What good is a job search site or app when you’re not looking for a job? That’s the issue TheLadders is tackling with the launch of a new version of its iOS app and a new feature that it calls the Job Market Guide.
CEO Alex Douzet told me that these are the first steps in a new direction for the company, which was founded in 2003. TheLadders was initially aimed at people looking for jobs that paid more than $100,000, before expanding its focus to a broader range of careers and salaries in recent years.
At this point, Douzet argued that the job search problem “has been mostly solved,” not just by TheLadders but by other sites like LinkedIn and Indeed. However, he said there’s still an opportunity to expand, because professionals usually only change jobs every three to four years. A site like TheLadders “is not really doing much for them in between” — something he’s hoping to change with these products, and with other ideas in the pipeline.
Let’s start with the updated app, which is launching today. Douzet pointed out that even if you’re not looking for a job, there’s a good chance you’re working on a team that needs to find good people fill open positions, or you may be able to help out a friend who’s trying to do the same. And while online job referrals aren’t a new idea, the app that Douzet and his team showed me yesterday offers a casual, convenient way to make those recommendations.
When you post a job opening in the app, you just enter a few basic details — your company, the title, the location, and a description, which can’t go longer than 200 words. The listing then shows up in the newsfeeds of your connections in the app, and those connections can recommend people in their network. If both the poster and the person being referred “like” the recommendation, then they can start chatting with each other in the app. (You can also recommend people who aren’t already members of TheLadders, who are then asked to download the app.)
The fact that TheLadders built this specifically for mobile could also be key. I’m no great connector, but even I can think of times when I was at an after-work event, or having dinner with a friend, and a job opening came up. I’d think, “Oh man, I know someone who’d be perfect for this” — then I’d have to make a note to myself to follow-up once I was at a computer again, which sometimes happened, and sometimes didn’t. By focusing on mobile, TheLadders allows you to take action right away in those situations.
The company will also continue to offer the existing job search features in the app, which launched last year. Douzet said added that the majority of TheLadders’ mobile usage is on iOS, so that’s where the focus is right now, but he acknowledged, “When we see the usage really, taking off, we will have to address Android” by introducing the new referral features to the existing Android app.
The Job Market Guide, meanwhile, is supposed to launch in full next week, but the company is releasing a more limited, “sneak preview” version today. The idea is to aggregate all the data from TheLadders’ 7 million-plus registered users and give people access to up-to-date information about their chosen professions.
For example, I looked up the data for writers in New York City, bringing up a page that includes the average salary, the current level of competitiveness, and a list of the “best” cities for that career (which is determined by a combination of salary, competitiveness, and cost-of-living). You can also see the kinds of skills needed for jobs in that profession and set up email alerts for changes and listings.
Douzet said TheLadders’ guide is unique because the data reflects what users are saying now, not what was reported in a study months or years ago, and it’s attuned to local differences — not just in salaries but also in the skills that employers are looking for, which can vary from city to city. He also argued that users on TheLadders have an incentive to be honest about their salaries, because that helps them to find relevant jobs: “If they lie about their current compensation, they find out very quickly that it’s not going to be useful for them.”
Asked if the data is skewed towards those high-income jobs that TheLadders started with, Douzet said the ratio between jobs paying less than versus more than $100,000 a year is now two-to-one. That may not be a perfect representation of the American workforce, but the company says the size and breadth of its user base is enough to make the data meaningful.
As far as longer term career planning, Douzet said TheLadders doesn’t try to tell you what kind of job you might have a decade from now, because careers don’t always follow an obvious, linear path: “There’s no product you can build that can predict in 5, 10 years where they should go.” However, the job profiles link to profiles for related jobs, so if you’re writer looking to become an editor, you can get a sense of how much additional experiences and what new skills you need.