In the past several years, mobile technology has simplified a wide range of the cumbersome, time-consuming, and unpleasant chores required of the professional class.
There’s Homejoy to clean your apartment, Uber and Lyft to hail a cab, and more food delivery apps than you can count.
But for all of the solutions created to improve the lifestyles of affluent urbanites, finding a job — the initial step that makes such a lifestyle possible — remains a lengthy and universally miserable process.
Sure, massive job boards like Monster and CareerBuilder alert us to an unprecedented number of potential openings — but who wants to give up hours of their precious leisure time crafting the perfect cover letter, only to submit the application into the internet equivalent of a black hole?
And while LinkedIn makes countless powerful people available for networking, the site is not perfect, especially for those who don’t have the time or the moxie to take advantage of it.
The result is that many would-be job seekers, lots of them talented and capable, choose not to bother until their current jobs become too bleak to bear.
Or at least that is what they have done until now.
In the past year, a new crop of apps has sprung up with the goal of hacking the job search for a new generation of professionals — one that is constantly on the lookout for the next opportunity and never very far from a mobile phone.
“We’re trying to liberate passive job seekers,” says Yarden Tadmor, founder and CEO of the New York City job-hunting app Switch. “Eventually, what we’re trying to create is an environment that connects people with companies and hiring managers.”
Switch, which went live this past summer, was inspired by Tadmor’s experience hiring for teams at several media technology companies, including the content recommendation engine Taboola.
In those roles, he became frustrated by the average $US25,000 placement fee recruiters claimed every time they helped him make a hire and the problems that came from working with multiple headhunters at the same time.
Switch cuts out the middle-man by asking New York City-based media and tech companies to post jobs directly for job seekers.
The app is described as a sort of “Tinder for jobs” because users, who appear anonymous to companies, are able to swipe left or right to indicate whether they are interested in the jobs Switch recommends to them.
If the company is interested in the applicant based on the LinkedIn profile he or she has uploaded to Switch, the two parties can begin a text conversation.
As it turns out, Tinder’s location-based, double opt-in technology, in which both parties must approve of the other before contact is initiated, has been almost as revolutionary in the jobs space as it has been in the dating realm.
“Tinder and Uber have shown that location is important, and that being able to match-make with people near you is a solvable problem,” explains Weave founder Brian Ma. “Taking it to the careers space is a logical next step.”
Like all of the new wave of job-hunting apps, Weave makes use of the résumé information people have put on their LinkedIn profile, and yet its existence is premised on the idea that the careers networking giant is at this point fundamentally flawed.
To be clear, LinkedIn is the biggest player in the space, a 300 million-user behemoth that isn’t going away any time soon.
But the effort it takes to identify and message influential people leaves an opening for Weave and Coffee — a similar app aimed at young people looking for entry-level or freelance gigs — to be used by job hunters in a complementary fashion.
A bigger problem with LinkedIn might be the one facing companies looking to hire highly-skilled talent. It’s these entities that will ultimately be asked to pay for services like Weave and Switch, and LinkedIn has become a difficult place for them to reach the people they want to contact.
Maisie Devine, cofounder of the app Poacht, explains that her cofounder Isaac Rothenbaum was so overwhelmed by recruiters seeking his software development skills that he began to tune them out entirely.
On their app, companies pay for the opportunity to connect with anonymous candidates who are passively looking for a new gig.
“I think 7 or 8 years ago, LinkedIn was probably akin to Poacht, but now it’s just a cesspool of salespeople, recruiters, and people you don’t even know reaching out to you for who knows what reason,” Devine says. “What we’re doing at Poacht is getting rid of all that noise.”
Yet it remains to be seen whether Poacht, or any of these apps, will make it in the long run.
At present, none of them have built any sort of major scale. With more than 75,000 users, Jobr is several times bigger than any of the other swipe-for-jobs apps.
And though all of the apps are ostensibly for people in any industry, when we tried them out, most were overwhelmingly populated with jobs and connections in the startup technology space.
Nonetheless, the opportunity to make money is certainly there.
It’s estimated that American companies spend more than $120 billion every year on hiring and recruiting services, a fact that was no doubt on the minds of investors when the online job posting and applicant tracking company ZipRecruiter raised a whopping $US63 million in August.
Eric Liaw of Institutional Venture Partners, the venture capital firm that led ZipRecruiter’s funding round, says that companies in the jobs space would be stupid to ignore mobile users, but he remains sceptical as to whether job-hunting will shift to phones and tablets as quickly as online dating did.
He points out that where Tinder is an almost entirely visual process, hiring requires more text, which doesn’t always look great on a phone. For instance,
he says it’s unlikely that many people will update their résumés or LinkedIn profiles from their mobile devices.
The swipe-for-jobs apps also face a hurdle in getting employers to consistently use their platform.
While most have a special feature for hiring managers to let them use the app from desktop computers, they still face stiff competition from the many other channels companies are using to find talent.
Several weeks ago, Tinder-for-jobs aspirant Emjoyment announced it would be taking a new direction because it couldn’t engage enough businesses on its platform.
Still, buoyed by the success stories of their early users, the founders we spoke with were confident that seekers and hiring mangers alike would take to their apps.
If nothing else, it won’t hurt job seekers to have another place to look.
“There are so many antiquated processes associated with changing jobs, and we should be able to use technology to tighten that up,” says Devine, Poacht’s cofounder.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.