There’s a LinkedIn for People Not on LinkedIn

By Roy Maurer Sep 20, 2016
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​Fred Goff, founder and CEO of Jobcase.

Accountants, HR managers and software designers use LinkedIn to stand out to recruiters, make professional connections and keep up with the latest in thought leadership from their peers. They peruse company listings on Glassdoor to benchmark compensation and to size up the workplace culture at organizations that are hiring.

Sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor have become essential tools for the professional segment of the U.S. workforce.

But what about everyone else? The approximately 70 percent of the labor force categorized as service-industry or blue-collar workers—the retail clerks, nursing assistants and truck drivers? These workers rely on job listing sites without ways to connect or ways to crowdsource information about local employers and available positions.

That's where Jobcase comes in. The Boston-area company has positioned itself as a job-oriented social networking site for the massive segment of the workforce that is typically without a college degree, those who apply for hourly work and those who are more likely to find a job at their local Burger King than at the corporate headquarters.

The site has 50 million members nationwide and brings in about 1 million new visitors a month.

SHRM Online talked with Fred Goff, the founder and CEO of Jobcase, about the site's benefits for members and employers, what topics drive the most engagement, and why the talent acquisition industry has seemingly neglected the nonprofessional workforce.    

SHRM Online: What differentiates Jobcase from other employment sites?

Goff: We're the only social media site dedicated to empowering nonprofessional working folks.

These workers may be short on college degrees and their resumes may be interrupted by stretches of unemployment, but networking is no less important for them to get ahead. It's harder for these workers to connect on professional networking sites because the resume formats emphasize a continuous work history instead of skills. For many people, volunteer experience and people's praises [recommendations on the site] mean as much as chronological work experience. Where a person volunteers in their free time says more about that person than the fact that they worked at McDonald's for three years. Think of someone who runs a coffee klatch after church or someone who's on the PTA. Think about what that says about their organizational skills.

SHRM [the Society for Human Resource Management] can look at a professional profile on LinkedIn and figure out if someone has the right work experience and cultural fit and reach out to them. But what about the rest of the country? Think about Starbucks opening up a new location. Wouldn't it be cool if they knew the cashier at the local Dunkin' Donuts remembers everybody's order and smiles at people every morning and maybe receives 10 praises a day on Jobcase? If those praises are on her profile, and Starbucks is looking for a new barista, they'll hire her. When a cashier gets praises from co-workers, supervisors and customers, she can get proactively sourced by employers, get paid more and move up. Your Jobcase profile is essentially your employment jacket.

SHRM Online: What are some of the benefits to being a Jobcase member beyond job searching?

Goff: It's a networking hub. You can get job listings from Indeed or CareerBuilder on our site, but that's just one point in the work life cycle. What you'll see on our site is people asking about shift scheduling or how to deal with perceived discrimination. People asking about health care options. An Iraq war veteran commented that he hadn't felt camaraderie like this since the service. Someone else said he thought of the site as his online family. He said he was searching for a job and no one was calling him back, and he felt alone. On Jobcase, he got to talk to a community about his challenges. Tactically, there are how-to's on how to get a job at the local Wal-Mart or who to talk to about hiring at the bank. We're most excited about people helping each other, like the Houston Uber group where 400 drivers are sharing information with one another. There's no watercooler in the gig economy. But here are 400 drivers who are talking about where to park at the airport, or what are the best hours to drive, or how to deal with local regulations. We've curated employer reviews for 27 million locations across the country. For example, Bank of America has 5,500 locations, and Home Depot has over 2,200. We'll have information from third parties like Glassdoor, first-party reviews from Jobcase members and people talking about each worksite along with the job openings at that location. 

We're really focused on helping people praise one another. It's a positive thing to encourage. If you give a waiter a great tip, it's a one and done transaction. But if a waiter collects a bunch of praises on Jobcase, all the restaurants around town will figure out who the talented waiters are. Wouldn't Home Depot like to know who gets the highest ratings as an Uber driver, demonstrating how punctual and organized they are and what great customer service they provide?

SHRM Online: What are the most popular conversations on Jobcase?

Goff: Many of the conversations are about how to follow up with a particular hiring manager or how to navigate the hiring process in a particular location or advice for preparing for interviews. People relate their own experiences and try to help out. It's a positive place, with a whole lot of empathy, encouraging others how to get through challenges. The coolest part of the platform is that it connects advocates, people who have experience getting a particular job and who are willing to help others achieve their job goals, with job seekers.

But, honestly, right now there is also a lot of angst. Hot-button topics tend to be about ageism, discrimination, complaints about the candidate experience. We're living in a shallowly employed society. There's a lot of anxiety underneath, there's a lot of job friction causing a lot of pain and those hot buttons are front and center.

SHRM Online: Would you say that the talent acquisition industry has neglected the nonprofessional workforce?

Goff: Unequivocally, yes. I don't think it's from a place of malice, but absolutely a majority of the labor force's work experience is being overlooked. People are patting themselves on the back about full employment, not realizing this full employment is very shallow. For the most part, there's a benign ignorance. I was recently at a conference of very educated people and I asked the audience if they got a coffee that morning or got their car fixed recently. Many hands went up. Then I asked did they know how the person who made their coffee or fixed their car got their job. All the hands went down. The industry itself is struggling to find software engineers at the quantity that's needed. So a lot of money and thought leadership goes into that sector. A software engineer's daily work enables millions of people to interact with the work he or she does. That's why they get paid so much. An excellent employee at the Stop and Shop in Boston unloads trucks and stocks shelves at the store every day, and maybe 200 people are going to interact with his work. It's economics. Things that scale get remunerated higher than things that don't. It's a structural issue and the conversation follows the money. The economics are driving the focus on the professional workforce, and folks like us are focused on the remaining 70 percent of the workforce.

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