If you listen to podcasts, chances are you already know about ZipRecruiter. The leading online marketplace for employers and job-seekers, ZipRecruiter has done an excellent job of using podcast advertising to promote their brand. This is only one way its business model has taken advantage of the latest technological trends, as I discussed in my enjoyable and far-ranging conversation with the company's CEO and co-founder, Ian Siegel, for my FUTUREPROOF. podcast (shameless plug: be sure to listen and subscribe to get your episode of FUTUREPROOF each week).

Investigating the (Exciting? Scary?) Workforce of Tomorrow

ZipRecruiter at its inception didn't much resemble the way it is today. It started as a much more traditional recruitment site, back in 2010. What it brought to the market was a focus on distributing a job posting to as many places on the internet as possible, all with a single click. But two years ago, Siegel says, they discovered they may have created "almost too much of a good thing." Companies were happy when they found 30 qualified candidates, but if they were given 50 or 60, recruitment started to feel like a chore.

In response, ZipRecruiter began investing millions of dollars in AI and data research. They shifted their focus from delivering the most candidates to using their new deep learning tools to deliver the right candidate. ZipRecruiter uses the technologies which now pervade the web--from Netflix's recommendation algorithms to YouTube's video suggestions. But instead of helping you find more Reese Witherspoon movies, it helps job seekers take the leap to the next stage of their careers.

This new approach was transformative for the company. But, as Siegel points out, it also has the potential to transform people's lives--which is why he says ZipRecruiter is "the greatest company he has ever worked for." If you've ever been on a job hunt, you know how dispiriting it is to apply for position after position but hear nothing back. Job seekers call this "the black hole." But with ZipRecruiter, the black hole ceases to be a problem. Because ZipRecruiter finds the jobs which applicants are most qualified for, job seekers are far more likely to get some kind of response.

But ZipRecruiter isn't just helping people connect with the jobs they are qualified for. They are also helping people deal with a rapidly changing employment market. It's no secret that the current wave of technological innovation is changing society and work in fundamental ways; some jobs that previous generations counted on will, quite frankly, move in the direction of obsolescence. But, as Siegel points out, that same technological change is also creating all kinds of other strange and exciting positions. This change is so rapid it's almost impossible to predict what kinds of work and specific roles will be available in the future.

App development is a perfect example of this unpredictability. Apple's App Store debuted on July 10, 2008 - a little over ten years ago - initially with a scant 500 applications available for download. Fifteen years ago, who could have predicted that developing small-scale pieces of software for smartphones would be a viable career path? But today, more than 300,000 people make their living developing the apps that power the $30 billion-a-year app economy. What technological innovation will be the next App Store? Siegel points to two products with the potential to create revolutionary industries: drones and 3D printers. Both of these are rapidly emerging job categories whose potential is not yet clearly defined.

ZipRecruiter is committed to helping people find these sorts of positions, jobs that might not have existed even five years ago, like drone operator or cannabis horticulturist. The problem is that there is often a big split between what companies are looking for in new employees, and the skills or desires of people looking for work.

ZipRecruiter tries to narrow this gap by showing potential employees jobs adjacent to their searches--jobs which might require just one or two new skills in order to make them a perfect candidate. These jobs often require skills (like learning to write SQL) that could be picked up in a trade school or six-week training bootcamp. By linking people up with these "new collar" jobs, ZipRecuiter is helping as many people as possible participate in the future of work.

Even if you aren't looking for new employees or a new job, ZipRecruiter is an important company to track if you're at all interested in the future of work. I've found that even by looking over what's being listed on the site can give me a great sense of what's to come. The question is, are you prepared? Are any of us?

Published on: Sep 13, 2018