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Need a job? There's an app for that, say DC startups

Team Vouched, with founder Keith Cooperman (center), aims to quantify employees' soft skills. It's one of a new crop of startups launching in the District aiming to make the job search easier

A sample Vouched profile showing character traits

MyJobDiscovery helps jobseekers figure out their next career step

Boastify, a souped-up portfolio page, is a new way for jobseekers to display their skills

Rasheen Carbin, cofounder of nspHire

nspHire aims to connect jobseekers and recruiters quickly

The Internet was supposed to make job-searching easier, but it hasn't delivered on that promise. D.C. startups--like startups all over the country--are seeking to fix that.
Looking for a job? You're not alone. According to the most recent numbers (October 2014) from the D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES), roughly 28,700, or 7.6 percent of people in the District's non-government workforce, are unemployed.

The thing is, jobs are out there, and people are applying. And applying. And applying. Ask those who recruit for positions and they will tell you. "Social Tables has grown from a company of 1 in 2011 to over 64 employees today," says Claire Harrington, Social Tables' manager of communications. "We're fielding upwards of 500 resumes a month for open positions in all departments."

It's ironic--current online hiring models were designed to make it easier for job seekers and recruiters to find one another. Sadly, in an age of proliferating job boards and auto-generated resumes, actual connections are hard to come by. Recruiters are frustrated by the sheer number of resumes that job posts generate, while those who apply feel as though they are sending their info into an abyss. Startups on both coasts--and everywhere in between--are addressing this pain point, and the winners are being rewarded with millions in venture capital funding. D.C. entrepreneurs are hoping to get in on the action with startups that help jobseekers quantify their soft skills, get quickly matched with a recruiter, or discover the next step in their career ladder.

We've already written about Vouched, an app that bills itself as "Klout for character" and is aimed at quantifying soft skills computer algorithms often leave far behind, and nspHire, an app built on LinkedIn's API that feels like the dating app Tinder, and matches recruiters and job seekers. Here are two other companies trying to improve your job search.

Boastify, cofounded by Dan Klueger, Mark Belluz and Jasen Dowell, is an online platform for individuals and companies to share their work with a wide audience. Boastify users upload a 20-second video elevator pitch instead of a static profile picture. Instead of a standard resume template, users upload articles and projects they've worked on, which creates a timeline—both of users' work histories as well as projects for the companies they've worked for.

"We want to help users brand themselves better, and expedite the hiring process," Klueger says. "A recruiter may receive 50 resumes for a position, interview 20 people and find that only two are perfect [for the job]." He says that Boastify allows people to better showcase themselves and their skills, "helping recruiters to drill down deeper into who the right candidate is."

Klueger and his team also hit on a different use of Boastify that has proven successful: a project-based company timeline that gives a "snapshot" of a company. "Most businesses don't track their own success," he says. "[Using Boastify to help businesses tell their stories] is where we're going to stay—the CEO and COO that don't have time to tell the company's best stories."

Boastify is also making a play for college students through its college ambassador program, in which the company sends representatives to campus to help students better understand how to brand themselves. "LinkedIn is useless for college students," Klueger says. "They don't have a professional network. [Their pages are] too much like a resume."

While Boastify's fee structure is still in flux, Klueger envisions that the basic platform will be free and a "managed, concierge-like service," akin to a LinkedIn premium account, will be fee-based.

If you are changing jobs, or want to know what other people with your skill sets or who have worked at the same company you’re currently toiling at have gone on to do, check out MyJobDiscovery. Created by Stephen Kratsios and launched at the end of October, MyJobDiscovery's platform uses LinkedIn's API to give users ideas of what next step they might take on their career path.

"LinkedIn only gives you results for people in your network, and you have to click on each individual person," Kratsios says. MyJobDiscovery aggregates data from all its users, who can then search that data by employer or school attended, and filter it by job title or field of study, to see which companies have hired people who came from another company or went to a particular school.

Kratsios says MyJobDiscovery is a part-time endeavor for the moment; he and his cofounder and bootstrapping the company and are trying to get as many users as they can. "We want to help people who are stuck find jobs."

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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