Want To Eradicate Joblessness? Let Jobs Find People

25 Aug Want To Eradicate Joblessness? Let Jobs Find People

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We will create the world where jobs apply for people, instead of people applying for jobs.

It is not human nature to make human beings fit into slots. For hundreds of thousands of years, we have been hunters and gatherers. For thousands of years, we have created our own business enterprises and opportunities, we have moved, and adapted. In the last few decades, things started to change. Over the last 100 or so years, industrial workers were hired as a name and a number so companies could scale. In the last 60 years, people started working in cubicles for the first time. They had specific hours to arrive and leave. Job applications increased while job openings decreased. Job postings were specific to a title. If you did not fit into a certain box, you had no chance of gainful employment. Nine out of 10 of those individuals ‘lucky’ enough to get a job were unhappy and not fulfilled.

I have not been around for hundreds of years. I have been around for 33. For most of my life, I followed the traditional path. I went to a private high school and college. Then I went to law school. I got a 9-5 job after graduating from law school.

I was 28 the first time I took a real chance with my career. I left a well-paid and stable job in New York City to start my own business in San Francisco. I liked my job and my boss but knew I wanted to follow my life’s dream of being a speaker and a writer. This much was clear, but I had no idea what to do next, where to begin. All of the hundreds of thousands of dollars of college and graduate education do not prepare you to start your own business. Were these degrees helpful or useful? I don’t know. But I didn’t have much time to think about it because San Francisco was expensive and I was running out of money. I was pretty good at 5 things. I loved public speaking, could write well, pull together loads of seemingly unrelated data and tell a compelling story. I could see how people could help each other, and knew those young professionals connected with my message. Even with these talents, I could not think of how to pull them all together. I dreaded the moment at a networking event when people would ask me what I did. I was at a loss for words. I did so many things, at least in my mind. I could not explain them, and the money was out.

One month, I did not have enough money to pay rent, so I used Airbnb to rent out my place. I would go sleep on friends’ couches. I used the profit I made on my apartment to not only pay my rent check but to eat and invest some back into the business. I did this several times during my first two years. It was not fun, but it kept my business alive long enough for me to start to package my services and figure out what I was selling. It kept the lights on long enough for me to give a TEDx talk. A few months later, I was invited to write for Forbes Magazine. A year later, I was asked to speak all over the USA, and then the world. I no longer had to rely on Airbnb to pay the rent and buy groceries. I had a viable business, four years and a lot of mistakes later.

As I think back on this experience, I ask myself one question. What would I have done if I did not have a nice apartment to rent on Airbnb? Most of the world does not have the luxury of a nice apartment to rent, or a JD to fall back on when the money runs out. I had a ‘life insurance’ policy of a good education and a fair amount of high-level connections. Not everyone else has the same resources. Should they be punished or paralyzed by the fear of failure that stands in the way of doing what they love?

The answer should be ‘No.’ But it is not. The sad reality is this is not the case in our current economic landscape. The good news is we can level the playing field. We can create equal opportunity for everyone to do something they want. You can avoid the professional grooming and perhaps even the formal education. You don’t even have to sleep on a couch to make your dreams come true.

Vint Cerf, father of the Internet and David Nordfors started the Innovation for Jobs leadership forum, i4j. They say that the large numbers of unemployed and unhappy workers are an underutilized resource and customers for better jobs. They invented Jobly, a vision of a company that tailors jobs for people. Similar to a dating site, you as the job seeker express your interests, passions, and skill sets, and Jobly finds the perfect match. Then they take a percentage of the money you make. If you notice, this is much different than the current job seeking process; one in which the job seeker tries desperately to fit into the ‘box’ the employer has created in order to secure the job. Jobly find jobs that want your exact skill sets and connect you. Then they take a percentage.

These questions are precisely why I am looking forward to ‘The Innovation for Jobs Summit’ at the end of January. I want to learn how we can create a people-centered economy where we all make money helping each other make money.

When I was sleeping on friends’ couches and renting my own apartment, I would have gladly paid for this service. The girl who just left her tech job to pursue her love for dance would probably pay for this service, as well. The founders of Jobly are incentivized to find people work they love. The job seeker is incentivized to hone their skills and clearly communicate their desires. Those offering the jobs get talented applicants who are excited about working for them.

That’s a win-win-win. That’s the future of jobs.


These are the opportunities that will be discussed at the Innovation for Jobs Summit (link) on January 27-29 in Silicon Valley. To reserve your spot today (space is limited), contact David Nordfors at david@iiij.org

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