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The "Shift" in Recruiting and Job Hunting

shiftgigI recently chatted with Jeff Pieta, President and co-founder of Shiftgig.com, a job site for the restaurant, retail and hospitality industries. In five major cities, and testing in six more Shiftgig has over 160,000 candidates and 6,000 employers on the site.

Jaime: Jeff, what makes Shiftgig different?

Jeff: It's actually a community that facilitates two-way communication between candidates and employers. What I mean by that is, on a traditional job board, when an employer posts a job, they sit back and wait for people to apply. However, on Shiftgig when an employer posts a job, they instantly see candidates within our database that are a good match for their job. We use our proprietary fit score to evaluate matches, and it's based on categories and work experience. For example, if you have a fine dining restaurant, candidates with fine dining category experience would be at the top of the list whereas candidates with sports bar or quick casual would be lower down. And also, geography is a consideration as well.

Jaime: How does it work for candidates?

Jeff: Candidates can either apply for a job traditionally or employers can reach out to them with interview requests. Candidates can receive job alerts of new jobs that are posted and that are a good fit for them. Or if a candidate decides they want to follow a trending place, they can and they can get alerted automatically when new jobs at that place are posted.

Jaime: Tell me about the social implications, how you've picked and borrowed and created new ideas from other social networks and integrated them into Shiftgig?

Jeff: We've seen a trend with LinkedIn becoming the professional social network for executives. LinkedIn has a lot of features that cater to executives for purposes of business. Now most of LinkedIn's features revolve around information sharing, and that's what executives that are highly educated and experienced do. They want to share information. We've found that LinkedIn isn't looking to go down market into more blue collar jobs. They're looking to stay with the white collar executive demographic. Now, what's very interesting about that is it's easy for executives to maintain their professional persona on LinkedIn and keep the personal Facebook life separate.

The challenges of Facebook is that it's more for friends and family. And so, you see people putting their drunken vacation pictures and posting their political beliefs. People post a lot of stuff on Facebook that they may not necessarily want their employers to know about and to see.

Jaime: How have you seen folks in the business look to manage that delicate tightrope walk?

Jeff: We're seeing trends where candidates that are looking for work either change their name on Facebook to first name, middle name, or they set the privacy controls very restrictive, or they turn off their profile completely while they're looking for a job just so that it doesn't count against them. Especially in a tougher job market with higher unemployment, people want to give themselves every chance they can at getting a job.

Facebook creates a bit of a dilemma. And so, after seeing the clear benefits that LinkedIn has for executives, we are building Shiftgig to be the community for the service industry so that they have the ability to have a professional social profile for their professional work persona that is separate from their friends and family Facebook persona.

Jaime: So there's that clear separation?

Jeff: Yes, everything on a candidate's Shiftgig profile revolves around their work lives and their work experiences in terms of work histories, school history, ratings and reviews both from customers, from friends, coworkers and managers, references. Additionally, we're seeing that there's legislation going on in a few states where employers are prohibited from asking an employee's Facebook password, creating more separation between Facebook and employment.

Jaime: What's going on with your Social Influence tracker?

Jeff: We have a feature called Social Influence where the candidates can actually link their Facebook and Twitter and Foursquare accounts to show on the Shiftgig profile how many friends they have, what the magnitude is, without giving the employer direct access to their social media accounts.

Because especially in the hospitality industry, for example, a bar owner would be interested in a bar tender that has 4,000 Facebook friends, because they're more likely to help promote the place. Whereas a company hiring an accountant on LinkedIn doesn't care as much how many Facebook friends that accountant might have. We're able to solve that by providing a degree of separation where an employer can see the magnitude of somebody's social influence without having direct access to it.

Jaime: Are there any other features that you are using from the social world?

Jeff: Yes, we have a ratings and review feature that is similar to Yelp but for workers. We live in a world where the CEO of Yahoo lied on his resume. I'm sure that was after going through a few vetting processes. When you look in the service industry, the restaurant and retail owners and managers, they often don't have a lot of time to do a lot of vetting. That's one of the reasons why we focused on the service industry in that it tends to be very high volume, very low margin, very high turnover. Nationwide, the restaurants have an average of 80 percent turnover. Because it's very low margin and very high turnover, that's why a lot of restaurants can't use Monster or Career Builder paying $400.00 a job posted. It doesn't make as much sense if that host that they hired for $12.00 an hour may leave in a few weeks.

Jaime: How are you getting more folks to the site in terms of both the seekers and the employers? And are you rolling out one market at a time or can somebody from anywhere in the country just find it and start using it?

Jeff: Currently Shiftgig is open in that anyone can create a candidate profile and any employer can post a job. However, there are key cities that we are focusing on in terms of getting concentration. What we do when an employer posts a job, we also repost that job on Indeed, Simply Hired, and 20 other sites. So, we greatly increase the audience that an employer has for potential candidates. Especially in our new markets, our employers are able to get a significant amount of candidates.

Jaime: What about the revenue model? From what I saw, everything is free right now. What's going on?

Jeff: Well, we have a fremium model, which means that basic features will always be free. However, sometime next year we will be launching premium accounts for employers. Similar to LinkedIn in that you can use LinkedIn for free but there are premium features available, and that is primarily the revenue model.

Jaime: You recently closed a $3 million funding round to grow and expand. What are your plans as you look into 2013?

Jeff: The goal is for us to build the community for the service industry, and that funding will greatly help us get closer to that goal. We get a lot of positive feedback. In fact, on one of the walls outside of our office, we have testimonials taped up from all of the candidates that say how much they love Shiftgig. We've got testimonials of candidates say that Shiftgig is like a recruiter that works for them without them having to do anything, because they get job alerts and employers reach out to them, whereas there's no other service out there that would do that. So, we get a lot of goodwill from candidates and employers that we're making the service industry a better place. That's our goal in terms of creating this massive community of engaged users to further those features.

Shiftgig - http://www.shiftgig.com



Jaime Oikle is the Founder of RestaurantWebGuy.com and RunningRestaurants.com, a comprehensive web site for restaurant owners & managers filled with marketing, operations & service tips to help restaurants profit and succeed.



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