Matching for Jobs at the Deepest Level, or Maybe Not

Photo: online job matchmaking

Imagine that you've got a hot online profile -- so hot, in fact, that hundreds, maybe thousands, are vying for your attention.

For lovelorn online daters, that may sound like a dream come true, but for employers using Internet job boards to fill spots during an economic downturn, the idea is decidedly less romantic: As exciting as it may be to have a huge applicant pool at your fingertips, taking the time to sort the studs from the duds can be daunting.

Enter job matchmaking sites. Sites like the five-year-old and new company, say that, much like the dating site, they match their clients -- in this case, job candidates and employers instead of singles looking for love -- based on information gleaned from online profiles and questionnaires. The result? Only qualified candidates, the Web sites claim, make the cut.

It's unclear whether sites like Jobfox and Bintro have a chance at supplanting more traditional job boards. But some say that at a time when nearly one out of 10 Americans are unemployed and many are applying to job postings for anything and everything, such sites are especially valuable. They act as gatekeepers.

"It's just nice to not have to wade through tons of resumes," said Rachel Corwin, a recruiter and employment coordinator for Washington Athletic Club, a fitness center and hotel in Seattle that employs some 350 people. The club has been a Jobfox customer for just over a year and has hired two employees through the Web site.

The site, Corwin said, is free of the "serial applicant" -- the type who "apply for a bunch of positions but don't meet the qualifications."

"There's not a lot of wasted time processing connections that aren't relevant," said Shane Hankins, the executive director of the non-for-profit and a Bintro customer.

In online dating terms, it may be the equivalent of a service that steers you clear of, say, promiscuous daters and highlights those who really think they have what it takes to make a relationship work.

Breaking the Ice on a Job Search

The online dating comparisons don't end there. While the majority of questions included in Jobfox and Bintro applications relate directly to a person's professional background, personal preference also plays a role. Bintro, a site that launched in May and counts among its execs a former eHarmony engineer, asks job applicants to fill out a questionnaire that asks them to list their hobbies and passions.

"Any extra information that users give us in any category helps to create increasingly accurate and compatible matches," CEO Richard Stanton said in an e-mail to "Categories such as passions and hobbies happen to have the added benefit of helping users 'break the ice' after they have been matched."

Having a common interest in wine, for example, could serve as an icebreaker in an interview between a candidate and a matched employer, he said.

The Jobfox questionnaire asks candidates to write out what's important to them in a company and note what they prefer in terms of company dress code -- suits vs. jeans.

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