Borrowing from Online Dating Sites to Match Job Seekers With Employers

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By Mary Ellen Slayter
Sunday, August 17, 2008

Whether you're working your network via e-mail or scanning online classifieds every morning over coffee, chances are the Internet plays some role in your job search these days.

But most Web sites, including Monster, Craigslist and members-only postings for trade associations, are still based on the classic bulletin-board model. "Looking for a job" on these sites consists primarily of tapping in keywords and weeding through whatever listings pop up.

One upstart, RealMatch, takes a different tack. Billing itself as the "eHarmony of the employment industry," RealMatch borrows techniques from dating sites to more efficiently match employers and workers using standard descriptions of skills, employment history and job preferences.

The service is free for job seekers. Assuming you already have the basic information about your job and education history handy, building a profile takes just a few minutes. RealMatch's system is a great deal less cumbersome than many competing sites'.

(Note to job-board software writers: The biggest time-wasters are the sites that attempt to swallow a résumé whole and automatically drop it under the appropriate headers. Save my time and yours by letting me copy and paste text directly into each field. It can take hours to undo a poorly designed program's mistakes.)

Choosing a particular job title pulls up an associated group of skills common in that field, and you specify your level of talent in each. Further prompts ask you for details about your job history, education, relevant hobbies and so forth.

Meanwhile, employers create profiles for the jobs they want to fill, using the same menus for associated skills and experience levels.

That common language of titles and skills eliminates the guesswork inherent in keyword searches. You won't miss out on great jobs because you (or the hiring manager writing the ad) made a typo, and civil engineers won't waste time reading ads for "maintenance engineers."

Once your profile is saved, RealMatch's software looks for overlap with current ads and presents the results to both the job seeker and the employer ranked by the quality of the match: "great," "good" or "basic." The more information you add about yourself, the more likely you are to get an appropriate match, the company promises.

Job seekers can then either initiate a conversation with matching employers or wait to hear from them. I suggest the more active approach. Here, as on other job sites, the odds still favor the employers.

The site does have a few drawbacks, namely in the number and variety of jobs available. RealMatch launched as a standalone online job-search site in May, but a sister program already runs more than 1,000 newspapers' job market sites, giving RealMatch a jump-start on attracting listings. (The Post is not among those newspapers.)

I expect the number of jobs to grow on this site, as well as on other free sites -- and I mean free to the employer, not the job hunter -- given the minimal upfront investment needed. With RealMatch, employers pay only when they find a specific candidate in whom they are interested, a strong enticement to post their jobs there instead of relying only on what company execs dub the "pay, post and pray" approach of most job sites.

And that's a sentiment that should appeal to job seekers as well.

Your Web Searches

Tell me about your online job searches. Which sites do you turn to most often? Which sites drive you crazy? Have any new sites caught your eye lately? If you're willing to share your experience for a column on the subject, e-mail me at slayterme@washpost.com. Please include your full name and an evening phone number. No attachments.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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