We speak to Polina Montano cofounder of JOB TODAY the recruitment app, which helps people find a job for both long and short term employment in 24 hours. Polina talks to us about starting up and what inspired her journey as a tech entrepreneur. We also discuss key principles of running a business and what makes JOB TODAY unique in its approach to recruitment, with their approach of ‘connecting people with people’ rather than a CV to a job.
So if you are looking for a fresh start to 2019 why not see what JOB TODAY have to offer!
into_view: Hi Polina, please can you introduce yourself and your company Job Today?
I am Polina, a cofounder of JOB TODAY.
I am a bit of an unusual tech startup founder, I guess, as before launching JOB TODAY, I was working in a very traditional retail sector – this is where the idea for the app was born. I am what they call “ a serial entrepreneur”: was spinning off a number of ventures, mostly through franchising agreements in both fashion and consumer retail.
into_view: What inspired you to start the recruitment app?
I was running a chain of gas stations and experienced first hand a very common challenge for business owners: hiring staff on short notice. Whilst trying to solve the urgent hiring needs for the company, I used every existing solution out there on the market, yet nothing quite worked. My struggle came up in a discussion with my good friend and JOB TODAY Co-Founder, Eugene. He just could not believe me that in the world where technology is taking over every aspect of our everyday lives such a vital need as finding a job fast/ finding an employee fast has been left unattended, unchanged - and is still happening offline. After talking about the topic at length, we decided to take on the challenge of bringing efficiency and immediacy to hiring for millions of SMB businesses out there.
There are a number of particularities about hiring in retail and hospitality that make it so much more challenging than hiring in any other sector. The three key challenges are:
1) Immediacy of need - the success of any retail or hospitality business lies in its operational excellence. This is highly dependent on having right people in the right place at the right time and in many cases employers are faced with urgent vacancies to fill in a matter of hours.
2) Staff churn - sky high churn of staff can be up to 90% in some positions.
3) The human factor – staff are so important, particularly in the retail and hospitality sectors where they directly impact the customer experience.
And this is what we set out to solve.
into_view: Have you always had an entrepreneurial spirit?
Yes, I think it started early on.. My mum used to have a small travel agency when I was a kid.. in Russia back in those days, right after the Perestroyka ( change of political regime) - trust me it wasn’t an easy path to be an entrepreneur…Nobody really knew what that word was supposed to mean. Unstable political and economical situation, total unpredictability in terms of regulations, lack of legal protection…
And imagine a woman trying to run her own company … So I guess it all started for me back then - seeing my mother going for it and making it happen. After starting my first corporate job that I needed to pay for my studies - I very quickly realised that 9-5 just wasn’t my cup of tea. So pretty much as soon as I could - I went and launched my first business : I started with a fashion store :)
into_view: I read in your interview with Business Insider that you describe Job Today as a ‘job seeker’ market. What policies do you have in place to ensure that the job seeker is protected when job hunting and can find the right role and environment to suit them?
Today I see two main trends in recruitment industry: IMMEDIACY AND TRANSPARENCY.
Let’s start with ‘Transparency’. Both parties (of the recruitment process) want to know more about each other. Employers want to see character traits of candidates such as personality, reliability or motivation for example. Jobseekers want to know more about “how it feels like working at that company”, what do people who work there have to say, are they happy about how they are treated by their hiring manager/ employer, is it a “great place to work”?
Employer branding has never been more “IN”.
On transparency: we make it a priority to show all the key information about employer and the position that is offered to our users: schedule,hourly rates, location, picture of the workplace. With JOB TODAY - all the data that is essential for a job seeker to be able to make his first impression about the vacancy and evaluate it fast- is easily accessible and visible. We are also developing features that would enable both parties of the hiring process to know more about each other - can’t disclose it now, but stay tuned!
There is one more undeniable trend in hiring universe: IMMEDIACY. Overwhelming migration to mobile interface plays its role here : mobile stands for things happening right now and right here, at your fingertips.
There are a number of factors that fuel the increasing need for immediacy: shortage of candidates resulting in employers needing staff “ yesterday”, shift to mobile bringing the expectation “I want an answer now”, high churn and need for constant job hopping due to poor wages.
Today we are the unique hiring solution that is specifically designed to offer immediate results for both businesses that are looking to fill their vacancies fast as well to job seekers that are looking for jobs that are available right now. Overwhelming majority of “ matches” on the platform happens within 24 hours after job was posted.
