Woo Wants To Take The Hassle And Fear Out Of Job Hunting

LinkedIn is the place where business professionals are seemingly obligated to have an account. While it is undoubtedly useful for growing your “professional network” and heavily used by recruiters across multiple industries worldwide, it isn’t necessary the first place that springs to mind for exploring new roles.

Along those lines, a new startup believes that’s their scope for a more passive and anonymous experience that puts candidates in complete control of the process. Woo, an Israeli-U.S. company, has eschewed the LinkedIn model of scale and instead taken the approach of luring highly-sought talent who can explore potential new job opportunities without commitment and, perhaps most importantly, maintaining anonymity.

“We are offering a tool to people who are not necessarily looking to switch their jobs but still want to know what their possibilities and market worth/demand are,” Woo CEO Liran Kotzer told TechCrunch. “We are putting the candidate in the driver’s seat, enabling them full control over the process while keeping the talent’s profile totally anonymized and passive.”

“Our matching system is the strongest in the market since it combines what people really want coupled with their skillset. Woo has essentially created for the first-time a new layer of what people want in a new job/position and that is unique to our service and for our matching technology,” Kotzer added.

Woo launched publicly this week and announced a $2.35 million seed funding round, but the service is limited. Right now, the company said it has over 4,500 candidates on board, all of whom were invited to sign-up, and it is adding to that number by selectively reaching out to more. On the employer front, Kotzer said there are more than 100 companies from the Bay Area and Israel, including big names like WeWork, Houzz, AOL (which owns TechCrunch) and Yahoo. He added that 200 more are waiting to come on board, and should do soon.

Kotzer and his co-founder/CTO Ami Dudu have worked together for 15 years on a range of projects that include tech-focused recruitment agency SeeV — which recently exited to Israel-based public company Matrix — where they conceived the idea for Woo.

Kotzer argued that a combination of fear of being found to be looking and a reluctance to invest in the process (rewriting a CV, being available for interviews) puts people off job hunting until they really need a new role. That explains the different approach that Woo is taking.

Users are asked to rank their criteria for new opportunities when they sign up to Woo — such as location, new challenges, higher compensation, etc — after which they can import information from sources like LinkedIn and GitHub to complete their profile. To maintain confidentially, Woo then uses its “proprietary anonymizing technology” to strip out information identifying a user, meaning prospective new employers can judge based on skills, experience and demands.

If things progress and a user receives inbound interest from a company that they wish to pursue, they then have the option to provide their full identity connect to explore the opportunity.

“We let tech talent simply ​post their dream job, become anonymous and let companies approach them. But companies can only approach someone if they agree to meet and offer them something that meets their key terms/expectations​,” Kotzer explained. “Woo is basically a gatekeeper for the talent. Woo makes sure ​talent can be approachable only to those companies that can offer​ them the key terms that they want.”

Woo isn’t the only one looking to make passive job hunting a better experience.

LinkedIn, which saw its share price tumble 30 percent on account of lower than expected revenue forecasts, recently bought Connectifier to boost its job matching credentials. Founded by ex-Googlers, the company uses an AI-based approach to help companies headhunt people who aren’t specifically looking to get hired — the very same concept as Woo.