Photo by Pine Red
I was 19, newly married, struggling to get myself through college, and had bills I couldn't pay. I tried to hunt down a retail job near my university in Manchester, a town I didn't know anyone in. The UK was in the middle of a recession, and the city had been hit hard, so they weren't easy to find. I walked from shop to shop, and tried to find a manager to ask in each one. In most cases I was told there wasn't any work, or that they'd take my application and keep it in case something came available. It was depressing and pretty humiliating. After weeks I finally got hired as a shelf-stacker at Kwik-Save in Fallowfield.
The job was objectively terrible, with awful pay and a manager, Mr Albinson, who memorably told me "Our customers are scum. You have to treat them like scum". I only lasted a year. Yet it made a massive positive difference to my life. It was a lifeline financially and the pressure made it the closest team I've ever worked in.
I was thinking about that as I talked to Lou Paglia at Defrag. He's the product head of SnagAJob.com, a job site for hourly employees. You'll never see them in TechCrunch, they aren't listed in LinkedIn's directory and I bet you've never even heard of them. Yet they're doing more good for the people left out in the cold than any other company I can think of, and making a profit too. It's as revolutionary as Ebay, making a whole area radically more efficient.
For job seekers, SnagAJob give you the chance to enter your details once, and then find dozens of nearby hourly jobs. It makes the process dramatically faster, simpler and more efficient, all massive helps if you're struggling to make ends meet. You even get more choice, because you see at a glance a number of employers who are actively hiring, letting you can pick your favorite. This is worlds better than the old process I went through, it leaves people with dignity and more control over their lives.
The site is popular with employers because it's got some unique features to make it efficient for them too. Unlike traditional services like Monster aimed at individual salaried jobs, it's designed for recurrent, hourly positions with multiple locations. The interface is designed for harassed local managers who aren't recruitment professionals.
Lou told me about the massive number of thank-you emails they receive from people they've placed, dozens a week. I believe him, I would have been so happy to have that help getting a job back then. They're really doing something that matters, and I think the tech world should celebrate that achievement.