Matchmaking drives the concept of the 2012 iTalent Competition Winner.
By Brent Skinner
How can passive candidates be turned into job seekers? That’s a challenge. A good way to start is by giving them an improved job search experience. Provide an environment where the experience is easier and interesting. The best passive candidates might decide to become job seekers, especially if your employer branding message is front and center, and appealing. Furthermore, if that employer brand of yours is straightforward, easy to understand, and avoids being generic, you’ll be offering what passive candidates perceive to be good jobs, something that The Good Jobs™—winner this year of the HRO Today Forum’s iTalent Competition, sponsored by Oracle in cooperation with the StartUp America Partnership—presents in an appealing way.
To help hiring organizations create an engaging job-seeking experience, The Good Jobs marshals a dynamic online environment that shepherds employers and job seekers alike through an imaginative, interactive matching methodology bolstered by technology. Cofounded by Anne Nimke, the cofounder and former CEO and president of Pinstripe, and Betsy Rowbottom, also previously of Pinstripe, The Good Jobs’ concept draws on their deep knowledge of all things recruiting.
“For the iTalent competition, we were seeing a theme of ‘we need to change the way we do business,’ ” says Yvette Cameron, vice president and principal analyst of Constellation Research and one of the iTalent Competition’s judging panelists. “When you think about attracting talent or being an individual seeking a new gig or new position, do you go to the traditional job boards or Facebook or Twitter? How do you sort through the noise out there? I was pleased to see that, whether you’re a candidate or an employer, the move is really on to become much more personalized in the way that you’re communicating.”
In this way, The Good Jobs is the prototype of the evolved job board. The company and those who will follow in its wake are forging a new interpretation of the job board. That new ethos will one day prompt us to ask ourselves, “Why, again, did we call job boards, job boards?” The Good Jobs, in fact, calls itself a culture directory.
“As someone who spent 35 years in the recruiting industry,” says Nimke, “I spent a lot of time on job boards, a lot of time on career sites. It’s not easy for me to navigate them, and I know how to work around the system to find the information I’m looking for. So The Good Jobs is for those people that want more information, but find it very frustrating to find the deeper information about jobs and companies—that inside scoop. They can have one source to go to, to find information that is easily organized around what the company offers in terms of engagement programs, retention programs, the employer brand, and easily find it by searching skill and location as well.”
Branding and Recruiting: Together at Last
The concept of The Good Jobs is a matching service for job seekers and hiring organizations, with an emphasis placed on helping those hiring organizations to spread word of their employer brands to the job seekers most likely to be interested. The glue is an array of badges, each of interest to the job seeker and representing a different facet of workplace culture reflecting that particular organization’s employer brand.
The Good Jobs’ technology platform is strategic for hiring organizations, enabling them to attract top talent by promulgating messaging about their corporate culture through new and current recruitment marketing channels. Companies are able to post their open positions for free, yes, but of greater impact is their ability to do more. For instance, a hiring organization that completes The Good Jobs company profile not only earns The Good Jobs badges appropriate to its organizational culture, but also receives the right to use those badges, as well as The Good Jobs’ logo, in marketing communication and on its own website. That means the badges might appear on the hiring organization’s Facebook hiring page or syndicated news feed (seen by those who like the page), recruiters’ tweets, and more. Everywhere a hiring organization communicates word of its open positions, a straightforward translation of the organization’s workplace culture is there for job seekers to see and react to.
These badges cover concepts or characteristics such as “a fun place to work, a green mission, and even when we work—i.e., easily understood, soundbite-sized descriptors of what it’s like to work for the hiring organization. Their labels are fun, extreme perks, corporate responsibility, flextime, green DNA, inclusion, and career development.
And legitimacy is there. Whereas job seekers might treat as suspect any employer branding claims coming straight from the hiring organization, The Good Jobs badges are independently verified through The Good Jobs’ assessment instrument to determine customers’ workplace culture. Hiring organizations take a straightforward questionnaire of statements, selecting several of those statements over others, thus enabling The Good Jobs to select badges on their behalf. The result is that any job seeker seeing a hiring organization’s job description, bolstered by The Good Jobs process, is already more likely to be retained, if hired, years down the road.
