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How a Checkr Hack Week Project Using the Grammarly Text Editor SDK Is Leading to a Fairer Future

Updated on January 4, 2023Customer Story
Abstract graphic that includes the Checkr and Grammarly logos

Don’t you love when you get time to hack on a problem using a technology you’ve been wanting to try? I recently learned how Chris Schuhmacher, a full-stack software engineer at Checkr, used his company’s hack week to solve a customer problem and tinker with the brand-new Grammarly Text Editor SDK, and I knew I needed to share this story with you. 

In this post, I’ll introduce you to Checkr (their mission is super inspirational!), how Chris found time to solve a problem for Checkr’s users with the Text Editor SDK, and how Chris’s team is evaluating the success of using the SDK in their app.

Hear Chris tell the story in his own words and see a demo of the Grammarly Text Editor SDK in Checkr.

Checkr’s inspirational mission

Background checks are a common part of the hiring process. Checkr provides employers with easy-to-use and efficient background-checking services. What impressed me about Checkr is that they aren’t solely focused on speeding up the background checking process—they are on a mission to “build a fairer future by designing technology to create opportunities for all.”

One of the ways Checkr is realizing its mission is through the Candidate Stories feature in background checks. When a record appears on a candidate’s background check, the hiring company can request that the candidate share their story. This allows the candidate to provide context about the record, potentially allowing a candidate who may have otherwise been immediately disqualified a chance to move forward in the hiring process.

How Candidate Stories gives candidates with records a chance to share their stories

The problem: Written communication is hard

Let’s get back to Chris, a software engineer at Checkr. Chris noticed that candidates were adding their stories when the hiring companies requested them, but many of the candidates’ stories were short, incomplete, and filled with spelling and grammar mistakes. Candidates needed to share compelling stories that resonated with hiring companies, but their written communication was holding them back. This felt especially unfair in situations where written communication was not a core job responsibility. 

Kelsey from the TV show Younger says: That’s not fair.

Chris wanted to find a way to help job candidates communicate effectively. He did a little googling and discovered the Grammarly Text Editor SDK. Chris is a longtime fan of Grammarly for Chrome, so he knew he wanted to find a way to try the SDK. With a backlog full of other high-priority items, finding time to experiment with the SDK was going to be challenging.

Finding time to tinker during hack week

About two months later, Checkr hosted their annual hack week, where members of the Engineering team were given free rein to hack on whatever they wanted for an entire week. This was the opportunity Chris had been waiting for. 

Chris pitched his project idea of adding Grammarly’s communication assistance technology to Candidate Stories. Software engineers Corina Allen, Vanessa Chen, and Michael Royski joined him to work on the project.

Chris and his team members love working in React, so they began experimenting with the Grammarly Text Editor SDK for React. They were delighted when they were able to add Grammarly suggestions to Candidate Stories on the first day of hack week. 

They spent the rest of the week diving into the various configuration options for the SDK. They discovered they could use the SDK to get stats about a candidate’s story: things like word count, readability score, and reading time. They decided to display these stats to candidates so that candidates could get an idea of how long it might take a hiring manager to read their story and if their writing would be easy to understand. 

The team also discovered the SDK’s tone detector and decided to include it in their prototype. The tone detector helps writers ensure that the tone they are conveying is the one they intend. Chris’s team hypothesized that adding the tone detector to Candidate Stories would lead to better outcomes for candidates. 

Screenshot of the Candidate Story interface with Grammarly suggestions

The enhanced Candidate Story prototype, complete with Grammarly suggestions, stats about the text, and the tone detector

The team built a splashy four-minute video demo that the audience loved. At the end of hack week, over 60 teams presented their projects and only two have been selected to move to production so far. Chris and his team were thrilled to learn that their project was the second to be selected for production! 

Evaluating the success of the Text Editor SDK

The Grammarly Text Editor SDK has been live in Checkr’s Candidate Stories feature for a little over three months, and they are already seeing overwhelmingly positive results. 

Chris recently checked the usage dashboard for his Grammarly for Developers app and was thrilled to see that candidates have addressed (accepted the suggestion or resolved the issue through editing) over 74% of the suggestions Grammarly has provided. Candidates are finding Grammarly’s communication assistance valuable!

Screenshot of the Words analyzed, Suggestions shown, Suggestions breakdown, and Suggestion engagement charts on the Grammarly for Developers usage dashboard

Charts from the Grammarly for Developers usage dashboard

Based on a 90-day pre/post-integration analysis, the Grammarly Text Editor SDK has increased the effectiveness rate of Candidate Stories by 17%. 😲 Grammarly’s mission is to improve lives by improving communication, and we love seeing tangible evidence that Checkr has been able to improve candidates’ lives by using the SDK to improve their communication.

Wrapping up

Chris saw an opportunity for improvement in Checkr and discovered that the Grammarly Text Editor SDK could be part of the solution. With a backlog full of tasks with competing priorities, he worked with a team to use Checkr’s hack week to build a prototype. Checkr’s execs were impressed and decided to move the feature from prototype to production, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive. You can learn more about Candidate Stories on Checkr’s website

In the future, Chris’s team plans to begin analyzing stats about candidates’ stories, like the word count, readability score, and reading time. They are curious if any of these factors are correlated with a hiring company choosing to move a candidate forward in the hiring process. Their goal is to give candidates hints to improve their stories.

I hope you’ll join Chris and me for a live stream on Wednesday, January 18, 2023. Chris will show us the Candidate Stories feature and answer your questions. Register for the live stream, and I’ll send you a calendar invitation. 🗓

If, like Chris, you’d like to tinker with the SDK, you can get started today. It only takes a few minutes to register and use the SDK in your app. 

We’d love to hear your story about how you added the SDK to your app or how the SDK has helped your users. You can share your story in the Grammarly for Developers community on GitHub.

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