Looking for a job, founding a startup
It began with a conversation about optimism. My editor, who reads all my posts before they are published, asks me tough questions, questions which force me to think, research, do a better job. She has been arguing that my version of the future of work and the workplace is too optimistic. That it is hard to reconcile with the difficulty, the frustration, the pain we are familiar with in the workplace. And so we looked back to where this blog, and later newspaper column started, attempting to sketch the different possible paths the future of work is taking and to get us to think, maybe even act, so that our organization and our personal career will adapt over time. It doesn’t really matter if we like the changes happening around us, affecting work and careers. But it does matter that we do something about them. At the social level, that we attempt to change what we believe needs changing. And at our workplace, that we understand how all this affects us, or can and will affect us, as organizations and as individuals, and that we prepare for that as well.
We all experiences hardship and frustration at work or in our careers at some point. It’s not a matter of whether, only of when. I don’t know if it’s optimism, I prefer to think of it as unwillingness to become the victim, to wait and do nothing, complain and hope something will happen, someone else will solve the problem. And so I remembered all the stories which reached me this year about people who were looking for a job and discovered opportunities. Today’s column is dedicated to them. To those who did not like the process and did what separates entrepreneurs from everyone else, they turned a problem into an opportunity. That small but significant twist in the plot, from complaining about what doesn’t work to doing something about it. And that something turned into an interesting startup.
Today’s post tells the stories of five entrepreneurs, who made this shift from very different angles. The first identified a need in the area of temporary, student type jobs. The second began with the need to hire by location. The third asked himself why searching online job boards is a very different experience to searching the web. The fourth created a solution around employee referral programs and the fifth dealt with the job searching process itself. Meet:
You’ve seen those job postings, on a shop window, a restaurant, even the deliver truck. Open positions, looking for waiters / shop clerks / package handlers. In this job market for temporary jobs there isn’t much of an infrastructure. Job boards don’t spend much space here and the connection between those searching for a job and the available jobs many times narrows down to that piece of paper on the shop window. I heard about this opportunity from Sagi Waitzman, one of three partners at Getjobs, an app using physical location to connect temporary jobs such as waitresses, delivery etc, presenting the available jobs on a map or list by distance from the job seeker. Here you don’t need a resume and the app connects you directly to a chat with the Business looking for employees. The idea originated when the entrepreneur, Liyam Flexer tried to find temporary employment during his studies. “Go look at the new mall” he tells me, sending me to see every shop window carries a paper sign indicating they need people. Why paper signs? Because there is no better way for this type of jobs, temporary jobs, student jobs, or for people travelling through who need a shirt term job. And the business model? They are still trying to grow their data base with businesses and people so today the app is still free. In the future they hope to have businesses pay to get promoted.
Oz Katz started Jobibon when working at his family’s business and recognizing what he defines as the Achilles heel of the organization. It began with the need to hire blue collar workers such as drivers, operators, phone operators, equipment handlers. Oz designed a system to increase hiring effectiveness and drive down cost and defined an app to enable job posting based on job type and location. He directs me to Facebook to see the various job search groups by location and others by job type of industry. “What the job seeker needs is a cut of both those variables” he tells me. So Jobibon enables the job seeker to define a radius for a job search and explore the job postings in that radius or focus the search by job types. What began as an app for blue collar jobs now posts many more job types including Hi Tech jobs and even consultants and service providers offering various services for the job seeker. Usage of the application for job seekers is free and Oz already has a number of investors interested.
Erez Dori – like many of us when looking for a new job – had been working his network and spending time scanning the large online job boards. Frustrated with job boards user-experience, he got his motivation for action. In most job boards, one needs to go through long lists of various categories to get to relevant jobs. But if you’ve recently looked for a job you know the feeling that you don’t really know if you need to select “SW engineer”, or “Computer Science”, or “Computers” or all of them. Users of job boards are also familiar with “phantom jobs”, as Erez calls them. Job postings from unknown sources, posted on boards without the reference to the relevant company. Many job seekers hesitate to apply to jobs, when they do not know who the employer is, especially when the job search is discreet. Furthermore, lacking full information in the job posting, the candidate cannot invest in tailoring his or her resume according to the target employer.
Erez continued his search on companies’ websites, since that is the best source of information on open positions. But if you’ve recently done that, you probably experienced how hard it is to track dozens of companies’ websites. And since we’ve been spoiled by the user experience of the search tools on the web, Erez wondered why he couldn’t simply search for a job using a search box and find all open positions relevant for him, directly from the source – the company’s web site? He envisioned a search engine which tracks all job pages in companies’ web sites with a similar user experience of a modern search engine. That is how Jobimix was born, a search engine that tracks daily all job and ad pages from hundreds of companies in all industries, pulls out job postings, updates and removes as necessary, ensuring the results mirror almost immediately the most updated and reliable open positions. And yes, Jobimix also serves job seekers at no cost.
I met Ben Reuveni very early on his journey and since then he’s already raised money and is steadily progressing down the entrepreneurship path. He told me back then how he found himself tracking who works where so that he can help his friends and himself find jobs. Ben quickly understood that his network and those of his friends played an important role not just in finding jobs, but also in recruiting in the organizations they worked in. Even where he then worked, his list of friends, then on Excel, served as a tool to find the right candidates. And it enabled his friends to hear about interesting opportunities where others were working.
This is when Ben realized that his Excel needs to grow and he started Workey – a platform that knows what you are looking for and finds you the right positions through your own network. Something along the lines of “tell me who your friends are and I’ll know who you are… The algorithm tries to identify the types of roles relevant for you based on a comparison of your career with millions of other profiles. It will then present you with appropriate roles but will also show you who in your network works in those organizations so that you can approach the roles through your network via employee referral processes. And if you approve, your profile will be anonymously presented to hiring companies and you get to decide if for which jobs you want your information shared. These are the benefits for job seekers, but there are some also for hiring companies. They can use Workey to approach employee networks, recognizing that these are the best source of hiring and enables tapping candidates who aren’t necessary active job seekers. The system analyzes roles and compares them to the profiles of the employee’s friends and recommends to those employees who in their network fits which roles. It also enables Human Resources to view relevant candidates from their employees’ networks.
When Nir Savitzki was in the market for a job he quickly discovered that he was losing track of the process itself. He did what candidates do – actively contacted hiring companies through various channels, tailored his resume to the job he was applying for. But when these called him back, sometimes weeks later, he found himself searching his inbox trying to find what was the job, what were the requirements and what version of his resume had he sent. So Nir understood there is room for a better solution to run the job search process and created Jobvoyage, a website set up to facilitate an effective job search through the various stages of the process. This includes managing the list of companies, contacts, jobs with all relevant details and versions of your resume, as well as a calendar of interviews and reminders. It also allows you to create a plan to help you stay active, use your network and set up goals. And last but not least, it prevents multiple applications to the same job, sometimes published through various channels.
These were five stories about job seekers who chose to do something different. In all these stories, the idea for a startup was born out of personal experience and not by those who are responsible for these processes in organizations or the market. One other common thread in all these stories became visible when I asked about the business model. In all five cases the response was very clear – we believe job seekers need to find jobs for free. They do not pay, not today, not in the future.