Searching for part-time jobs during the school year or securing a full-time summer position can be challenging for many high school and post-secondary students, especially if they go the traditional route of handing out resumes in person to various businesses.
To facilitate the job searching process for students and to help employers find good candidates for different roles, one Canadian startup has created a solution that it calls the “Tinder for jobs.”
Launched by brother-sister duo Alexander and Stephanie Florio in November 2017, Toronto-based Swob has developed an app that allows students to search for part-time, seasonal, and full-time jobs in the retail, food services, and hospitality industries. The app allows users to create a profile, answer a questionnaire, upload a resume, and identify their location to view a series of jobs that might be a good fit. Once a profile is created, users can swipe left if they don’t want to apply to a job or swipe right, and have their profile and resume be sent to the employer.
“I had started looking for other opportunities in the industry and through my own frustration is what kind of inspired the idea.”
Speaking with BetaKit, co-founder Alexander said Swob’s goal is to help students find jobs with the simple use of their phone. He said the team came up with the idea to launch Swob after spending several years working in marketing and public relations, and realizing that finding new opportunities within certain sectors can be frustrating.
“I was working at an agency in the city and I loved it. Fast forward a few months, things had changed and I just wasn’t enjoying the role anymore,” said Alexander. “I had started looking for other opportunities in the industry and my own frustration is what kind of inspired the idea. I remember still vividly coming home that night, talking to my sister about it and we thought okay, we might actually have something here and we never really looked back.”
Alexander added that he felt a greater need to create an app like Swob when he spoke with students and learned that they don’t always seek digital job boards to apply for positions.
“We were surprised that a lot of these students, their first thought when looking for jobs isn’t to go online. It’s not to go on other job boards. They simply print out a stack of resumes and spend an afternoon hitting the pavement, walking to malls, handing out resumes and they’re doing that not even knowing if certain places are even hiring,” said Alexander. “So one of the nice things about our app is that companies are posting jobs for a reason. They’re hiring. If they weren’t hiring, they wouldn’t have this job posted so if you do all the right things in your profile, you’ll most likely get called.”
“We were surprised that a lot of these students, their first thought when looking for jobs isn’t to go online.”
Since the app went live, Alexander said Swob has reached 10,000 active users and downloads, and that the company generates revenue through employers who post positions on the app. To date, Swob’s clients include McDonald’s, Tim Hortons, Bell Canada, Virgin Mobile Canada, Pizzaville, The Keg, Kelsey’s, Paramount Fine Foods, and others.
While Swob’s main goal is to help students find jobs, Alexander said the company also prioritizes making it easier for employers to post jobs and screen candidates. Currently, employers can go onto Swob’s website to manage the posting and removal of jobs, as well as the screening of applicants.
“On the employer side, if it’s not something that’s easy for them to use or understand, they’re not going to use it,” said Alexander, adding that he hopes to address challenges employers face when searching for candidates online through Swob. For example, when Alexander heard that an employer was posting a job in Toronto but receiving applications from people in Vancouver, the team decided to solve the problem by creating a Swob feature called “Maximum Applicant Distance,” which allows employers to filter the location and distance radius they are seeking candidates from.
“One of the things that we always said was, we want to create a tool that we ourselves would use if we were hiring and I think that one of the big things for us that has really helped us along the way is meeting with employers before we even launched and getting their feedback,” said Alexander. “I think it really helped us put together a tool that is really easy to understand. We’re really trying to push the fact that it is simple to use, and you don’t have to go through stacks of resume. It’s all centralized.”
According to Alexander, Swob became the first Canadian company to win Virgin Mobile’s Pitch to Rich contest, through which it received $10,000 and advice from Virgin Mobile founder Richard Branson. Alexander said the Pitch to Rich contest took place in Canada for the first time, and has previously been held in the US, UK, and Mexico.
Alexander and Stephanie sat down with Branson to explore how the mobile generation is disrupting how people access traditional resources such as job boards. “One of the things that [Branson] had mentioned that had kind of stuck with us is that we asked him ‘What kind of advice do you have for us?’ and his response was ‘I don’t have any advice for you guys. Keep doing what you’re doing, you’re doing it,” said Alexander. “And he actually said that we reminded him of him when he was younger, so hearing that was amazing because it kind of gives you that validation for all the hard work that you’re doing, so it was really humbling and really rewarding.”
Since winning the Pitch to Rich competition, Swob has expanded to British Columbia and Alberta, and Alexander said he hopes the app will continue to expand across the countries as more employers and students learn about it.
“We’ve expanded throughout Alberta and BC and had a bunch of employers sign-up over there,” said Alexander. “Now we’re really working hard in terms of our marketing efforts to spread the word now to job seekers there and so we’ve been going. It’s been all good and we’ve been working hard to make sure that we keep those companies happy.”