At JOB TODAY, we are building a social hiring platform that is on the forefront of both trends. We believe in hiring being all about connecting humans to humans, not CVs to a job.
We commit to helping employers and jobseekers connect TODAY: because today is when it matters to them.
How do you think the recruitment industry as well as many others are going to cope with advancements in technology such as AI?
Personally, I do not share the dystopian view of jobless future. There are jobs, jobs everywhere. The unemployment rate in the developed world is down to 5.5 percent and approaching a 40-year low.
It is wrong to focus only on what is lost to competition and technology, without recognising what is gained. According to research carried out by McKinsey & Company, about a third of the new jobs created in the United States were types that did not exist or barely existed 25 years ago. Yes, some jobs will become redundant and disappear - yet many new jobs will appear, jobs that simply did not exist 20 years ago.. And no - not only for software engineers. Think about positions that would teach people how to use technology better, how to test it to make sure it works the way it should work (Q&A), customer service, online marketing, design etc etc etc ...
As to the impact of AI to hiring industry in particular, AI will help recruiters to programmatically attract candidates, algorithmically review and assess them. There are numerous companies out there doing it from different perspectives: personality tests for both roles and company culture, sophisticated matching and filtering tools, video interviews, even facial recognition technology to gauge the motivation and sincerity of candidates.
into_view: What are your future plans for Job Today?
We are building the world's popular mobile hiring service, that will help millions of people quickly find great workers and great jobs.
At JOB TODAY we are in a unique position to connect millions of jobseekers to open vacancies at local businesses around them. Not many people actually know that but today most of SMBs are still hiring offline: through a paper in the window “ staff wanted” leveraging their personal networks or relying on occasional walk-ins asking for vacancies.
(yes, people still print out their CVs and drop them off personally at venues around them).
That’s why most of the vacancies at those SMBs remain “invisible/ hidden” to new generation of jobseekers. JOB TODAY is bridging that gap. (connecting unique audience of employers ( SMBs) and unique audience of job seekers ( millennials looking for first experiences on labor market)
We aspire to be 10x better in solving urgent hiring needs through our products and services. We focus on hiring needs in the hourly/blue-collar job sectors. We are a specialist.
We start small and young. It's a choice and a strategy that for now is unique in the market. We aspire to be the online service of choice for young people to find their first jobs.
We want to keep helping our users with their job search throughout their adult life, helping them grow and growing together with them.
What do you consider the best things about being a founder/self-employed?...And what are the biggest challenges?
Best thing .. it makes you feel alive every day. And it becomes a lifestyle - not a job. As a famous philosopher once said : Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
Biggest challenge - as you will be creating your own path, inventing it as you go.. Be prepared to face all kind of challenges and know that you are the one that has to solve them. You have a dream and it’s yours to lose. No safety net.
into_view: Please can you give our readers, those who are looking to start their own businesses and to those seeking new jobs a piece of advice that you have learnt from your career journey?
If you are starting your own business:
Make sure you have an answer to these 2 questions:
Who is your customer?
You need to be very clear about who this is and determine who you are you building your solution for, as there is no such thing as “one size fits all”. Being a young company on the market your only chance to succeed is by being better in what you do, better than anyone out there. That’s why you need to focus, less is definitely more at this stage.
As a young startup, you will most likely have limited resources to your disposal, might it be cash or talent. Doing too many things at the same time is very likely to produce mediocre results, at best. Setting the right priorities for your business can be vital for your survival. Pick one do or die thing at a time and go for it.
Also - it is very important to listen to your customer >Once you have defined who your target customer is and who you are building your solution for, keep talking to them and most importantly, keep listening to them. Make sure you are building a product that actually solves their needs vs building a product that you want to build.
If you are starting a new career:
The biggest thing that holds people back from their career ambitions are barriers and limits they put on themselves. It happens way too often that people bypass dream-job advertisements by thinking they lack certain qualifications or experience needed to apply. Don’t let this happen to you!
Also, remember that reinventing yourself is important.
We are living in fast evolving world, and the job landscape is no different. People no longer spend their lives at one company, climbing the ladder. Technology is changing how we work and the jobs we have. Being able to adapt quickly to change is crucial to your success.
The Sky is the limit!