LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network with a mission is to connect the world's professionals to make them more productive and successful. LinkedIn is pretty awesome if you are navigating your way through corporate America. But, what if you are not?
What if you are looking for work at the local Dunkin Donuts or a major retailer? Or what if you are one of the 67% of people over 18 who do not have a traditional college degree, and have instead opted for a career path outside of cubicles and conference calls? If you are a convenience store manager, barista, construction worker, cashier, pharmacy technician, personal care attendant, shipping and receiving clerk, housekeeper, truck driver, mechanic, welder, or maintenance manager, where do you network with others so you can be more successful? As it turns out, there's a place dedicated to making your life easier, a place where you can find the perfect job while advocating for others who are looking, too. That place is Jobcase.
I recently talked with the inspiring entrepreneur who has carved out a niche for the millions of Americans looking for the jobs that you just won't find on LinkedIn or Glassdoor. He's managed to find a way to aggregate jobs from around the country on one site, while also building a complex linguistic algorithm which matches job seekers with the best possible advocates to help them get the job they want, and one that also best suits their skills. If you are an employer, you can post your jobs for no cost. If you are looking for a job, you may also build your profile for free. There are no paywalls, no complex hoops to jump through, and no BS -- this is a simple site to match job seekers, employee seekers, and advocates. The founder is Fred Goff, the company is Jobcase, and here are his five simple lessons for building a company that matters.
Pivot: John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans," and in fact, Goff is the first to admit that Jobcase is a company that was born by accident when he stumbled upon a massive hole in the networking-for-jobs industry. Fred is a first generation college graduate in his family. Upon graduating from Carnegie Mellon he went on to become an emerging market trader and then became a proprietary funds manager at Bank of Boston. It was during these years that he noticed that while his strength was in business and banking, he lacked a clear understanding of technology, and so he took a sabbatical and attended MIT to absorb everything he could on the matter. Upon finishing MIT he went on to become the CIO of a large energy company in Oklahoma, and eventually returned to Boston in 2004 and founded Percipio Capital Management, a fund which converted to cash three short weeks before the Lehman Collapse of 2008. Percipio Capital Management eventually pivoted to Percipio Asset Management, and then to Percipio Media which was formed to leverage their technology and their team in the digital media space. It was while running his media company when Fred noticed a gap in the industry. He became intimately familiar with sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor, and soon found that these sites were serving only a small minority. In fact, nobody was serving the silent majority of people who are not seeking a job in corporate America. Goff says that the secret to building a company that matters is that you need to be able to recognize the big opportunity when you are working on a project. Sometimes that opportunity requires you to totally re-organize your business in a different direction. Goff says that if you are open to opportunity and willing to keep pivoting, you can build a company that fills a real need. He says that while he could still be running a media company, it would have been one of thousands of media companies trying to make a name for itself. Instead, his media company led him to a greater opportunity. So he pivoted and has built an empire that is serving a community that is underserved. The company reorganized to focus on the social media mission and on technology, putting other activities into a subsidiary entity. Goff says that LinkedIn and Glassdoor are great, but neither of these sites is serving their customer, and with 50 million people actively on Jobcase, less than 20% overlap with LinkedIn. For Goff, an opportunity presented itself, he saw it, and he chose to pivot.
Celebrate What Matters: Goff says that if you want to build a company that matters, you need to celebrate what matters when it comes to people. He says that on Jobcase, community members have the opportunity to build resumes. However, he's quick to point out that rarely is it the resume that gets one hired. He says that what gets people hired is their personal DNA, the stuff that makes them uniquely awesome. Jobcase has figured out a way to find the best in people. First, Jobcase celebrates volunteerism. Goff says that where a person volunteers in their free time says more about that person than the fact that they worked at Dunkin Donuts for three years. Therefore, the Jobcase platform highlights the volunteer work of its members on their profile page. Secondly, Jobcase helps its members collect praise. Community members can ask the people they know for praise. There are four types of praises - friends and family, former boss, co-workers, and customer. Jobcase separates the identities of those who leave praise so that the employer can quickly determine the relationship to the employee. What the community members appreciate most about collecting praises in one place is that once it's given, it lives forever on the Jobcase platform, so they aren't trying to track down a boss three years later to get a recommendation. Jobcase has built a platform that's much more than just a list of past jobs and experiences, it's a site that celebrates the human being behind the profile, make it easier for employers to hire based on character, competence, and capacity to give back.
No Subscriptions/No Paywalls: What's unique about Jobcase is that it's a free site for both the employer and the job seekers. Fred was clear that they are not just trying to collect resumes so that they can put it behind a paywall to sell it back to employers. Employers can freely scroll through a list of local candidates and pull a resume in two clicks. Jobcase has removed all the possible friction, making it easy for employers and job seekers to find one another. Furthermore, Jobcase has developed linguistic algorithms to search their 50 million members to find the ones relevant to one another. For example, Fred shared the story of one woman who had applied multiple times at Walmart for a job. Apparently there's a kiosk where you fill out an application. She posted to Jobcase asking if anyone else had experience successfully getting a job at Walmart, and as it turns out, one of the other Jobcase members saw the post and responded, offering this woman the exact blueprint to get the job. Fred says that the coolest part of the Jobcase platform is that they are connecting advocates, people who have experience getting a particular job and who are willing to help others achieve their job goals.
People Not Data: It was after his sabbatical at MIT and while he was on the first pivot of Jobcase when Fred attended a jobs conference which focused on jobs data. He listened to the speakers and was angry about the dismissive way in which human beings were being discussed as commodity labor. All he could think about during the event was, "These are people you are talking about, not data." He says that the way in which people were referred to as data at that conference bothered him for years. That's why the human touch of the Jobcase site is so important to him. He says that by giving both job seekers and employers a voice, they can communicate human to human, not data to data. As well, by highlighting the volunteer work and the praises on each profile, it's abundantly clear there's a human being behind the resume.
Suburban Barbecue Stigma: Last but not least, Fred is on a mission to change what he calls the Suburban Barbecue Stigma. First of all, he pointed out that there are more people in the US who do not have college degrees than do. Secondly, he says that while college is a great option for many, it's not for everyone, and for many kids, it's not the best option. He says that college comes with a massive price tag. As well, there are many kids who just don't learn well in a classroom setting. Fred says that he's afraid that too many kids end up going to college just because of the Suburban Barbecue Stigma. In other words, every high school graduate and the parents of every high school graduate, attend barbecues every July. "So what's Johnny doing now that he's done with high school?" Fred says that sometimes there's an unfortunate stigma attached to kids who choose not to attend college. He says it's unfortunate only because there are millions of really good artisan and trade jobs out there that don't require college degrees, and if only there were no stigma, there'd be more good people to take those jobs and less twenty-year olds struggling from massive student loan debt.
Fred Goff and Jobcase have found a niche, albeit a massive one. Jobcase is serving the silent majority by being the LinkedIn for everyone else.