Millennials inspired by Chicago’s ‘Tinder for jobs’; employers doubtful

By Laura Furr

Gionni Crawford, 20, is looking for a job.

A recent graduate from Specs Howard School of Media Arts in Southfield, Michigan, Crawford will be relocated from his job as a cellphone vendor at his hometown Target in Detroit when it closes at the end of the month.

A self-described “hustler,” Crawford said he is trying to land a full-time sales position by using all possible platforms including nspHire—a new Chicago-based mobile job-matching app that uses Tinder’s “swipe right” feature to encourage communication between job seekers and hirers.

The goal: to employ millennials.

Crawford, who began using the app shortly after its release in October, said he appreciates nspHire’s usability.

“It’s meeting people where they already are,” he said “You don’t have to be highly qualified to use it. It’s different from traditional platforms so it gives you an edge.”

But while 10,000 job seekers, like Crawford, have flocked to the app in the past three months, employers have not.

Since joining the app, Crawford has received only five “matches” and has communicated with one employer.

Rasheen Carbin, CMO and co-founder of nspHire, confirmed that the app currently hosts only 80 employers. It has landed jobs for 10 users.

“It’s very easy to get candidates but it’s harder to get employers,” Carbin said. “Especially if you want them to do something that they’re not used to doing.”

According to Carbin, the app was created to benefit both employees and employers.

He said that he and co-founders Dan Mullaney and Darryl Glover, who previously worked on an app to place MBA graduates with short-term work, were determined to create a system that would help combat what he sees as millennials’ pessimistic outlook on the job market.

“Millennials are very conversant in mobile,” he said. “We thought that this was a good chance to be able to reach people wherever they are at any time.”

He added that they want to make it easier for employers to sift through the hundreds of applicants they saw per job posting, quickly “matching” them with candidates.

“One of the things we learned that led us to nspHire was that speed was very important,” Carbin said. “[Hirers] normally went with who was qualified and came first or second.”

But Carbin said he, Mullaney and Glover realized that the transition to a completely mobile hiring process might have been too drastic, as most recruiters are “reliant on old school approaches.”

“You naturally assume it’s such a good idea that people would flock to it,” he said. “We didn’t account that this is totally new for [employers] and we need to ease them into the process.”

However, employers and fellow app creators said that nspHire’s problems lie elsewhere.

Christine Bedalow, director of talent acquisition at Lyons Consulting Group in Chicago, said she suspects employers are not holding out on nspHire because of its mobile element, but because they simply don’t have a use for it.

“Any app today should have the ability to solve a problem; that’s what you build your brand on and that’s what you promote yourself on,” said Bedalow, whose company builds apps and websites for midsized companies.

Bedalow hired more than 100 people for Lyons in the last 13 months and plans to hire about 50 more employees this year. She said platforms such as LinkedIn and internal applicant tracking systems, which she said she uses on her computer and mobile device daily, have already solved nspHire’s problem.

“My biggest question with the app would be: ‘Why would you think your app would even match LinkedIn when it is the largest global networking site ever?’ ” she said.

Reilly Davis, creator of an almost identical San Francisco-based app, said employers challenged him with the same type of questions.

“It was an additional thing in [employers’] workflow,” Davis said. “They use LinkedIn and applicant tracking systems. They didn’t need another tool.”

Though his app, Emjoyment, shut down in August due to low employer buy-in, he said there still needs to be a change in the way people find jobs.

“I feel like it’s one of those fields where a lot of companies want to disrupt it and make it better,” he said. “It’s very slow moving and there are many ingrained behaviors.”

Carbin said despite their initial setbacks, they plan to be this disrupter.

The co-founders are in negotiations with a job aggregator in Kansas with hopes of adding up to 4 million new jobs to the app in the next two months. They are also working to add a Web element to appeal to employers.

“We are learning new things every day,” Carbin said. “One of the interesting things about starting a business is you are constantly having your assumptions questioned or proven wrong.”

As for Crawford, he is taking a similar approach and is staying committed. He plans to continue to use the app for his job search.

“I’m going to have to adjust and adapt to the changes,” he said. “It seems like maybe this was a sign. Maybe there is something greater for me out there.”