Few things can be more frustrating than job-hunting - sending out endless generic CVs and repetitive cover letters to eventually find a job we may not even enjoy. Luckily, Justin McMurray, founder of Somewhere, has decided to do something about this.
Founded in late 2011, Somewhere aims to provide an alternative way for companies and talent to find each other, based on factors that are not commonly considered in the standard job search, while aiming to increase satisfaction and “work joy” on both sides.
Companies have been using the same process of recruitment for years. What made you feel the need to develop an alternative to this standard process?
The standard recruitment process – CVs, interviews, and so on – is several decades old, and no longer that effective or relevant, particularly when you see how many people today are dissatisfied with their current jobs. The main reason for this is the lack of cultural fit between companies and their employees. In today’s economy, an increasing number of jobs rely on creativity and other human characteristics, rather than specific skills alone. A CV can list a set of skills, yet it cannot really show whether or not the employee would have a good cultural fit with the company.
You mention a specific need to consider ‘cultural fit’ when seeking out talent. What exactly does this term mean?
That’s a good question. We don’t think it can necessarily be defined, but we see it as a collection of intangible factors related to how an employee interacts with his or her workplace – for example, the company philosophy, the team, the work style, or the attitude, to name a few. Cultural fit refers to these kinds of factors which can’t really be quantified, yet are still important to both companies and employees.
Do you believe the cultural fit of an employee is equally important as his or her skills directly related to the job?
I think it depends a lot on the company and the industry. For professions that rely on a very specific skill set, such as medicine, cultural fit is obviously not that important. However, we are seeing an increasing number of creative companies where the skills required are diverse, and constantly changing. In these companies, employees can no longer be evaluated purely on their skills, but rather on their attitude, and on the chemistry they have with the company. Cultural fit, in that case, would be very important.
Exclusive screenshot of Somewhere. The product is due to launch next month.
How does Somewhere help place cultural fit at the forefront of the recruitment process?
We’re just about to launch our first product which will mainly be targeted towards the creative industry; so towards creative startups, studios, or design agencies, and to create a rich showcase of what both these companies and prospective talent have to offer. We find that companies rarely provide information that is interesting or even relevant to talent, focusing instead on the interests of customers or investors. For example, employees often want to know about things like the working environment, the company philosophy, or even things like what kind of music they play during office hours or if there are any good cafés or bars nearby – things that will affect their satisfaction with the job in the long term.
Likewise, many companies wish to see something completely different from what they normally encounter when searching for talent. Instead of generic CVs that list a person’s skills and educational qualifications, what they really wish to see is their character – what makes them tick, or how resilient they would be when faced with a challenge – things that CVs cannot really show. Different companies look for different personality traits – smaller creative firms, for instance, may look for someone highly autonomous, while larger firms may look for someone who is sensitive to others and works well in a team.
As a new startup, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced in developing and promoting your idea, particularly as an alternative to such a well-established process? What kind of advice would you give to others who are just starting their own companies?
My main advice would be simply to start. Starting something does not rely on having a fantastic idea, but rather on the desire to solve a problem. Even if you do not immediately know how to solve it, you can simply learn more as you develop as a startup. There are, of course, many challenges that come with that, such as planning and coordinating each task, or time management. The biggest challenge, however, is working effectively with limited resources. We managed to bootstrap our discovery of the problem, the solution and our customer base, and we’ve developed our first product which will soon launch in five cities – London, Berlin, San Francisco, New York and Sydney. However, after that, we will need some outside support, either in the form of angel funding or seed investments, so that we can truly reach out to these five cities.
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Working for Lufthansa back in 2002, Joachim (CEO & founder @ Jolocom) had the idea to develop a better system for companies to swap data internally and for people to share their data with companies. Back in 2002, the resistance to open networks and communication was strong. However, just a few years later, social media and blockchain changed the rules of the game, which led to the founding of Jolocom in 2014. (Read the whole story here)
Ellie joined the Jolocom team in the fall last year. She’s part of the content team and is responsible for communications and online platforms maintenance.
Volker is currently studying IT-Systems Engineering at HPI, working on his master thesis with Jolocom. He joined the software development team in March this year and has previously worked from betahaus for another startup company.
With two locations in the heart of the city, betahaus l Sofia is a home of some of the most successful Bulgarian startups and is one of the leading innovation hubs in Sofia. Their main space is located just two minutes on foot from Sofia University and the second one stands right at the central Slaveykov Sqaure and has a beautiful view over the city.
As all of our locations, its pet and bicycle friendly and offers the same comfy and relaxed atmosphere you've come to expect from betahaus. Identical to our space, betahaus | Sofia uses glass doors for its team rooms, to build transparency and inclusion.
betahaus | Sofia is spread across 1800 q.m. divided into 2 separate spaces. Shipka 6 is 1300qm and takes over the entire 3rd floor of the UBA – Union of the Bulgarian Artists. Slaveykov Square is placed on the roof top of another historical building in Sofia. There they have two balconies with 360 degrees view, a cafe/bar and a shared kitchen.
Membership plans start from 350,– BGN for Workspace and go up to 435,– BGN for Private Offices. Currently, the space has around 190 members and will soon implement also Club Memberships plan. Every member of the Club will have access to events, conference room and betahaus community.
Ellie: Currently we have around 5 active pilots and we effectively work B2B2C. So we build our application for businesses which have their own user bases.
Volker: One of our ongoing projects is a pilot with Telekom. With their team, and partners from Riddle & Code and Simple Mobility, we have created the Magenta Scooter — an innovation in e-mobility that allows users to ride share while using their decentralized digital IDs. That means users can rent the scooter with our app and our identity. The main advantage there is that you can store your drivers licence in your Jolocom SmartWallet and then share this license with the app of Telekom. This eliminates the long onboarding process of verifying your license.
Ellie: Another example is our e-government collaboration with The City of Antwerp called Blockchain on the Move. Using the SmartWallet, municipal employees can issue and validate their own credentials and create eIDs for citizens – it’s a digital ID with which you can register at the university or go to a swimming pool, as two examples.
Ellie: Two years ago we adopted a new legal structure for Jolocom GmbH according to the purpose model of ownership, manifesting our commitment and dedication to building a self-sovereign organization. That means we can’t take VC funding or sell public shares of the company.
Volker: Jolocom is a community driven organisation – both in a tech sense but also much further beyond. We’re hugely involved in the DWeb community where we organize and attend events for the decentralized community. Every year we also help organize and attend the DWeb Camp in San Francisco, which brings together all kinds of creatives so this technology of tomorrow is built in a collaborative way.
Ellie: I know that before joining betahaus Jolocom was in the Ethereum office – a collaborative blockchain space for companies also building on the same platform and the idea was always to stay within a coworking space. When they closed and we had to move, the next closest choice in terms of company culture was betahaus.
Ellie: The people in the building and the spaces are just really cool. I personally don’t go to community events as much as i would like to but I still end up meeting a lot of people here. Mostly in the kitchen. One of my good friends is actually someone I met in betahaus.
Volker: I once saw a friend of mine presenting at betabreakfast and I didn’t know that he would be here. It was so funny seeing him on the stage.
Volker: There is this really nice place, called Green Rabbit with salads and baked potatoes where I like to go to. Sometimes I just keep it simple and go to Lidl.
Ellie: I eat a lot in west.berlin cafe which is here around the corner and I love the Matcha Lattes from Starbucks.