Surehand is a hiring platform that instantly matches industrial employers with best-fit tradespeople. It’s all about creating a better hiring experience for both recruiters and workers in which the chat feature plays an essential role.

To learn about how Surehand uses the TalkJS chat API to power thousands of conversations, we had a talk with Nicholas Smith, the co-founder, and Chief Product Officer.

“The fact that we could use TalkJS when we evolved to a React Native app was really helpful. Otherwise, we would have been forced to reinvent the wheel with a different solution, which would have been a large opportunity cost for us.”
– Nicholas Smith, the Co-founder & CPO

About Surehand

Nicholas and his co-founder Christopher wanted to create a platform where tradespeople wouldn’t have to spend down time updating resumes, searching job boards in vain or worrying about landing the next employment opportunity. And recruiters or hiring manager in the industrial sector wouldn’t have to struggle to find the best-fit trades talent for open positions or projects.

“We help industrial employers find and engage skilled trades talent up to 90% faster than traditional channels, at a fraction of the cost. Over 25K skilled industrial workers are already on Surehand (and growing…).”Christopher Brenchley, Co-founder & CEO

The two of them have 40 years’ combined experience using technology to help people of all ages excel in the classroom, the workplace, or on the job site, and are deeply committed to reducing industrial labor shortages and underemployment in the skilled trades—and in a sense revolutionise how work finds workers and workers find work.

The challenge

Surehand wanted to connect employers and tradespeople with a native chat feature, so they don’t have to switch to email or third-party messaging apps. From a product standpoint, they needed a way to allow employers to reach out to workers synchronously, but with an asynchronous backup without revealing the workers’ personal information, email, phone number, etc.

From a technical perspective, they needed a chat API that would work well with their codebase and the React framework. Also, the API needed to have the capability to deploy the chat feature both on the web app and the React Native mobile app.

While coming up with the chat solution, the product team from Surehand had some reservations about embedding 3rd party messaging software. They thought of it as inherently risky because they would be relying on another company having total control of an essential part of their hiring platform.

The solution

At first, the product team was thinking of building the chat feature by themselves from scratch but concluded that it would not be as cost-effective as they thought it would. So they started looking into 3rd party messaging software; even though they had some reservations about it, they went with TalkJS as the best fit for their use case.

“We considered building it ourselves. Not a good use of our time and money. So we chose TalkJS, as we couldn’t find other options that worked well with the codebase we are using. If not, we would have probably had to design something ourselves”Nicholas Smith, the Co-founder & CPO

The Surehand developers used the TalkJS chat API and the Javascript SDK to build a 1-on-1 chat into their hiring platform so recruiters and workers can switch from email to real-time messaging. The API brought a ton of advanced features like out-of-the-box notifications of all types, file sharing, and a lot more. In addition, the SDK provided an entirely pre-built UI that is highly customizable and made the frontend part of the work feel like a breeze.

What struck a chord with Surehand was the ability to integrate the TalkJS chat into the React Native app, which was very convenient when their hiring platform evolved from a web app to a mobile app.

“The fact that we could use TalkJS when we evolved to a React Native app was really helpful. Otherwise, we would have been forced to reinvent the wheel with a different solution, which would have been a large opportunity cost for us.”Nicholas Smith, the Co-founder & CPO


Surehand managed to connect recruiters and tradespeople with a first-class chat feature and bring a better hiring experience for both parties. The recruiters no longer have to manage all the candidates via email and 3rd party messaging apps. Instead, they have all the info and the conversation history right there on the Surehand platform. At the same time, candidates can quickly get in touch with a recruiter and ask questions about the job position.

“Our data shows that users are indeed using the TalkJS functionality to communicate with each other, and we have zero support tickets related to the usability.”Nicholas Smith, the Co-founder & CPO
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