Faster, better job matches? Singapore start-ups look to redefine career searches

Faster, better job matches? Singapore start-ups look to redefine career searches

Each armed with an in-house algorithm that does more than just matching job seekers to the right roles, can new recruitment web portals and apps in Singapore help to ease the pain of job hunting?

Singapore startup Glints matches young adults to internships and job opportunities
Founded by three young Singaporeans, tech start-up Glints aims to match young adults to internships and permanent employment opportunities. (Photo: Glints)

SINGAPORE: Due to finish his National Service this year, 23-year-old Goh Yu Hui was worried about finding a job.

He had heard stories about the challenges of securing a position - some of his relatives, fresh school leavers like him, have been struggling to secure interviews, much less a job offer.

Two months ago, the Singaporean began scouring through online jobs portals but none had what he was looking for.

“Nearly all the job positions wanted degree holders or people with at least two to three years of experience,” said the accounting diploma holder. “Many of the ads are also posted by agencies and had very little information about the company or job scope. If you want to know more about the company, you have to research on your own.”

He chanced upon Glints - a career development portal which was partnering his alma mater, Singapore Polytechnic - and gave it a shot by creating a profile.

Within days, he received an SMS notifying him of a suitable position. Two weeks later, he accepted the job as an accounts executive at a local business advisory firm.

In a labour market where out-of-work locals are taking longer to find jobs, some job seekers like Mr Goh are casting their net wider by jumping on board alternative recruitment portals and apps developed by tech start-ups.

One such platform is Glints, a homegrown start-up which focuses on matching young adults aged between 18 and 30 to internship and permanent employment opportunities. Apart from having a job board where members can apply for interested positions, Glints also makes customised recommendations based on a member’s interests, education background and work experiences.

Currently, it is working with more than 7,000 companies, ranging from Singapore-based start-ups such as Paktor to global multinational corporations like Puma, to place its 60,000 members.

However, Glints wants to be more than just a job-matching site, according to its three founders.

“One thing we see within the job market is that the skills requirements are changing very quickly and it is more important now for people to constantly upgrade their skills set. Looking for a job is just the first step on our platform,” said co-founder Oswald Yeo, who added that the platform’s algorithm scans through members’ profiles to identify skills gaps and suggests relevant training.

For instance, it offers to draw up personalised training plans for its members based on current SkillsFuture courses. Each Glints user is also assigned a staff who can render one-on-one help.

“The media may be reporting about higher unemployment rates and slower economic growth but on the individual level, we just want to provide you with the tools and resources to get hired,” co-founder Looi Qin En told Channel NewsAsia. “Stop worrying about the big picture and focus on your own path.”

Founders of Singapore startup Glints
(Left to right) Seah Ying Cong, Looi Qin En and Oswald Yeo gave up their scholarships in top US universities to start Glints in 2013. "We want to help young people discover their own career paths, just like we did." (Photo: Tang See Kit)


Another new entrant, MyWork Global, similarly offers training suggestions for its users.

Started initially by lawyer-turned-entrepreneur Rebecca Chiu as a solution for the manpower crunch at her food and beverage (F&B) venture Soi 55, the mobile app aims to match on-demand workers with businesses looking for someone to fill a role at short notice.

Workers can customise search results based on their preferences, including location and wage expectations. When Channel NewsAsia last used the app, it showed a variety of ad hoc jobs primarily in sectors such as F&B and retail. At the end of each job, workers will receive a rating from their employers, which will then be published on their profile pages.

Workers who have a less-than-ideal score can choose to undergo training to improve their ratings and hence, their employability. For this, MyWork is partnering with the Social Enterprise Network Singapore (Sense) - the subsidiary training arm of Malay self-help group Mendaki - to offer heavily subsidised courses.

Apart from businesses, the new app wants to offer a “win-win” platform for the burgeoning group of gig workers in Singapore, as well as freelancers who are on the lookout for ad hoc jobs to earn extra cash, Ms Chiu said.

Since its soft launch last September, MyWork has amassed 35,000 users, with nearly half of them aged between 18 and 25.

One such user is 21-year-old Jeremy Teo, who has since completed various stints as a service crew and event helper for F&B companies such as 49 Seats. “Allowing me to work around my own schedule, it provides me with flexibility and at the same time, stability of income. It is a great way for me to gain new experience and try out different job roles,” said Mr Teo.

On-demand jobs app MyWork Global
Newly unveiled mobile app MyWork matches on-demand workers with businesses looking to fill a temporary role at short notice. (Photo: MyWork Global)

Meanwhile, Tokyo-headquartered Wantedly, which officially launched in Singapore two months ago, prides itself on connecting people to jobs based on passion. The biggest social recruiting platform in Japan with more than 1.2 million active monthly visitors and 20,000 clients offers some unique features that hope to make the job-hunting process a little easier.

Available both as a website and an app, Wantedly allows users to ask questions or even schedule a visit to the company they are interested in before sending out their job applications. On these visits, participants will get to meet the firm’s representatives and catch a glimpse of the work environment.

Job postings that appear on its platform are also often creatively written, with detailed descriptions of the job role and the company.

Mr Tan Weiting, the country manager for Wantedly Singapore, explained: “The issue with current job platforms is there’s not much transparency. They put up a short post and how is that going to help you understand the job or even company culture?”

He added: “Apart from a weak job market, there is also a mismatch where people are not clear about what’s out there so we want to fill that gap by being transparent. Before you walk through the company’s door, we want you to know what the company stands for and whether it fits you.”

Lawyer-turned-entrepreneur Rebecca Chiu founded MyWork Global in 2016
Lawyer-turned-entrepreneur Rebecca Chiu founded MyWork Global in 2016. (Photo: Tang See Kit)


To be sure, these new platforms and apps still have a long way to go when it comes to upending the local recruitment market that has long been dominated by heavyweight incumbents, both offline and online.

Among the job seekers whom Channel NewsAsia spoke to, a majority of them named established recruitment portals such as jobsDB, JobsCentral and the National Jobs Bank as their first choice when it comes to job hunting.

Ms Jenn Tan, a graduating student from the National University of Singapore’s science faculty, signed up with these job boards three months ago. While she is open to giving less well-known platforms a shot, Ms Tan pointed out that many of them still lag behind in terms of the variety and number of job listings.

“When searching for a job, it’s always good to look at more platforms but what I would consider before even signing up is the number of job listings on a website. It’s about having more choices on one platform.”

While start-ups like Glints acknowledge that there remains some catching up to do, they do not think that size is necessarily a hindrance.

Referring to massive job portals such as the National Jobs Bank, Mr Looi said: “They are the aircraft carrier and we are a speedboat. I don’t think there’s competition.”

“As a private platform, we are focused on offering diverse opportunities and we can do that at a much faster pace. For the past one year, our site has gone through radical changes both on the front-end and back-end technology,” added co-founder Seah Ying Cong.

For Mr Goh, he admits that he is the lucky few among his peers to have found work.

Moving forward, he will also be studying an Advanced Diploma in Accountancy - an 18-month work-study programme offered under the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme (ELP) - which Glints has helped to coordinate.

“Some of my friends have never heard of Glints but for me, it has been useful … It will be tiring to study and work at the same time but I’m getting prepared now by studying during my free time,” he said. "I think it will benefit me in future.” 

Source: CNA/sk