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Friday, August 1, 2014

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Website helps create the perfect match

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Workhoppers’ Linda Singer, left, and Vera Gavizon

MONTREAL — Workhoppers.com is free. It’s also the future for freelance professionals seeking short-term, casual or contract work, and for companies looking for a cost effective way to hire, say its creators.

Linda Singer and Vera Gavizon are convinced that the website they founded is the future in a workforce where flexibility is increasingly the rule.

“You can be a stay-at-home mom, a recent retiree, a student, it doesn’t matter,” said Gavizon, a former management consultant.

“This is for the person juggling work and family, for experts, professionals, and even for people who know they have skill sets that have never been used before.”

Companies, for their part, pay by the hour or the job, get qualified workers in their areas, and hire only as needed.

“Our research told us that 50 per cent of the workforce will be on flexible hours in the future,” said Singer, who has a background in marketing research and is mostly a stay-at-home mom.

Most basically, Workhoppers is a “meeting place where companies can easily and cost effectively find local talented professionals willing to help them when work gets busy or when [workers] don’t have the necessary in-house skills,” Singer writes on the website.

“Our goal [is] to help people earn an income while reaching balance in their lives, and to help companies stay competitive by outsourcing with talented local professionals.”

As it turned out, as Singer and Gavizon discovered, the key to developing Workhoppers was to build into the site a rigorous screening process for prospective workers and companies. It has been up and running for six months but is for a little while longer in a testing mode.

Their inspiration for Workhoppers was the Jewish singles site JDate. Like that site, Workhoppers has a layered filtering system that leaves companies doing the hiring with the names of only those who might truly fit the bill. The site screens all job seekers and companies carefully.

The key question the site poses, Singer said, is not “what job do you want, but, “what would you like to do?”

People looking for temporary jobs fill out a very user-friendly but comprehensive registration form that narrows down what you are looking for, highlights skill sets, and takes into account almost anything relevant.

There is also room to attach a photo and CV if desired, although those are advantageous but not compulsory.

Direct contacts are initiated only after companies decide who they are interested in. “After that they are on their own,” Singer said, in terms of whether the candidate is ultimately hired, the pay arrangements, and the like.

The site is also incorporating a review system such as one would see on Expedia or TripAdvisor, allowing users to rate it, and the site is due to be fully bilingual within a few months.

Singer and Gavizon said except for a site along similar lines being launched in the United Kingdom, their research suggests that Workhoppers is a first, and has vast potential to develop elsewhere. While job seekers use the site for free, the plan is to have businesses eventually subscribe as members.

“We chose the name Workhopper because they are always moving forward,” Gavizon said. “We already find there are so many amazing, talented people out there.”

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