ASU team finds success in Alliance for the American Dream finals
Enfuego Technologies uses artificial intelligence to optimize resumes and the job search process with the goal of increasing middle class incomes by at least 10%
Enfuego Technologies, a startup company based in Arizona, was provisionally awarded $500,000 from Schmidt Futures in the final round of the Alliance for the American Dream’s national competition. Their pitch was for their scalable software-as-a-service platform’s capability to streamline the job application process and instantly generate resumes customized to match any job description using its patent-pending Dynamic Content Resume feature.
“We are thrilled to have the support of Schmidt Futures and Arizona State University as we help job seekers in Arizona effectively market their skills and experiences and reclaim their financial independence,” said Paul Hughes, founder and president of Enfuego. “With more than 430,000 Arizonans receiving unemployment insurance benefits, this work takes on outsized importance in our postpandemic economic recovery efforts.”
In 2018, Schmidt Futures formed the Alliance for the American Dream with four public, R1An R1, or Research I, university is a category that the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education uses to indicate universities in the United States that engage in the highest levels of research activity. universities — Arizona State University, the Ohio State University, the University of Utah and the University of Wisconsin-Madison — to source solutions grounded in research to increase the net incomes of 10,000 local middle class households by 10%.
Built by a group led by Dragan Boscovic, research professor in ASU’s School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, Enfuego was selected and awarded for its demonstrated ability to help job seekers overcome application barriers to land interviews and, ultimately, jobs. Enfuego helps its users find employment that compensates better than the state’s unemployment insurance benefits. The platform also assists users in identifying and securing other professional opportunities that may offer enhanced employer-sponsored benefits like health insurance, retirement plans and other pretax benefits.
Enfuego’s approach to this challenge was validated in a six-month pilot study with the Arizona Department of Economic Security, which found that Enfuego helped 57% more job seekers find employment than the state’s existing systems. The pilot study also found that Enfuego users were 20% less likely to return for unemployment benefits, suggesting an improved “job fit.” Adopted statewide, Enfuego projects that it could save Arizona taxpayers $26 million per year in reduced unemployment insurance overhead.
“Enfuego helps job seekers overcome selection biases in hiring by producing error-free resumes that fully describe one’s skills and experiences, while accurately matching the job description,” said Andrew Nelson, senior director in the ASU Office of Applied Innovation. “This catalytic funding from the Alliance for the American Dream and Schmidt Futures will allow Enfuego to target its outreach and services to benefit those who have been left out of the prosperous American economy and those hardest hit by the pandemic.”
Additionally, the platform uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to provide critical feedback on an applicant’s competitiveness for the position and to identify missing skills; Enfuego’s "skills navigator" connects users to local and digital educational opportunities to acquire the missing skill(s) and increase their fit for the role, before they apply. These strategies allow Enfuego to improve the effectiveness of a job search while greatly reducing the time and effort required to navigate professional transitions.
“With application feedback — rarely, if ever, provided — job seekers may repeatedly and unknowingly make the same mistakes,” said Nelson. “By providing its users with application insights before they apply, Enfuego helps to demystify the job application process, something that benefits everyone from first-time job seekers to experienced professionals.”
Enfuego can also benefit employers across the country. Studies suggest that the total cost of hiring an employee (inclusive of costs such as job board fees, background checks, onboarding, career events and human resources time) averages about $4,100, not including the lost productivity of a position remaining unfilled. Results from the pilot study indicate that Enfuego efficiently matches candidates with jobs for which they are well suited, meaning they are less likely to vacate their position, providing employers a more stable workforce with less churn and fewer costly hires to make.
While the platform is available to any job seeker, Enfuego will initially work with implementation partners, like the Department of Economic Security, the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, veteran support organizations and advocacy groups to target its outreach to “job-ready” constituencies, including Arizonans who are unemployed and underemployed, transitioning out of the military, recent graduates entering the labor force and those who may need additional assistance to effectively market their skills and abilities in English. These groups meet several profile traits: They may aspire to join the middle class, be disadvantaged in marketing their skills in a professional context, know the date their career transition will take effect, have community support mechanisms and outreach protocols, and be eligible for federally subsidized training funds for upskilling.
“We know the devastating toll that a protracted job search can have on individuals, families and entire communities, and we want to put an end to it,” said Hughes. “Everyone who works at Enfuego has, at some point in their career, experienced the pain of a difficult professional transition. For us, this work is personal.”
Other teams that competed in the final round and received funding include a team from the Ohio State University that provides digital legal support for those with criminal records, a team from the University of Utah working on mental health interventions for college students and employees, and two teams from the University of Wisconsin-Madison that provide a health care coordination platform and a mobile platform that helps users assess career opportunities.
About Schmidt Futures
The Alliance for the American Dream is supported by Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt that finds exceptional people and helps them do more for others together. Schmidt Futures knits talent into networks, bets on the most promising ideas through diverse forms of competition and support, and equips people to scale through partners and modern tools.
ASU is a founding member of the alliance along with the Ohio State University, the University of Utah and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Learn more at americandream.asu.edu.
Please direct all inquiries about ASU’s participation in the alliance to Andrew Nelson, senior director for shared prosperity: 480-727-3491 or firstname.lastname@example.org.