According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment in the United States has soared to 14 percent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With more than 40 million Americans out of work, an unprecedented number of people are finding themselves in a position where they can look for a more meaningful or fulfilling job than the one they had before.
PAIRIN, a hiring and education startup out of Denver, is in a position to help. The company announced Wednesday it has raised $2.1 million, the first tranche of an ongoing Series A funding round, which it will use to develop its platform and grow its team.
The company’s platform is called My Journey and it was designed to connect individuals — especially students and disadvantaged people — with career, education and support services like unemployment.
Using data from government agencies and employers, the software helps guide users toward a job and career they actually want, no matter their age or history. Users simply select their desired outcomes, and My Journey will provide the recommended actions needed to achieve those goals. The platform also helps users identify their soft skills — such as leadership and communication — where they have room to grow and what resources and tools they can use to achieve that growth.
“I want to change the way that candidates are considered, I want them to be considered for their abilities rather than their history,” CEO and co-founder Michael Simpson told Built In. “I don’t think hiring is very equitable right now, or even very effective, because it focuses not on people’s abilities, but on what they have on a piece of paper. If we can take that data that we have, we can transform education and workforce for those that are preparing for those jobs. We have this virtuous cycle of information and data that can change the generational path, potentially, for millions of people.”
For Simpson, it’s personal. He says he wasn’t able to follow the more traditional educational path and, as a result, found it difficult to get the jobs he wanted in the tech industry.
“Fortunately, there were some people who helped develop my skills and gave me opportunities, but I don’t want people to have to go through what I went through and find themselves constantly trying to prove their value,” Simpson said. So he encourages companies to prioritize hiring people with diverse backgrounds, even in this economically difficult time.
“Giving people a chance allows you to hire more loyal employees that will be there twice as long or three times as long, statistically, than recent college graduates,” Simpson explained. “Just because the market is no longer tight, does not mean that you shouldn’t continue that practice. Invest not just in the easy hire, but invest in the hire that is more meaningful. That will communicate the character of your company.”
PAIRIN was founded in 2012 and has been rapidly expanding its services throughout Colorado amid the pandemic. The company has about 30 employees right now and plans to grow by about 33 percent in the next year, filling engineering, design and project management roles. By 2021, the company expects to be cash flow positive and have double its current number of employees.