Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bye Bye Snaptalent

There is, er, was a job board for college students called Snaptalent. The whole idea was pretty straightforward, help employers hire college students. The only trouble was they were trying to be take be craiglist and SimplyHired at the same time, a nearly impossible task, and other sites like Barefoot Student and MonsterCollege already have significant traction among the college crowd.

Creating a successful job site from scratch would be a very hard thing to do. A new job board is unlikely to be successful, especially in a niche where major players already exist. What Snaptalent needed to be successful as a traditional job portal was content and eyeballs, and to do that with little to no budget would be almost insurmountable, and they were stuck in a Catch 22. Getting recruiters like me to post even one job (aka content) on Snaptalent would require either results (aka I got a lot of applicants) or bribery (aka you pay me to post on the site). Getting college students to show up to the site would have required a lot of jobs and some sort of special hook that made the students think "hey, I should come back here AND tell all of my friends!"

I'm pretty convinced that the process of finding a job online won't really become streamlined and efficient until employers, recruiters, and job seekers are all playing nice in the same playground, which I suppose is what we'd call vertically integrated (or maybe a job ecosystem?) I've got some ideas on how one would execute on such a plan, and here's some features that a job ecosystem would have to include to be successful...
  • A monitoring system that allows everyone to understand exactly how they are performing within the job ecosystem. For example, employers would know how many applicants they have reached, and job seekers would know the status of their applications at all times.

  • The most talented people and desirable employers would actively use the site because it provided a valuable service to them. I believe many employers and job seekers that could be called "cream of the crop" currently find online hiring to be largely a waste of time.

  • Everyone in the system would have access to training materials and services.

  • Post and applying to jobs would always be free, but there might be some premium services to help people automate some of these functions.

  • Speed and efficiency would be everyone's goal, and everyone would be rewarded for moving applications through the hiring process.

  • Recruiters would be trained professionals, not amateurs.

  • All job postings would be legitimate - no multilevel marketing, franchises, spam, or fake jobs that are really self employment opportunities.

  • Government, industry, and educational institutions would all work together to ensure that the workforce studied relevant materials. For example, it'd be nice for a person paying tens of thousands of dollars to study a subject could actually earn a living wage in that field upon graduation.

  • The job ecosystem would be started by someone who knew all of items on this list. Here is a letter from Snaptalent's founders (the letter may or may not be at at the time you read this). The letter indicates that they learned all of these lessons after the fact. I guess after two years, they felt the knowledge they had accumulated was not powerful enough to continue operating their site. I hope they are able to apply these lessons in a new venture, because that knowledge is powerful.

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