Wayfindr is a 21st century career platform designed to transform the way we look for jobs, hire new team members, and plan for future skill needs.
[6 minute read]
Information, Market Failure, and Jellyfish
We have an audacious vision. And the future of work — and the economy, no less — is dependent upon it.
To achieve it, we must begin to treat the jobs market as an ecosystem. It is, after all, an ecosystem. A complex and interconnected system whose ongoing health and strength is determined by the quality and effective transmission of nutrients (or skills) within it.
Our ecosystem — the jobs market — is failing. And the companies (the consumers of nutrients), education providers (the producers of nutrients), and workers (the packets of nutrients themselves) within it may as well be swimming in different oceans.
72% of educators believe young people are well-prepared for work. Less than half of students (45%) and employers (42%) agree. ¹
If you’ve recently watched Sir David Attenborough’s Our Planet, you may have already anticipated where I’m going with this theme of oceans, ecosytems, and nutrients.
In his latest soberingly excellent series, Sir David explains that our oceans are displaying clear warning signs of their dwindling health.
The signals? Jellyfish. Tons and tons of jellyfish.
Where there were once bountiful schools of nutrient-rich fish, today, there’s nothing but nutrient-sparse jellyfish. Drifting about the place. Aimlessly. Pointlessly.
Oceanic ecosystems thrive on fish. But not on jellyfish. Because no one in the sea (or elsewhere) eats jellyfish.
Our ecosystem — the jobs market — is also displaying warning signs.
The signals? Underemployed graduates. Tons and tons of them.
Today, in the US, 46% of graduates are underemployed (in jobs not requiring degrees)². And yet, 45% of companies are unable to fill entry-level jobs due to a lack of skills³.
Like jellyfish, it turns out, some 46% of graduates are drifting about the place. Aimlessly. Pointlessly. (Harsh, I know. But bear with me.)
In effect, nobody wants to eat them.
What a waste.
Mind the Gap(s)
I’d like to take you deeper into the “graduates = jellyfish” analogy.
As I see it, there are two types of underemployed graduates: (i) actual jellyfish and (ii) those who only appear to be jellyfish.
(i) Actual jellyfish are low in nutrients (skills). Underemployed graduates in this category fall into the much debated “Skills Gap”.
(ii) Those who only appear to be jellyfish are not low in nutrients (skills). They have not failed to acquire useful skills, they have only failed to signal to employers that they have acquired useful skills. Underemployed graduates in this category fall into the not hotly debated — because I just made it up — “Signaling Gap”.
Two birds, one stone
We’ve built a platform to bridge — eradicate, really — both the skills gap and the signaling gap, which leave people underemployed and companies undermanned today.
First, the “Signaling Gap” is clearly real. Like Thanos, it’s inevitable. And, like Freddie Mercury, it goes both ways.
A poverty of information encumbers every introduction in the jobs market today — the pairing of text-only job descriptions and text-only resumes provide totally inadequate mediums for either side of the hiring process. They simply cannot effectively convey the complex merits of job opportunities (and the companies behind them) or the suitability of our skillsets (and the people behind them).
Now, in the 21st century, we should all “just want to break free”, from our ecosystem’s — the jobs market’s — mutually unhealthy reliance on text resumes (a 16th century invention, by the way) and their text job description brethren.
Wayfindr’s information-rich multimedia Jobseeker profiles use a combination of structured data (skills) and unstructured data (words, images, and videos) to provide more useful information, earlier in the job matching funnel. Enhancing and abbreviating the hiring process and, in doing so, reducing time-to-hire and cost-per-hire metrics; freeing time and money to be spent elsewhere.
Wayfindr’s Employer and Job profiles have the same effect. They are an infinitely higher fidelity representation of your organization than a dry 500-word job description. They allow you to attract more informed, motivated, and better-suited applicants — ones who better understand what drives your organization, its culture, and its success even before they step foot in an interview.
To learn more about these profiles, and the powerful tools they contain, head over to our Tools and Features resources page.
The other gap, the one whose veracity employers and educators can’t agree on, the “Skills Gap”, well, if it isn’t real today it certainly will be tomorrow.
If today, 46% of recent graduates — the most highly educated generation in the history of the world — are jellyfish (or jellyfish impersonators). Well then, tomorrow, we might all be jellyfish.
Winter is coming
We are entering the 4th industrial revolution, a period in which technological adoption and advancement will dramatically increase the rate of change of skill needs.
And if we cannot successfully match the supply of skills with the demand for skills today, then tomorrow, when the cycle rate of skills becomes comparatively dizzying, we may all face a big problem.
A problem created by our steady march into the 21st century clutching 16th century baggage.
