Edgelings

An eBay for Jobs?

AN eBAY FOR JOBS?  by Scott Budman

If you’re looking for old record players, Spider-Man lunchboxes, or Elvis memorabilia, there’s always eBay.  So why these days, when many of us are desperately looking for work, isn’t there an eBay for jobs?
 
It turns out that’s the idea behind Jobaphiles.com.  Find a job, and bid on it.  Depending on your qualifications, and how much (or little) you’re willing to work for, the next job you see could be yours.
 
Originally, Jobaphile’s target audience was college students, looking to beef up their resumes and willing to work for cheap.  But then the crash hit.  Now, the website’s founders say the site is being swamped with people of all ages looking for work — and willing to bid against each other for those scarce jobs. 
 
It makes sense.  The web is where we live.  Jobs are what we want.  For better or worse, the two have come crashing together on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Better, because the Web 2.0 world seems to offer better access to available jobs — worse because, for every job connection I hear about through a social networking website, there are three stories about someone losing a job after their potential boss sees an embarassing photo on the candidate’s web page.
 
When we met with the Thai Nguyen, CEO of Jobaphiles.com, ten thousand people were on the site, trying to get their hands on a little more than 200 jobs.  What makes the Jobaphiles’ experience a little more direct than giant job-search websites is, because of the bidding, you know pretty quickly if you’re getting the gig or not.  Just like on eBay, you can follow the auction, find out if you got the job — and if not, move on.
 
Does it cheapen the process?  Nguyen says it actually makes the whole thing more efficient.  “Even in these times,” he says, “I don’t think you’ll find anyone who is gonna work below what makes sense for them.” 
 
We’ll see.  In the meantime, just beware, that in this wide-open world of recessionary jobs, what makes sense to you and me might be a lot different than what makes sense to a college student, looking to pay the rent.
We followed a web services job opening, and found the eventual bids ranged from 30 dollars an hour, to 200 dollars an hour.  It’s still there, so I can’t tell you yet if the employer went for savings, or experience.
 
Think of it as a new paradigm:  Instead of employers bidding over you, Jobaphiles.com asks if you’re willing to bid over them.  I’ll be watching to see if the bottom falls out of these bids — that is, if employers will really hire the person who makes the most absurdly low bid — and how much traffic Jobaphiles will get when the economy improves, and web services jobs settle back into a smaller hourly range.
[For more Scott Budman stories, visit www.nbcbayarea.com]