Last year I began noticing ads in my Facebook feed for a jobs play called Merlin. I had never heard of it before seeing the ads, so didn’t pay much attention to it. There are a flurry of startups in the mobile job app space and this was just another one in a long line.
Fast forward to today when a news release came across my desk. Merlin, a jobs platform exclusively for hourly workers is launching in the New York City market. The company, which launched in Beta in May 2017, appears to have emanated from Bogota, Columbia with additional offices in NYC and Salt lake City. To date, they have raised $24 million dollars, no small feat for what I would deem an unknown company.
That money is no doubt powering those Facebook ads I have seen. Merlin seems to be buying users in an attempt to build an audience which is an often used tactic by startups in the online recruiting space. That strategy reminds me of past companies like Bright.com and Climber who thought they could spend their way to the top pf the job board ladder.
According to the company, ‘candidates on Merlin forgo traditional resumes or cover letters for a user profile that highlights their experience, personality and skills. From there, candidates are matched to opportunities aligned with their qualifications and closest to their home. Job listings are available in a wide range of categories including restaurants, hospitality, general labor, and retail, from small businesses to household names such as Starbucks, Lyft, Levi’s, Shake Shack, FedEx, Hilton and Target.’
“At Merlin, we recognize the impact of hourly workers in every community and are committed to providing better access to jobs that give each individual a greater sense of personal growth and financial security,” said Güimar Vaca Sittic, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Merlin. “We believe that the time, energy and resources candidates put into their searches should be applied to the actual work, not to filling out a complicated application that may not even reach the intended recipient.”
The company employs a “Trust and Safety Team” that reviews each employer to ensure candidates are applying to real companies with viable opportunities. I’m not sure that’s an actual problem in today’s job market. How many fake retail jobs have you come across?
I do like the fact they are providing an alternative to the resume. Hourly jobs like this are the perfect kind to use a more basic profile to apply rather than having to submit a document. Other firms like Wonolo have already proved that theory. A simpler apply process means better conversion rates while browsing jobs.
Employers begin by creating a company profile. Posting a job takes less than two minutes and businesses can expect to receive applications from qualified candidates immediately, without any additional advertising. Companies can also utilize filters to search through candidates by location preference and previous experience. The app features a “safe chat” option, which allows both parties to discuss the job in real time.
These mobile job app startups remind me of the early 2000’s when niche job boards were all the rage. Many of them get some traction in a handful of local markets but going national is a bigger challenge. Thus far I have been impressed by players like WorkHere and Wonolo so time will tell if Merlin has the magic to make that happen.
Merlin’s funding comes from VC partners including General Catalyst, Firstmark, FJ Labs and Uncork, among others. The company plans to expand its offering to other major U.S. cities in the coming months. The app is available for job seekers and recruiters on Android and iOS devices, and accessible online at merlinjobs.com. You can see the release here.