Recruitment is usually both tedious and nerve-wracking, not only for the job-seeker but also for the company looking to fill positions. Applicants tend to be matched to jobs on the basis of skills they list on their resume — which is fine, but only up to a point.
The problem is that the characters of the applicant and company they want to work at usually only come out in the interview stage — and if those characters don’t match, both sides will have wasted time, effort and money in getting there. That’s why a startup called Somewhere is trying a new spin on the recruitment game that puts company culture front-and-center.
The brainchild of Berlin-based Australian entrepreneur Justin McMurray, Somewhere is no traditional job site – it doesn’t provide listings – but rather brings an About.me-style service for talent scouting.
Somewhere lets companies advertise themselves as cool employers, and with many creative and tech firms currently finding it hard to get the right kind of people, it’s an approach that may get, er, somewhere.
“The original motivation to explore this area was driven by my frustration at all the clichés people spout about doing what you love,” McMurray told me. “The problem is that this is so difficult to achieve, and no one tells you how to do this. Which is why we threw ourselves into the challenge of working out how to help people find things to do that they might love.”
Employers can set up a permanent profile describing what they are like and what kind of people they’re looking for, and their page includes a mechanism that not only lets potential employees express interest but also serves as an initial filter to cut down on wasted time.
Somewhere has been quietly testing its employer profiles since the end of February, and this week let potential job-seekers into the beta so they can also create their own “cultural profiles”.
The companies that have been involved so far are mostly Berlin tech startups and creative agencies in London and Sydney. And some have already embedded profile links and buttons into their recruitment pages as the preferred way for applicants to get in touch.
Tweek.tv’s profile provides a good idea of what Somewhere can do for businesses. The page shows pictures of the founders and the office, briefly describes who they’re looking for and what applicants might learn at the company. Then there’s the all-important “apply to meet us” button, which will be able to trigger a customised questionnaire designed to weed out unsuitable candidates.
The service is clearly targeting a certain kind of employer: one that sees company culture as key to its hiring process, for a start, which probably means small-to-midsized firms in the touchy-feely creative, marketing and tech sectors. In other words, a company that doesn’t quite need a dedicated HR department, but that also finds too much of its time and resources taken up in the hiring process.
“Traditional recruitment is too expensive and time-consuming, and doesn’t get it right,” McMurray said. “[Our] opportunity is to change the way companies think about, scout for, screen and build their talent networks. Because this is how they’ll craft company culture, which is increasingly the biggest determinant of a company’s success.”
Things are very early right now. But the real test of Somewhere’s approach will come in April, when the beta starts letting applicants and employers in London, Berlin, New York, Paris, San Francisco and Sydney talk to each other — in what McMurray calls a “cultural marketplace”.
Down the line, McMurray’s talking about allowing greater customisation of the service and building tailor-made pages into company sites.
Somewhere’s still looking for the funding to allow that kind of development but, given the paucity of fresh ideas in today’s recruitment industry, the job site with no listings may be a concept whose time has come.
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