FOR the past decade or so, there has been little change in the way employers seek out potential hires and jobseekers.
Traditionally, job search portals have been web-based offerings that largely revolve around text, as employers advertise job openings with outdated descriptions, all in the hopes of finding the right candidate.
“A lot of SMEs and young businesses benefit a lot from advertising with us as they get quality applications that they can’t get when they try other methods,” says Toh
Wobb Sdn Bhd founder Derek Toh, who was a top recruiter in Robert Walters before he became an entrepreneur, realised there was a big problem that employers and jobseekers faced when it came to recruitment.
“For employers that were advertising jobs, it was hard to attract good talents to apply, especially if they’re not very well known. For jobseekers, it was difficult to decide which jobs to apply to, as job descriptions tend to look identical.
“I wanted to create a simple, better way for them to meet and interact with one another before even scheduling the first job interview,” he shares.
He then quit his job to start a blog called Working on Bean Bags (Wobb) in late 2014. Around the same time, he qualified as part of the pioneer batch for the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre’s e@Stanford innovation and entrepreneurship programme.
In its first version, the blog aimed to profile companies that attracted a younger generation of talent such as Gen-Y, starting with 10 companies.
The definition of millennials, also known as Gen-Y, are those born from the 1980s to 2000s, with the oldest Gen-Y individuals reaching their early 30s and the Gen-Z born from the year 2000 onwards.
The start-up launched with a website and mobile app in mid-2015, but has grown by leaps and bounds. Toh says it has received over 200,000 applications thus far, and has an average of 500 to 1,000 job advertisements per month.
It currently has about 55,000 users and 3,000 registered employers on its platform. Some of the most well-known employers include corporations such as Shell, AirAsia, Oracle, as well as Procter & Gamble.
Wobb successfully raised RM1.64 mil on Aug 16 via PitchIn’s equity crowdfunding (ECF) platform to fund its next phase of growth. Prior to that, the start-up received RM650,000 from Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd’s CIP 150 Catalyst product development grant and CIP 500 commercialisation grant.
The platform offered free job postings in its first few months but the start-up started charging for its various offerings and services in January last year and made RM700,000 in revenue in its first year.
Traditional ways of hiring involves a lot of hit-and-miss, with employers and jobseekers assessing each other at the interview stage, which takes up a lot of time.
Wobb emphasises on company culture and transparency, enabling jobseekers to browse jobs on their smartphones and take virtual tours through company profiles hosted on its platform. There is also a built-in chat function within its app, so jobseekers and employers can communicate with one another even before setting up an interview.
By doing so, it hopes to help jobseekers and employers find the right fit faster.
“A lot of SMEs and young businesses benefit a lot from advertising with us as they get quality applications that they can’t get when they try other methods,” he says.
While there are many large companies that use its platform, the core of its employer base is with small to mid-level employers.
Focusing on growth
Locally, Wobb is embarking on a full sales and marketing mode since it has completed its ECF fundraising round. From the amount raised, Toh shares its upcoming plans, include building and hiring a new sales team and seeking new avenues of advertising to widen its database of jobseekers and employers.
In terms of product development, it is currently working on its Big Data and artificial intelligence (AI) features, including a virtual interviewer to automatically select job applicants and help companies decide on the right applicants within a shorter period of time.
He adds, “It’s the next big thing for us. When we get to scale and we launch this [virtual interviewer], employers will really see the gap between what we’re doing and what existing platforms are offering.”
It has plans to expand regionally but is looking for the right timing to leverage its partnership with LinkedIn in Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. Within the next six to 12 months, it wants to enter the Philippine and Indonesian markets by working closely with LinkedIn.
“Our mission is to be the number one job platform in Asia championing the future of work. A future that includes Gen-Y and Z, company culture, Big Data, AI and mobile technology. A future where finding a job you love is only one swipe away,” he says.
Culture as a pull factor
DURING its early days, Wobb Sdn Bhd founder Derek Toh says only a small group of companies adopted workplace culture as a strategy to attract talent, which made it a challenge to sign on employers. There was also misconception around it, where companies believed it was about company perks or office layouts.
“There are a lot of companies that confuse company culture with Google, pool tables, bean bags and free food, but it’s not. It’s just about how the environment is like or who’s working in your company.
“Every company is different and as a jobseeker, offering that transparency and insider’s view on what the company is like can be part of employer branding, which makes it more accessible for the right talents to start applying there,” he opines.
Company culture plays an especially important role in the fierce war for talent in Malaysia, as part of an employer branding strategy to help differentiate them from other employers in the market, which is where Wobb comes in.
Moreover, via the company profiles, only those that are keen to join a company after seeing its culture would apply for the positions. This means there is a higher level of quality applications and resumes that employers receive, instead of taking a quantity-based approach.
Another challenge he highlights was the polarising perceptions surrounding the Gen-Y talent pool, as Wobb focuses on social media platforms as a channel to acquire jobseekers.
“The topic of Gen-Y is very polarising. It’s seen by some as a negative term and that has created some challenges for us in terms of acquiring talent,” he adds.
That said, such negative perceptions have lessened over time and the start-up focuses on companies that believe in hiring Gen-Y and are invested in getting them onboard.
Thus, when it comes to the company profiles on its platform, employers that are keen to attract a younger generation of talent put heavy effort into photos and videos to promote their workplace cultures as they “clearly” see talent as an asset.
“Profiles on Wobb focus on what it’s like to work in the company, why jobseekers should be working there and very little about the business. The context is heavily skewed to culture, working environment and vision of leadership,” he says.