The perfect fit: The Good Jobs matches employers and employees based on company culture

To Anne Nimke, the way that job seekers go about finding their perfect match these days is more than a little backwards. As the co-founder of an online jobs-matching service called The Good Jobs, Nimke is eager to question why the way people search for homes, where they spend roughly two-thirds of their lives, is so radically different from the way they find their workplaces, where they spend the other third.

“When people are shopping for a house, they don’t start by looking at the number of bedrooms and baths the house has,” said Nimke, who co-founded The Good Jobs with fellow Milwaukeean Betsy Rowbottom. “They identify the neighborhood where they want to live first. So they go ahead and identify, do they want sidewalks, do they want a certain kind of school district, do they want a metropolitan or urban or suburban or rural area? How far do they want to be from downtown? How long is the commute?

“So they identify those kinds of things, and then they look to the bedrooms and the baths. But job seekers don’t have that opportunity. Right now they’re just given information about the daily tasks that they’re going to do, and what the company expects them to have in terms of education and experience. And The Good Jobs gives you the information about the neighborhood where they’re going to go and work at every day.”

In essence, says Nimke, her service is about matching job seekers with employers based on company culture – a factor that’s critically important to job seekers and a keen advantage to many employers, but which is often all but overlooked when the perfect employee is looking for that perfect workplace.

“Actually, Betsy and I have both been in the recruiting industry for a number of years,” said Nimke. “All of the avenues that job seekers and companies have focus on job skills, so ‘do you have this many years of experience in a specific position or profession? Do you have this degree? Do you know how to do these skills?’ And personally, I found that I was most motivated and most successful when not only was I doing the right skill in my job, but was aligned with what the company believed in and what they stood for and how they ran a business from a cultural standpoint.

“So in looking at how a job seeker finds out that information, usually it’s not shared until an in-person interview or a tour of the office or maybe even sometimes during the orientation program, so we wanted to give an avenue for job seekers very early in the search process to be able to find out that very important information so they can align their personal and their work style with a company they’re going to work with.”

Engaging employees

So how does The Good Jobs facilitate these modern workplace marriages based on love? Through the Web, of course – where people are increasingly seeking perfect products and matches these days anyway.

At thegoodjobs.com, Nimke and Rowbottom have begun assembling a “culture directory” – a list of companies that includes their cultural features and strengths. Those features are communicated through a series of seven “badges” – “Fun,” “Extreme Perks,” “Corporate Responsibility,” “Flextime,” “Green DNA,” “Inclusion,” and “Career Development” – that companies can earn by demonstrating how they excel in those areas.

For example, a company that allows dogs at work or plans frequent employee celebrations might qualify for the Fun badge, whereas a company that allows for company-paid volunteer time and hosts a lot of corporate-sponsored charitable events would likely earn the Corporate Responsibility badge. Those badges are highlighted underneath a company logo and some basic company information, and interested users can click through to a page with more details on that company’s culture. So a prospective employee who’s more interested in available flextime or a workplace that welcomes diversity than in frequent office parties can easily sort through the companies that might be the best fit for him or her.

According to Nimke, it’s not just the rise of the Internet that makes the time ripe for a service like The Good Jobs, but the zeitgeist of the working world as well. In addition, employers are more motivated than ever to keep their best employees satisfied.

“We all spend a lot of time at our place of work doing the job that we have, and there may have been a time and day that individuals compartmentalized their life from their work, in that they could be very unhappy in their work and still lead the life they wanted to lead,” said Nimke. “Today, individuals, regardless of what generation they’re in, are looking for meaningful work that aligns with their life choices, so we do feel that it’s critically important, not only with productivity but engagement.

“There’s some studies out now that say only 30% of the workforce is actively engaged positively with the job they have, and that the more engaged an individual is, the more productivity they have and the more their attitude is positive to not only doing the work but to their coworkers and their superiors and their customers, so engagement and having satisfaction at work certainly does affect the success an organization can achieve.”

Increasingly, employees are not just thinking about whether they’ll be happy in a particular work situation, particularly if they have to spend more and more hours at the office or on their laptops; they’re also considering whether a company’s values will align with their own.

“There’s a big shift in the last, say, 10 to 15 years, and especially with people new to the workplace,” said Rowbottom. “They saw their parents working on their cell phones and working on their laptops until they fell asleep. And as more and more of those people enter the workplace, they’re very selective about a company that they’re going to spend so much time at.

“The whole work style has changed so drastically. Now people really ask, is the company creating products that I care about? Are they making a positive impact? Is this a place where I share values with coworkers? All of those things are much more important than they were a generation ago.”

 

Gathering laurels

But while The Good Jobs launched its site only recently (in January), Nimke and Rowbottom have been working diligently behind the scenes for some time. The company itself launched in 2009, and has done its due diligence. It was recently approved by the WEDC for Qualified New Business Venture tax credits, which make investors in the company eligible for a 25% tax credit on the amount they invest in the business, and it has also received plenty of accolades, winning the 2012 iTalent Competition at the HRO Today Forum, nabbing first place in Startup Wisconsin’s competition for emerging companies, and landing on #hrwins’ list of top HR companies to watch for 2012.

Of course, in a time of stubbornly high unemployment, skeptics might wonder whether this idea is one whose time has not quite come. Given the skills shortages that exist in some regions and industries, however, Nimke is confident that The Good Jobs website is ready for prime time.

“There are probably 5 million positions open right now in the United States,” said Nimke, “so there’s a skills gap and there’s a shortage in certain regions in skills. So this isn’t about the individual who is a desperate job seeker who is looking for any job because they can’t find work. This is for a discerning job seeker who is saying, ‘I’m going to make choices about where I bring my talent.’”

Then again, The Good Jobs might be hitting the market at just the right time, if improving economic indicators start to signal employers that now’s the time to hire. The Good Jobs’ paid clients are all on the employee side, with job seekers using the site to find their ideal workplaces. If the leverage that employers have had in hiring in the past few years starts to tilt toward workers, companies’ interest in finding better recruiting tools may begin to intensify. Luckily, The Good Jobs makes it pretty easy for companies to sign up – just go over to the website and fill out a two-minute questionnaire.

“I think that the job seekers who are in short supply will end up being in the driver’s seat and will end up having multiple opportunities and will really make conscious decisions about where they’re going to bring their talents,” said Nimke. “So I think having a site that allows companies to promote what they’re doing for their employees will be a great benefit to those employers to position themselves as an opportunity for those job seekers.”

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