Brett Zallek

Brett Zallek, St. Peter graduate and Greater Mankato Growth intern, helped with the launch of Greater Mankato Jobs. (Ashley Murtha/Le Center Leader)

A new regional jobs website makes finding jobs easier by using an online dating approach.

“It’s like Indeed meets eHarmony,” Bridget Norland, director of marketing and communications at Greater Mankato Growth, said.

Greater Mankato Growth and GreenSeam partnered with Work Fountain and launched Greater Mankato Jobs in June, which matches preferences from both job seekers and employers.

“We want to build the talent pool,” said Sam Ziegler, director of GreenSeam, Greater Mankato Growth’s marketing initiative for agriculture and ag-related industries. The region’s unemployment rate is very low and locals have been trying to find ways of keeping the thousands of annual college graduates in the area.

Work Fountain’s design was customized for the region and then made available on the Greater Mankato Jobs and the GreenSeam Talent Exchange websites. The two websites are linked, so seekers can see job openings in agriculture and other industries they may not have considered.

Brett Zallek, St. Peter graduate and intern for Greater Mankato Growth, now goes to St. John’s University and wishes there had been something like this when he was searching for his internship.

“Originally, I was looking in Minneapolis,” Zallek said. “Then my mom asked if I had done any searches in Mankato and I thought, ‘I actually haven’t. Why is that?’”

“Mankato just couldn’t compete” with the number of jobs in Minneapolis, Zallek said. The small businesses in Mankato that would be a perfect match for what some internship or job seekers are looking for aren’t able to afford posting on job-searching sites like Indeed. And if they could afford it, keyword-based searches can make their position listed after hundreds of others. So many small businesses only posted their openings on their own website, according to Ziegler. If a person doesn’t know about the company, they aren’t going to be able to find that job.

The new tool on Greater Mankato Jobs has the potential to match seekers with those small businesses. It works by asking the job or intern seeker questions about qualifications and preferences; for example, it would ask if you want to work with and meet new people or if you would rather work on your own. This develops a profile for the seeker. The website then matches the seeker with job openings. From there, potential employers can see the seeker’s profile and determine if they might be a good fit for the company.

But the seeker isn’t the only one answering questions. When an employer adds a new job listing, they will also have to answer questions about the job and what it entails, which enables the matching process.

This survey process is the one thing that makes this tool different from the other job-searching websites. According to Zallek, other sites, like Monster and Indeed, use key words to find jobs in the area but don’t look at the work environment or other characteristics.

“It’s not blind,” Zallek said.

But receiving a match doesn’t mean that the seeker must talk to that company or employer.

“I look at it kind of like Facebook,” Zallek said. “You can see someone through suggested friends and you decide if you want to add them and then, once you send the request, they can decide if they want to add you as well and then you can go from there.”

Once both parties have expressed interest, the candidate’s contact information is shared with the company.

Ziegler stressed that this site can be used from anywhere.

“We lose the younger generation,” Ziegler said. Many leave to explore the world and see what they can do somewhere else. “But they come back when they’re in their thirties,” Ziegler said.

For businesses, it’s a good deal. Posting a job is cheaper than most job sites: $39 for a job per month, $19 for an internship per month. If they don’t get a match, they get their money back.

Ziegler hopes that this tool will help bring more people back to the Mankato region and make it easier for them to find a job in the area.

While the website is just getting started, Greater Mankato Growth has set up tutorials for businesses and chamber groups that Zallek is teaching. Zallek is also taking calls from businesses that have any questions about the process and how to sign up.

When Zallek returns to college, there will be continued support, Ziegler said.

“Talent recruitment and retention is a full-blown initiative,” he said. “This area will be a focus.”

Reach Reporter Ashley Murtha at 507-931-8572.

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