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Swipe right for a job? That’s how this Boise startup seeks to change how we find work

Jobu Jobs founder Josh Rhinehart hopes to rock the job-seeking world.
Jobu Jobs founder Josh Rhinehart hopes to rock the job-seeking world. kjones@idahostatesman.com

An unsuccessful effort to find a part-time job in college led Idaho’s Josh Rhinehart to his full-time job as the founder of a Boise tech company that wants to revolutionize how people look for work.

“I put in applications at seven businesses, posted on job boards with Indeed and Monster, and I didn’t get any feedback,” says Rhinehart, 22.

About half of job seekers never hear back from a prospective employer once they apply through a job board, Forbes has reported. “That’s because they’re being matched for the wrong jobs,” Rhinehart says.

And if you find a job you like, it may be unclear how to follow through: “You totally get lost in the weeds. I got frustrated. It should be easier.”

At the time, he was using popular dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble that let you swipe right if you are interested in someone. “Why couldn’t applying for a job be that easy?” he thought.

He took his idea to his father, Kelly Rhinehart, founder and co-owner of Roady’s Truck Stops in New Plymouth. Roady’s is a buying group and marketing firm that helps independent truck stops make purchases and market themselves collectively under the Roady’s banner. There are 372 Roady’s nationwide.

The senior Rhinehart thought his son had a good idea. So Josh Rhinehart went to the drawing board and came up with his business plan, which blends elements of popular social apps and platforms. Kelly Rhinehart invested. So did Truckstop.com’s Scott Moscrip and several other Idahoans.

“I immediately knew it has the chance to be a winner,” Kelly Rhinehart says.

The platform is named Jobu Jobs, and it will have a website and apps for iPhone and Android. (Jobu is pronounced joe-boo, like the identically spelled deity whose statue Dennis Haysbert’s character prays to in the 1989 comedy “Major League,” but CEO Alistair Rock says that’s just coincidence.)

If you’re a job seeker, you’ll upload your resume to create a profile that is more like a Facebook profile than a Linkedin one.

If you’re an employer, you will use Jobu’s job profiles. Jobu will prepopulate a listing, and you can tailor it.

Both employer and job seeker will get a notification when there is a match. Either can swipe right if interested, left if not. After swiping right, you can send a direct message and start a conversation, perhaps setting up an in-person interview. In the near future, employers will be able to use an on-boarding feature to allow a newly hired employee to fill out paperwork.

“We are going to be the disruptor,” Rock says.

‘Broken process’

Hiring is one of the most important and difficult tasks for businesses, and retaining employees is more difficult than ever, says Rock, 48, a tech-industry veteran the team brought in last year. In a recent Deloitte Human Capital Trends survey of executives, 61 percent said their companies do not do it well.

About 41 million people look for a new job each year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that is between 24 and 27 percent of the American workforce. Finding a job and hiring someone is a $200 billion industry.

Much of that turnover, Rock says, is because of a disconnect in how hiring happens.

“It’s a broken process,” Rock says. “Companies are hiring people, but they’re not the right fit, even though companies are going through the very expensive and laborious process to find them. Just reading resumes, setting up interviews, is on average a $4,000 process per candidate.”

How is Jobu different?

He says Jobu Jobs will be a smarter app with a scientific approach to recruitment that has been two years in the making.

Current online job boards use word association between candidates and job listings to make a match. That works to a point, but you end up with a large volume of applicants who aren’t truly qualified, says Stephen Cilley, an Idaho native who is on the Jobu board and is a partner.

If you list “program manager” as the job, then you’ll get everyone with “program manager” on their resume, and they may or may not have the specific experience and background you need.

“You list a job on Linkedin or Indeed and you’ll get 100-plus resumes, and 95 are not qualified,” Cilley says. “With Jobu, we’ll only send you those five profiles of people who actually are qualified.”

Jobu works through an artificial intelligence algorithm that mines decades of research and data from universities and government agencies to create job descriptions and lists of skills and desired qualities. “We call it the matching engine, and it’s our No. 1 differentiator,” he says.

Candidates post themselves and references for free, and they can voluntarily have a background check done, for a fee, to have their profiles “badged,” offering more information and credibility to prospective employers.

Cilley is the founder and CEO of Ataraxis, a Boise company that provides human-resources services for small businesses across the West. He learned about Jobu, the company, because Roady’s uses Ataraxis, at 600 N. Curtis Road. He wanted to partner with Jobu to offer recruitment and hiring services for his clients.

“I think this is going to be a behemoth once people understand that it’s not a normal job board,” Cilley says. “There is nothing else like it.”

A cheaper way

Jobu will cut the cost of recruiting and hiring, Rock says.

Hiring an employee can cost between $4,000 and $20,000 in human-resource hours, recruiting costs such as advertising, listing jobs on online boards and on-boarding, according to research by Deloitte. Listing on Indeed, for example, can cost up to $500 a month for one listing. (There are free listings, but they don’t get much exposure.)

Employers will subscribe to Jobu. A business with up to four employees will pay $25 per month for unlimited listings. Larger businesses will pay more.

Millennial in the room

Jobu is getting ready to launch the platform in Idaho next month with beta testing by students at Boise State University, College of Western Idaho and the University of Idaho, and more than 20 businesses, including Access Idaho, Blue Cross of Idaho and Agri Beef.

Rock is leaning on strategic partnerships he developed with ThisIsBoise.com, an event promoter; Trailhead Boise, a business incubator; and the Idaho Technology Council to get the word out.

Josh Rhinehart anticipates that employers will most likely use computers while applicants will use the app.

“People my age grew up with these devices that help us gather and share information,” he says. “We understand [tech] at its core.”

For now, he’s the youngest in the room. The members of his team are at least twice his age, he says, and that makes for a good balance.

“I have that millennial perspective that I think I know everything,” he says. “Having these more experienced guys around me keeps me humble.”

Dana Oland: 208-377-6442, @DanaOland

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