Drawing inspiration from unlikely places

Posted by Benjamin Grohé

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April 11, 2013

TheLadders mobile app team gets inspired from an unlikely source -- Ben Grohe explains.

In my last post, I wrote about why it’s important to challenge your existing assumptions when you build products for mobile devices. As I explained in that article, it is not enough to merely copy (web) functionality and make it look nice on a smaller screen; you have to first re-think what functionality is necessary for a mobile platform. Today, I want to talk about finding inspiration in new places.

When we started our competitive research early in 2013, we investigated every major job-search app within Apple’s app store. We wanted to see how they dealt with the unique challenges of mobile devices and, more importantly, solved the problems of their mobile customers. To be frank, we were disappointed. Most apps just replicated their trusted web experience: login, search for jobs, save or email jobs, and sometimes (if you already had a resume on file), you were allowed to apply using your phone.

Not only do these well-known job-search processes require significant time, they are tasks better managed on a desktop or laptop where you have lots of screen space –which is something you don’t have on your phone.

When we started wondering who else was trying to solve similar underlying problems, it didn't take long for us to draw correlations between the online job search and online dating. After all, they are based on the same premise of matching people and putting them in touch with each other. If you stop thinking about resumes, job descriptions, cover letters and applications, job search is exactly the same thing as dating. We want to put the right job seeker in front of the right employer. In dating, matching is based on things like height, weight, interests, hobbies etc. In the job search, matching is based on experience, skills, career desires, etc.

So, we did some investigating to see if there was any innovation happening in the dating space. To our surprise, there was. One app that has gotten quite a bit of attention lately is Tinder.

At the core, Tinder matches people based on their profiles, and then establish a connection between two people that “heart” each other (think “hot or not”). With that simple functionality, Tinder broke the conventions of countless other dating apps that require users to spend substantial time searching through dating profiles and sending messages to each and every person who appeared somewhat promising. Sound familiar? Yes, that’s exactly how most job-search sites function.

Now think about this paradigm in the job-search space. Why shouldn’t we first match job seekers with jobs and then ask whether they consider themselves a perfect fit for the positions? Then, once job seekers identify a couple of well-suited positions, we approach the employers to see if they agree. If both parties are in agreement, a connection is established, followed by resume (and possibly cover letter) exchanges if necessary.

See what’s happening? We take the work out of the job search. Let us do the heavy lifting and present you with initial matches so that all you need to do from your mobile device is tell us which opportunities you’re interested in. If the employer agrees, you two can take it from there.

Benjamin Grohé is the Head of Product at TheLadders, the premier mobile and online job-matching service for career-driven professionals. When he is not coming up with innovative ideas to delight our customers, he is celebrating his European heritage by cruising the streets of New York City on his Vespa or playing football (the REAL football). Follow Ben and TheLadders Dev team at @BenGrohe and @TheLaddersDev.

Topics: TheLadders Dev