Amongst the current flood of digi-social-mobile ‘recruit-tech’ attempting to transform the job search by ditching old-school CV analysis for modern data science, a new invasion of job search apps has hit hard across the US, Europe, Australia and India.
But there are better ways to find the right professional work experience students need to progress- and if students are resorting to these apps, they’re probably just doing it wrong.
Aimed primarily at student/graduate job-seekers and copying Tinder’s no-nonsense approach to on-line dating, these apps boast higher-than-ever efficiency and consumer experience factors for job-seekers through use of basic user interfaces, geolocation and/or matching algorithms which attempt to instantly match them with suitable job vacancies in one fell ‘swipe’.
But is this harsh over-simplification of recruitment really the best way for students and graduates to find the professional work experience they need to progress?
Tinder-for-jobs apps have their place, say for instant, mobile job searching at basic levels or temp/contract work or in particular industries such as hospitality, retail and customer service. But gratifying our on-demand economy with the high-level mobile convenience of these apps doesn’t exactly help find a viable or long-term recruitment solution for Generation YZ. There’s a far bigger picture to consider.
Ever since Tinder technology hit, companies have been trying to make job search apps function like instant dating. But although it’s still a good overall concept, what may initially be a fun, simplified slant on a typically painful and boring process doesn’t have a lot of substance to it beneath the surface.
Tinder-for-Jobs apps simply just aren’t equipped to handle the realistic employability needs of today’s students and graduates. Removing recruitment formalities is a good thing, but finding jobs as a solid foundation for longer-term career development via geolocation, a quick skills and experience tagline and a nice profile picture as characteristic of these apps isn’t of any realistic benefit to our millennial generation who, although highly tech-savvy, still need to learn how to forge their own career path.
What we need are better solutions to issues both students and business organisations continue to face in connecting to fulfil each other’s specific needs. Under financial pressure of high tuition and student loans as well as the bleak graduate employment outlooks conveyed by the media, millennial students and graduates are looking harder and earlier to supplement their studies with quality professional experience in the world-of-work in line with their academic studies and career goals. As such, they’re likely to grow impatient with apps and platforms which don’t connect them to the right organisations and professional work experience opportunities they need to progress.
There’s a far wider scope of organisations out there willing to provide good experience than students and graduates probably realise, but so much opportunity is hidden and going to waste because students do not go about finding it in the right way and have no suitable tools to access it besides LinkedIn.
SMEs, NGOs, think-tanks, not-for-profits, start-ups and research organisations- locally, internationally and virtually- they’re desperate for fresh talent to come in and make strong impacts and help them meet business needs, particularly in arts and culture, policy and of course known skills-short industries like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
But these organisations are unlikely to use Tinder-for-Jobs apps to find fresh student talent. One hurdle is the fact that to so many businesses, personal referrals are still crucial, LinkedIn finally recognising this with the professional networking giant’s recent launch of Referrals. But add that to the employers and graduate recruiters (particularly in industries like finance or business and especially at anything above entry level) who don’t want to change their core job hiring or graduate recruitment processes, the ones who still harbour concerns about hiring from their smartphone, and the ones who are probably already annoyed by inundations of blind ‘swipe rights’ from completely unsuitable candidates (watch millennials play 'Tinder Roulette') and it will always be an uphill battle to get them to use these apps. Ultimately, employers will always be wary of the brutal on-line dating approach to hiring these apps are based on.
So if organisations aren’t prepared to use these apps to recruit millennial talent, and millennials won’t use them because they don’t let them access the type of opportunities they need, that’s a huge disconnect, not to mention market gap. The best way forward might, ironically, be to take a step back.
With more and more university graduates in America and Europe choosing internships, volunteering and entrepreneurship before and after graduation in hopes of avoiding the long task of finding a job in a world full of struggling economies, there’s huge open space for better recruitment technology for the pre-job and non-job markets. Not jobs or graduate schemes- work experience, internships, volunteering, mentoring, research, entrepreneurial collaborations- for high schoolers all the way through to career-changers. A data-based approach to better student-business matchmaking at this level, especially technology which has the ability to engage passive opportunity-seekers- now that could really disrupt the market.
Maybe it’s time students and graduates had their own technology which more effectively caters to their needs and expectations- faster, better ways for their generations to connect with business and individuals to discuss mutual benefit, no matter what type of opportunity they’re looking for.
Hiring interns, researchers, volunteers etc does not work like hiring professional staff, and millennials don’t expect to have to apply to vacancies anymore. The things employers need to look for in talent are far different at this level- it’s more about potential, attitude, motivation, values and culture fit than it is about skill competencies, experience and achievement. Tinder-for-Jobs apps don’t tend to incorporate this approach into either their design or functionality.
We should be encouraging students and graduates to show the things about themselves that really matter to businesses, prompting them to think about their personal qualities alongside their brand and digital footprint. Businesses can’t discover the important stuff about talent just by having a nearby student swipe-match a vacancy, and shifting in the balance of power across to the student will put millennials in a far better position to access hidden opportunity and create career connections themselves.
This would all help forge a deeper understanding of mutual needs- this is when the strongest matches with talent are made, and how longer-lasting working relationships are formed. Regardless of educational or socio-economic background, every student and graduate should feel confident that their personal attributes will guarantee them the opportunities they deserve, and they won’t be held back by over-competition or a lack of the right skills or experience. Whether this means that the companies (and the investors) behind Tinder-for-Jobs-style apps are likely to see the sort of user traction they’re hoping for remains to be seen, but most may face pretty short life expectancies.
Adam Dimitroff is Founder of Werkabee- the first global work experience and entrepreneurship matchmaking platform. Werkabee specialises in matching students, graduates, entrepreneurs and career-changers with the worldwide business and entrepreneurial community.
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