremy Hindle, has not only attracted significant Angel funding from high profile investors (such as Tim Jones, former CEO of Coller Capital, and Thomas Bucaille, SVP HR at Ralph Lauren), but also the attention of several blue chip, beta-test clients including Vodafone.

Another leading organisation impressed by the potential of Headstart is AIG. The company’s Head of Campus Recruitment for EMEA, Catherine George, is enthusiastic:

“It isn’t often you encounter a truly unique new offering in the graduate recruitment market so, when you are faced with something as disruptive and innovative as Headstart, you have no choice but to be curious and jump on the bandwagon!”

The new company has also enticed other industry veterans to join its team including Derek Walker, the former Campus Recruitment Director for several leading investment banks (including Barclays Capital and Merrill Lynch) and Saqib Saddiq, a former Senior Consultant from SHL and IBM Kenexa. The company’s experienced advisory board also includes John Maxted, the founder and ex-CEO of leading HR recruitment consultancy, Digby Morgan.

Unlike rival platforms, Headstart App doesn’t rely solely on qualifications and work experience to filter applicants. Rather, it is a unique and innovative Applicant Matching System which creates a detailed ‘fingerprint’ for every applicant utilising neural networks and deep learning. This ‘fingerprint’ considers personality, interests, skills and demographic background as well as traditional criteria such as qualifications and experience. This allows students to apply quickly and simply for multiple jobs as themselves – via just one, highly personalised application – rather than applying as an artificial representation of what they think a company is looking for multiple times over. Headstart App’s machine learning algorithms continually work to match applicants with the best ‘fit’ internships and entry-level jobs pulling data from multiple online sources and asking students applicable questions using an AI powered ‘chat-bot.’

Unparalleled levels of diversity

Aside from offering companies huge commercial benefits through this fast, accurate and cost-effective method of recruitment, another significant attraction of the system is the unparalleled levels of diversity it ensures. The system educates and guides recruiters in order to help remove subconscious human bias, ranking candidates that truly best match any number of very specific requirements. Real time analytics mean that companies can tailor and amend requirements as the cycle progresses to continually ensure a best match.

Embracing technology to improve diversity is certainly high on the agenda for all of Headstart App’s corporate clients. In order to help ensure that diversity remains at the heart of its offering, Headstart App has also appointed the leading lawyer and #1 in The Financial Times 2015 Top 30 Global LGBT Future Leaders list, Aritha Wickramasinghe, as its diversity adviser.

Explaining why he has joined the team, Aritha said that:

“For too long businesses have used recruitment strategies that have left talented and skilled graduates – or even non-graduates – behind. Headstart App is about correcting that mistake; it’s about recruiting for the future.”

Best possible talent

Catalina Schveninger, Global Head of Resourcing and EVP at Vodafone said that:

“We are passionate about giving youth the opportunity to be at their best. Headstart App will enable us to attract the most talented graduates and match them with exciting job or rotational programme opportunities. We decided to pilot and support Headstart App in the UK market as we believe in the great potential this disruptive piece of tech has and we love the passion of the founders!”