Most small-business owners feel the pain when it comes to competing with larger, well-resourced companies for top talent. Chris Hertz, the CEO of New Signature, a Washington, DC IT consulting firm, was in that camp and decided to do something about it.
“It occurred to me a year and a half ago that the way small businesses source employees had remained unchanged in my lifetime,” he says. Sure, there was lots of talk about how the Internet had changed recruiting, but was there really much difference between putting an ad in the newspaper and posting a job on, say, LinkedIn? Hertz thought not.
Recruiting Goes Social
Hertz knew that efficiency in any online marketplace comes through monetization, so he decided to build a recruiting website that rewarded participants for helping their friends and contacts find jobs. He started working on Barrel of Jobs
in 2011, and quickly brought in co-founders Julie Kantor, who had been the executive director of NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship), and Neal Lieberman, who had recently sold his iconic local company, Gifford’s Ice Cream & Candy Co. Using $750,000 of their own money, with the bulk of the investment coming from Hertz, the co-founders launched a minimally viable product in July 2012.
While Hertz says that Barrel of Jobs will ultimately be geared toward small-business owners, it was launched with several large companies, such as Comcast, Burger King, and The Advisory Board in order to get a critical mass of jobs on the site when it first launched. There are now 89 companies, small and large, that have listed approximately 2,000 jobs, most of which are entry-level and middle-management positions.
Companies list jobs for free and pay Barrel of Jobs a flat fee of $500 when a job is filled. That differentiates the company from most other job sites, which charge per listing. Companies can then refer the posting to their employees, who can share the posting with their friends via social networks. Barrel of Jobs tracks the sharing and creates a referral chain for each job. When a job is filled, $200 of the $500 fee is paid out to the network of people who helped fill the job. For instance, if I share a job on Facebook and one of my friends refers a successful candidate, I get $120 and my friend gets $80. Companies, says Kantor can “use Barrel of Jobs to supercharge existing employee referral programs or use the site as their referral system if they don’t already have one.”
To help get the word out about Barrel of Jobs, Hertz says the team is forging strategic partnerships with organizations that already have access to both job candidates and the small companies who would like to hire them. That includes honor societies, alumni associations and organizations such as the National Association of Women MBAs. Kantor has also been talking to AARP. “We were thinking about all the parents who have kids out of work,” she says. “But they told us that it takes, on average, 56 weeks for someone who is over the age of 50 to get a job. So kids can also go on Barrel of Jobs to help their parents.”
Also in the works, says Hertz, is a co-marketing campaign with a major software company that will use Barrel of Jobs to promote cloud software that helps companies more productively manage employees who work remotely. The company will give Barrel of Jobs exposure to its small-business clients.
Post-Election Marketing Push
With presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Barack Obama currently stealing most of the media thunder, Hertz and Kantor explain that Barrel of Jobs is laying low until after the election. Then, they say, they’ll be more aggressive about marketing and focus on the company’s primary mission. “If you look at the numbers, it costs small businesses twice as much as large businesses to recruit,” says Hertz. “They lack the funds to advertise, they have less brand recognition, and they don’t have the capacity to recruit internationally.” He hopes that putting a social spin on the process will help level the playing field.Photo courtesy of Barrel of Jobs.