The demand for talent is real, yet the hiring process isn’t nearly as efficient and effective as it needs to be. That challenge to make job hunting easier for qualified candidates is what has been keeping Rackspace co-founder Dirk Elmendorf busy in building Jobward, a new startup for job seekers.
Working alongside his brother and long-time collaborator Brett Elmendorf, Natalie Karney, and Drew Hicks, the co-founders seek to help job applicants match their resume to a job posting. The team’s research and app-building have taken about two years, as their earlier iteration last fall didn’t quite fit the bill.
The founders announced Jobward’s official launch during a San Antonio Startup Week panel.
“I had the idea originally when unemployment was at about 4%, before the pandemic,” Dirk Elmendorf said. “Businesses get flooded with resumes that don’t fit their job description. Our tool helps job applicants tailor their resumes to a specific job description.”
Hunting for a job often requires submitting highly tailored resumes. Jobward’s web-based Resume Generator helps job seekers create customized resumes to apply for a specific job.
After uploading a job posting’s description of duties, the Jobward app walks the user through identifying job criteria. After uploading a resume, users can match items from their personal history of past experiences and accomplishments to job requirements. The aspiring job applicant can then customize entries, which are saved for the next time the user needs to create a new resume.
Once completed, the free Jobward web application formats the completed resume into an optimized layout that employers and applicant tracking systems can scan quickly.
“Employers want resumes that are customized to job descriptions,” Hicks said. “But for candidates, that is a time-consuming, confusing process that often results in difficult-to-parse resumes.”
Karney, who worked with the Elmendorf brothers at their previous startup Brokerage Engine, said the app’s ‘plug and play’ functionality can help job seekers create a highly specific resume for a job description in many cases, about two minutes.
To make it through the first round of elimination, Hicks said, recruiters are looking for reasons to reject your resume. Despite having the required experience, many job seekers may find their resume eliminated by automated resume screening software because the applicant’s job history doesn’t match the job posting precisely.
Dirk Elmendorf tried to help developers find a new job and discovered the job screening bots were rejecting resumes from qualified developers. Using the exact words from the job description can help “show how much of an exact match you are to demonstrate you’re relevant to that recruiter,” Elmendorf said.
“The candidate needs to be relevant rather than impressive,” Karney added. “Tell your job history in a way that lets the recruiter know you are relevant to that job opening.”
The next steps for the Jobward team include developing a mobile version of Jobward and hiring and building sales teams, all while supporting workforce development efforts in San Antonio.
Jobward has already launched a pilot program in collaboration with Project Quest, a nonprofit individualized workforce training and development program in San Antonio.
“Jobward has been transformational,” stated James Cooper, a Project Quest employer engagement specialist. “It has absolutely made the difference in candidates struggling to tell their professional stories on their resumes, in some cases resulting in salary increases of three times or more for participants.”
Jobward is in talks with the City of San Antonio to support more workforce development efforts. The new startup has a free e-workbook on its website for job seekers and plans to publish a book summarizing their job-searching research.
“The skills to get a job can be different from the ones you need to do the job,” Karney said. “If we can teach job seekers the skills to get a job, we can help level the playing field.”
The featured image is of (from left) Brett Elmendorf, Natalie Karney, Drew Hicks, and Rackspace co-founder Dirk Elmendorf have launched Jobward, a new startup for job seekers. Courtesy photo.