Moving past Craigslist: job search in the data-era

Bagel Art in Evanston uses old-fashioned sign to advertise a job, but more business owners are grativitating toward social-media based job search sites.
Bagel Art in Evanston uses a door sign to advertise  jobs, but more business owners are gravitating toward social media -based job sites (Camille Izlar/MEDILL)

As the beneficiary of Craigslists postings (one roommate, one relatively inexpensive apartment and two jobs), I can bear witness to the miracle of the free find-and-search list. As it has grown in popularity, however, Craigslist has also become increasingly difficult to sift through.

But a new breed of websites is betting that social media can beat out the standard lists seen on job boards like Craigslist and

LinkedIn was the most successful job recruiter of the social media sites in 2012, according to a study from Bullhorn, a software company that tracks job applications, showing that 93 percent of recruiters used the professional networking site to successfully place a candidate last year.

But LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter still put the onus on the job seeker and the advertiser to find each other. Some newer companies, like CareerArcGroup, see the possibility for using applications within these sites to make the search easier.

If you haven’t heard of CareerArc or Tweetmyjobs, one of its platforms, that’s a good thing. The three-year-old company wants to operate in the background for its users, rather than draw traffic to its website.

“Traditional job boards require you to go to them and to continue to visit them constantly to see whether there are any jobs”, says Stuart Lander, chief marketing officer at CareerArcGroup. “We think that system is broken.”

CareerArc takes jobs from company websites and pushes them to where job seekers are, on social media, so that neither has to visit CareerArc’s site. How do they do this? “We have over 10,000 Twitter channels that filter jobs by type and location,” says Lander. A person who sees that a job on Twitter is sent directly to the application, not CareerArc.

However, it’s not all about pushing jobs out, it’s also about pulling the right match in. Lander says that despite new technologies in all sectors, hiring still happens in the same old way: who you know.

“You have a 20 percent more likely chance of getting a job through a reference,” he says. CareerArc takes this old-school formula and applies it online. Its Facebook application, “The Who?” button, allows users to see if any friends of friends know someone at a particular company. It will then send an email to the user showing the connections.

Lander says that of the estimated 58 million Americans looking for work in 2012, his company found 13 million of them.

However, some smaller companies assert that it is not all about big data.

At Shiftgig, a Chicago-based startup, the founders noticed that industries have different hiring needs. Shiftgig arose specifically to serve the wait staff in Chicago’s growing dining sector. However, unlike TweetMyJobs, they want to draw people to their online community from Facebook and Twitter.

“For us, social media is a drop in the bucket, the real value is on our site where we have 200,000 users,” says spokesman Will Steinberg. The site is not a list of jobs but rather a compilation of restaurant industry buzz, how-to’s, profiles and, of course, new job opportunities. Steinberg says users can follow restaurants and be the first to hear about a new job.

At first glance, one might wonder why you’d need to follow a restaurant on Shiftgig if you are already following them on Twitter. But Steinberg says small announcements are easy to miss on Twitter and Shiftgig allows managers to contact users first.

Like the creators of President Barack Obama’s campaign site, Shiftgig engineers focused on creating a user-friendly community and calling people to action. The site has been growing in popularity over the past year mostly through word of mouth.

For business owners, the free platform is a big draw. “There’s so much turnover in this industry and a small business can’t afford to post jobs to job sites,” Steinberg says. Shiftgig uses the “freemium” model made possible by $3 million in investor funding raised last October. They plan on keeping the site free as they expand to cities all over the country.

Despite these new ways of looking at jobs, Google Play reports that Indeed, a job board, is still the most downloaded app for job search. But many users complain that while there are tons of jobs on Indeed, they lack the customized, local fit. Shiftgig and CareerArc agree that their the local filters hook users.

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