“During The Good Jobs’ pitch, at the iTalent Competition,” says Cameron, “I was impressed and pleased to see that when they were characterizing who they are, they threw up a chart similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Their version started at the base with information on jobs: required skills, locations, and the job descriptions themselves. But once job seekers have figured out those core things, they need to know that there’s a good match in there. That takes us to the highest level of the pyramid, which is what they’re calling ‘the good stuff.’
And it’s why they call their organization The Good Jobs, because it’s about really trying to get you to the good stuff at the top of pyramid after all the other details have been met. It’s an interesting approach.”
The Good Jobs logo residing on the hiring organization’s website also links back to that same hiring organization’s company profile at The Good Jobs. The Good Jobs company profiles function as micro-sites or landing pages and enhance the career pages of hiring organizations’ own websites. At The Good Jobs, job seekers can search the culture directory, which comprises the many hiring organizations’ profiles there, through an alphabetically organized company directory or by identifying badges that are priorities in their personal life or work styles. Alternatively, a job seeker can search for hiring organizations on the website by their badges, location, and an array of additional information found on the typical job description.
“We also have a feature called compare jobs,” says Rowbottom. “Just as if a consumer were buying a microwave or a big screen TV, researching and comparing the specs on a product, the job seeker should have the ability to look at jobs side-by-side.”
A Business Model for the Model
Following a subscription model, The Good Jobs will charge hiring organizations to post their jobs on the site, at a rate of $10 per employee for an annual subscription and licensing of The Good Jobs company profile and badges. That equation maxes out at $10,000 per year, which means no organization employing more than 1,000 staff will pay more.
One path that The Good Jobs would be smart to explore is marketing its highly concentrated population of highly motivated job seekers as an asset to other companies catering to hiring organizations in ways that are complementary to The Good Jobs’ mission. What’s also interesting is the depth of data that a website such as this can gather about job seekers. It’s information that organizations clamor for; the insights it yields into how best to attract the very best talent is highly valuable, which means it can command a fee.
“The data we’re going to gain from job seekers selecting badges and doing searches by skill or by keyword is going to be very valuable to share with employers,” says Nimke. “For example, the masses of individuals who are looking for work, and the talented individuals and the unhappy individuals, and the employed individuals, and what is critical to them, the trending that we see.”
Nimke and Rowbottom are currently launching their Milwaukee-based start-up. Employee retention and engagement are recurring themes on these pages, and the kind of insight Nimke describes is precisely what the hiring community could use as soon as possible.
Start-up Evolution Is Fast
Following the iTalent Competition last May, The Good Jobs made its premise even better, and HRO Today Forum attendees might well have noticed. Cofounders Anne Nimke and Betsy Rowbottom restudied their business model and value proposition and incorporated feedback from members of the iTalent Competition’s panel of judges. Notably, they also enrolled in a business acceleration program called gener8tor.
A for-profit group, gener8tor offers a nationally-proven step-by-step process designed to help start-up companies founded in the greater Milwaukee and greater Madison regions of Wisconsin to identify customers and speed their growth. In being selected for gener8tor’s program—which provides promising entrepreneurs with an environment for networking; access to community, mentorship, and expertise; and the kind of support that leads to venture capital—Nimke and Rowbottom were able to carry refocus their efforts.
They are now pointed towards helping hiring organizations promulgate word of their employer brand to those job seekers most apt to respond favorably. The objective is to court employer brand-minded organizations and rely mostly on pull marketing to attract job seekers. It’s a slight, yet significant, shift, and it places The Good Jobs at the bleeding edge of how to retain employees before they’re even employees—when they’re still candidates.
“Everyone wants these two entrepreneurs to do well, so we’re excited they’re building up this momentum,” says Joe Kirgues, co-founder of gener8tor. “We know who has a model and traction that, we think, is scalable and might interest investors at some point, and Anne and Betsy clearly fit those criteria.”
genr8tor focuses mostly on software and early-stage companies in greater Milwaukee and in greater Madison, where a brain trust of academic institutions and an entrepreneurially minded community is transforming the area into a hotbed of innovation. “It’s an area dense with people who are creative, entrepreneurial, artistic,” says Kirgues.
“Usually, in this scenario, we’re betting on the talent,” says gener8tor’s other co-founder, Joel Abraham, who is author of HIRED!: Networking to Land the Job YOU Want. “We bet on Betsy and Anne, and their reputation is stellar. For us, that’s the most important piece of whom we bring into the organization. Anne and Betsy are top shelf.”