Udemy Uses Searchlight's Behavioral Data to Hire High Performers while Reducing Time to Fill by 40%

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Global destination for online education both for consumers and for businesses


HQ in San Francisco Bay Area, with offices globally



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Udemy is the global destination for online education both for consumers and for businesses. They put upskilling and learning in their mission, product and values — as well as their talent acquisition strategy. Udemy partnered with Searchlight and saw a reduced time to hire coupled with an increased retention rate, while tripling the size of their team.

Key Wins

  • Udemy grew 3X while maintaining their high quality bar
  • Decreased time to fill by 40% by aligning hiring managers on success signals for open roles and identifying candidates that had predictive attributes
  • Increased first year retention by 20%

We can get candidates through the interview process 40% faster with Searchlight. Searchlight not only fixes the broken reference process, it educates my managers to make faster, data-driven decisions. Everyone that I’ve talked to loves having Searchlight’s information.

Elizabeth Shober-Smith

VP of Talent Acquisition


Elizabeth Shober-Smith believed her hiring managers could hire more effectively. As Udemy’s VP of Recruiting, she saw hiring managers spending a lot of time trying to understand candidates more fully — if they fit the role, how they worked, and whether they’d stay at the company long term. In 2019, the talent team’s average time to fill was 104 days, as hiring managers found it difficult to get the right signals on candidates, leading to inefficiencies and a lack of full confidence when making offers. Although their employee engagement and retention was strong, Udemy believed that there was room to improve.


Elizabeth believed improving their hiring relied on augmenting their processes with better data. Searchlight’s behavioral data and unique approach to understanding candidates’ competencies, culture alignment, strengths and gaps, and career interests stood out as the right solution. She decided to invite candidates to gather their references on Searchlight before on-site interviews. Elizabeth believed that Searchlight’s data would not only help hiring managers move more decisively to close the right candidates, but also have downstream effects on efficiency and retention.

The data is really helpful and people love it. I will never not have Searchlight. We get good insights that drive decisions and support information we get from interviews.

Cara Brennan Allamano

SVP People, Udemy


Hiring managers received rich behavioral data on their candidates within 36 hours of inviting their candidates to Searchlight. Searchlight’s structured, visual data enabled hiring managers to surface patterns and disprove or verify their interview feedback. Overall decision confidence and alignment improved. Many recruiters and hiring managers were surprised by the honesty and depth of the feedback that Searchlight provided on their candidates. Because many of them had never hada negative reference call in their life, Searchlight’s data reports were completely out-of-the-box from what they considered a reference check.

Searchlight helped Udemy decrease time to fill by 40%, while increasing their volume of offers by 4.8x, year over year. While their recruiting efficiency increased, Elizabeth said her team also became more confident they were making higher quality hires and were better prepared to set employees up for success.

The more Udemy’s team dug into Searchlight’s data, the more they realized it was a game-changer for recruiting effectiveness and creating a system for quality of hire. As Udemy continued to integrate Searchlight deeper into their recruiting and people analytics stack, their retention increased by 20%. “Searchlight adds so much depth of information for a reference,” said Rich Adao, Global Director of Recruiting. “You can not only use it to make a hiring decision, but also as a tool for the person’s growth plan after you’ve hired them.” Udemy started to use Searchlight’s data to onboard their new hires more effectively. Managers personalized their early conversations with new hires based on the signals Searchlight provided on strengths, gaps, career interests, and working styles.

“I’m most interested in the data,” said VP of Commercial Sales, David Wiedeman. “With Searchlight, our managers instantly know a couple of areas where they can coach a new hire from the get go, and the other areas where we can leverage that person’s strength from the start. We can paint a more accurate picture of the qualities of our high performers.”

Searchlight is the highest ROI in my hiring toolkit. The data is exceptionally useful to discuss during recruiting debriefs. Searchlight broadens our perspective on candidates so we make confident hiring decisions.

Tom Do

VP Engineering

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