If you’ve ever been on the job search, you know how frustrating and time consuming it is to manage the process. (If not, just ask one of the more than 13 million people in the U.S. currently there.) You spend untold hours filling out the right forms and fields, adding more action verbs to your resume, etc., and you fire off the application. Then comes the infuriation: Your prospective employer doesn’t respond, so you send a follow-up. Nothing. And another follow-up. Still nothing.
Job searchers absolutely hate this — the so-called resume (or application) black hole. While larger companies may be able to afford a few bruised egos, in the end, this deficiency frustrates potential employees — an customers. It can damage your company’s reputation and make you an enemy. It’s not as if job searchers expect the red carpet to be rolled out after every application submitted, all people want is a response or an update. “Thanks, we’re reviewing now. May take a few days,” or “Thanks, but we hired your wife.” Fair enough. People move on.
This is the primary pain point a young startup called StartWire is trying to solve. There are plenty of job search engines, recruitment vehicles and so on out there on the Web. So, while the startup does assist in job discovery by allowing you to connect your social network accounts (like LinkedIn, Facebook) and serves you targeted recommendations based on who you know, what companies you’ve applied to, etc., that’s just part of the story.
The real value proposition of StartWire lies in its being a project management tool for the job search process. You can use the service without ever actually applying to a job through the site. While most job search sites focus on discovery, StartWire wants to keep you organized and make sure that you’re receiving automatic updates on all of your applications.
The startup provides users with these status updates from over 5,400+ companies, automating the connection between the company’s site and StartWire, so that any change made by the company automatically populates in the user’s account. Users’ updates are private and never shared.
For companies, the service is free and they don’t have to do anything differently than what they’re doing right now, so it’s a no brainer. For job seekers, they can either automate status updates by tracking the application through StartWire, or they can forward the confirmation email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This too is free, and works with any company job searchers apply to, even if you applied through other websites — all you have to do is give permission for the service to track your applications. If companies don’t provide online status updates, searchers can do so manually on the site. StartWire then organizes all of your applications in one place, labeling each as “active”, “stalled”, or “no longer in the running”, sending you updates in daily emails or texts.
StartWire Founder Chris Forman tells us that companies are encouraged to give more feedback to applicants than just “job no longer available”, but that it’s not mandated. This brings up the recent study StartWire released on what most irks job searchers about the process. Unsurprisingly, not responding to a job candidate has serious potential harm for companies’ reputations. The study found that 77 percent of job seekers think less of a company that doesn’t respond to a job application, while 72 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to recommend companies’ products or services or write a positive review online.
Obviously, this is one of the biggest causes of anxiety when searching for jobs. Of those polled, 90 percent said that getting feedback on their applications would make the overall process less frustrating. And certainly, it’s not for lack of trying, as the study found that 90 percent of job seekers follow up with potential employers on their status, while only 33 percent of Fortune 500 companies provide feedback through their application system.
It’s difficult to stress enough how big of a problem this is, and how companies are potentially doing irreperable damage to their reputation by not doing something that should be very easy to do, just by automating.
As for StartWire, the startup launched in early 2011 and had attracted 50,000+ registered users by January 1st of this year. Foreman says that the company is currently on pace to double that number by the end of the month.
As it’s operating as a free service, you might be wondering how StartWire is making money. Like many travel and job sites before it, StartWire is a lead generator for job boards and consumer advertisers. Based on a user’s profile, resume, and job search activity, StartWire recommends job sites and offers that it deems relevant to its users, taking a cut if visitors turn into paying customers.
It also doesn’t hurt that the New Hampsire(!)-based company is backed by $4 million in venture capital, from a $750K round of seed in late 2010, and a $3.25 million series A round led by Baird Venture Parnters in October of last year.
For more, check out the startup’s webinars here.