We not only need to make bold changes in the way we communicate opportunities and skills, we also need to change our attitudes to the way we go about acquiring new skills.
To thrive in the coming revolution, we need to allow the lines between employment and education, working and learning, and, therefore, employers and educators to blur. Tomorrow’s careers will be defined by “just in time” rather than “just one time” education.
Upskilling and reskilling — and the enhanced mobility they create — will be critical to the success of individuals, companies, and, inevitably, entire economies.
But Wayfindr is here, and, like Arya, she’s got the skills.
For today’s tightening jobs market, and tomorrow’s increasingly unstable one, we need a jobs platform that does three things:
- Allows employers to signal skills needs to the marketplace (both individuals and education providers), quickly and easily;
- Allows individuals and companies to react to changing skill needs with access to effective education providers, quickly and easily, and;
- Allows both individuals and employers to signal and assess their mutual merits (both objective and subjective) for faster, smoother hiring outcomes.
Wouldn’t it also be good if the platform:
- Provides an always-on career companion for individuals that, rather than appearing only when they are “actively” job searching, stays with you and helps you see and navigate the shifting landscape of career opportunities in an ongoing fashion; assessing your skills against the market in real-time and providing opportunities — be they employment or education opportunities — where you can acquire and develop new skills as and when needed.
Yes, it would be good. And, surprise, surprise, Wayfindr does it all.
Wayfindr — a single, accessible, and information-rich marketplace powered by our patent pending Skills Engine — is coming in hot in 14 days on May 15th, 2019.
Now, back to jellyfish
Almost three-quarters of your lifetime earnings are generated in your first ten years of work.
For that reason, Wayfindr focuses on entry, junior, and mid-level hiring. Strong starts mean strong finishes.
So, while Sir David is trying to protect the shallow seas — the nurseries of our oceans — from devolving into a sea of aimlessly drifting gelatinous blobs.
We at Wayfindr, are trying to do the same thing on land.
Join us in the good fight. Its free.
In 14 days, Wayfindr will be launched through our network of 650k university faculty staff who will invite millions of students, graduates, and alumni to join Wayfindr, create beautiful profiles, and find jobs at your company.
Your Wayfindr company profile is waiting for you now. Claim it, customize it, and post unlimited jobs to it. It’s free. Do it before May 15th, 2019 and you’ll earn a free upgraded account for 6 months.
1) Food chains, oceanic or otherwise, and job markets are not perfectly alike. Incentives among food chain participants are not well aligned, they are zero sum I-eat-you-or-you-eat-me contests.
Incentives among jobs market stakeholders, however, are. They are one. Individuals want good jobs suited to their skills. Employers want suitably skilled talent. Education providers want good outcomes to signal their quality, relevance, and value. Wayfindr simply provides the first scalable medium to help jobs market stakeholders realize and mutually capitalize on this inherent oneness.
2) And, of course, graduates and jellyfish are nothing alike. The average graduate accrues $37k in student loan debt. The average jellyfish accrues none.
Also, 70% of high school students enroll in college. Fewer than 60% actually graduate (within 6 years). And then barely half (54%) acquire a graduate-level job (46% don’t). Jellyfish, well… you get it.
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If you feel passionately about any of the points discussed, let’s discuss them further.
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Written by Lewis Talbot. April 30th, 2019.
All rights reserved. All opinions expressed are the authors and are not necessarily shared by Wayfindr or its partners and affiliates.
Lewis is the founder of Wayfindr.
Lewis started his career in investment management at BlackRock in 2006 and, less than two years later, found himself with front-row seat to the subprime mortgage crisis (from which, sadly, many parallels to today's student debt crisis can be drawn). Great timing? Actually, yes.
After completing BlackRock’s graduate program Lewis joined the firm’s new(ish) BlackRock Solutions division; a crack team of financial markets professionals, data scientists, and engineers formed to help protect and rescue institutions — other investment firms, insurance and pension funds, central banks and governments — from bad investment decisions. And 2008 was a landmark year for bad investment decisions.
Lewis played an active role in recruiting and training new graduates at BlackRock. And subsequently directed his career to tackling inefficiencies in the graduates jobs market. In 2011, he founded one of the first international “bridge programs” to connect traditional education providers with fast-growing companies; an “analog” solution, he says, to the “jellyfish problem”. And in 2019, he founded Wayfindr, he says, a “digital” — and therefore widely accessible and perfectly scalable — solution to the problem.
¹ McKinsey Center for Government, Education to Employment: Designing a system that works, M. Mourshed, D. Farrell and D. Barton, Jan. 2013
² The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Staff Report №749, J. Abel and R. Deitz, Sept. 2018.
³ The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Staff Report №710, F. Guvenen, F. Karahan, S. Ozkan and J. Song, Feb. 2015.