Vancouver startups tap new tech to target job hunters

Websites cater to the shifting online expectations of young career seekers
James Clift, CEO of KarmaHire: “the best candidates don’t look for jobs anymore; they look for a new experience”

Looking for a new job in 2013 – or hoping to find fresh talent for your company? Recently launched Vancouver startup websites are helping companies recruit dynamic young professionals and helping users find new careers by catering to jobseekers whose expectations have shifted because of advances in technology and use of social media.

KarmaHire is a free platform website offering software as a service (SaaS) to help companies streamline recruitment. Businesses can use it to build a new careers page for their website or join a virtual job fair to attract potential employees.

The platform gives companies a way to communicate their corporate culture through photos, live social media feeds, job listings and multimedia. It’s also possible to integrate the page with an existing company website so users aren’t aware they’re interacting with the KarmaHire platform.

CEO James Clift said he and business partner Thomas Zhou developed the idea for KarmaHire when they were running a web agency that was struggling to recruit the right people.

“What we found is that the best candidates don’t look for jobs anymore. They look for a company, a new experience,” he said. “KarmaHire helps businesses showcase their company culture, their employment brand and what makes them unique. The goal is to give them a better channel to connect with candidates.”

Clift said that KarmaHire is a great tool for medium-sized companies that don’t have a large budget or their own careers website.

“Companies don’t have to spend money on a branding or recruitment agency because with us they can log on, build a great experience in minutes and start seeing results and that ROI right away.”

The eight-month-old website has about 50 companies with accounts and approximately 3,000 candidates registered in its database.

Clift said his business model is based on convincing users of the free service to pay for the company’s premium version, which is scheduled to be launched within the next few months. Premium features, which will be available for a monthly subscription fee, include in-depth tracking and talent-relationship management tools.

Heidi Rolston, a spokeswoman for Build Direct, said KarmaHire has helped expedite the hiring process.

“It creates a landing page for people so they have a better flavour for who we are as a company. Because we don’t have a full-blown career site, it tells people what it’s like to be in the organization.”

Rolston added that Build Direct has more than doubled in size in the last six months.

“We have a lot of demands from an employment branding perspective, and KarmaHire has been critical to us being able to get to where we’ve scaled to right now.”

Sokanu is another new career-seeking website. Funded by angel investors, it helps people find a new career. Users answer a series of questions that are matched to potential occupations based on a complex algorithm. They then complete a profile detailing their previous job experiences and are connected with people who are already successful in an occupation so they can ask them questions.

The site, which is focused on career discovery, offers no job listings.

Like KarmaHire, the company plans to generate revenue by issuing a premium version with a subscription fee in the spring.

The two-month-old site has already generated 10,000 users who answer an average of 90 questions each.

Jocelyn McLean, Sokanu’s communications co-ordinator, said Spencer Thompson founded the company when he graduated from high school two years ago and realized that many of his classmates didn’t know what they wanted to pursue as a career.

“There’s this generalization that our younger generation is passive but with a sense of entitlement,” she said. “And technology caters to that. Our generation expects to enter their information into a computer so that somebody will stumble on it and give you what you’re looking for.”

McLean said the traditional resumé’s days are numbered.

“Sokanu is the idea of going beyond the resumé. Everyone has a bachelor’s degree, so … people set themselves apart by telling their stories on how they got to where they are or by showing what their character or drive is like.”

McLean said the Sokanu team has been encouraged by the international reaction it has received so far.

“We were picked up by a tech blog in Spain, and that really confirmed our vision and our mission to be relevant worldwide.” •

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