Thursday, November 8, 2012
Inside the sleek Hoboken N.J., offices of UltimateJobBoard.com, it soon becomes evident that the firm’s founder, Christopher Poreda ’88, can spot a trend.
Stark, modern furnishings with dashes of chic colors and cool blacks stylishly coexist with the clean stainless steel surfaces. Movable walls, positioned on tracks, surround airy, common workspaces, where a number of busy staffers sit, tapping the future of the rapidly growing Internet job board into their tablets. Absent are motivational posters and fuzzy, beige cubicle walls. Poreda knows that workspaces, like the Mile Square City, have changed.
“The complexion of this city has changed dramatically since I first moved here,” said Poreda, a Mercerville, N.J., native who first took up residence directly across the Hudson River from Manhattan in 1993. “Then, it was all guys who had just graduated college, working on Wall Street, who wanted access to the city without paying New York rents. Once they got married, they moved out to the suburbs and made way for the next group.”
By contrast, Poreda now enjoys a city that has become a haven for young families like his, with larger dwellings and open park space, without surrendering any of its hip, urban credibility. And, as it has evolved, Hoboken has also become an ideal headquarters to his expanding business. Since its launch in early 2010, UltimateJobBoard.com has revolutionized the long-extant Internet job board model, and experienced double-digit monthly growth.
“We’ve developed the first job board that has effectively integrated social media and useful online tools in a way that makes sense,” Poreda said. “When you view a job on our site, you’ll also see profiles of people within that company, and how you’re connected to them, as well as a suite of tools to help you make an informed decision whether to apply.”
While the rise of social media has been likened to a networking revolution, even professionally oriented sites like LinkedIn accounted for just 3.5 percent of new hires among all external sources in 2011, according to CareerXroads, a staffing and talent consultancy firm. Instead, while referrals continue to top the list, job boards were cited as the source of 20.1 percent of hires last year – the second-most effective source in CareerXroads’ study.
Even in a job market that continues to limp toward recovery, Poreda says that the advances pioneered by UltimateJobBoard.com, or UJB, have allowed his company to outpace longtime industry leader Monster last year as an external source of hires, according to SilkRoad Technology, a human resources software and talent-management provider.
“We’re giving employers and prospective employees the tools to find each other on their own,” said Poreda, who studied Accounting during his days at Rider.
After working in auditing for PricewaterhouseCoopers and Viacom, the enterprising Poreda launched his own executive search firm for accounting and financial professionals. He says that his consultative approach to carefully matching job seekers to the right company inspired some of the ideas behind UJB.
“You have to help companies find the very best talent, but to really be effective, you have to match the employee to the culture of the company. The fit is as important as the skill set.”
Taking aim at the more established job boards like Monster and Career Builder, whose models still remain virtually unchanged since their launches in the 1990s, Poreda hired a technical team in 2007 to develop what would become UltimateJobBoard.com.
“The cost to run a business like this used to be enormous, having to house and maintain massive servers,” explained Poreda, who says that the advent of cloud computing – in which networking and storage capacity are available as service – has drastically reduced the cost of running a job board. The old guard has been slow to adapt, however – a pitfall Poreda sought to avoid by subscribing to the theory of “market destruction,” in which he took a business that was expensive to run and, as he says, “destroyed the model, itself.
“We’ve succeeded by taken a proven, highly effective existing job-board model, adding superior search capabilities and meaningful social-network integration, while redefining the business and pricing model,” he explained, adding that UJB also thrives on its “freemium” business model.
“We offer something for free that once cost a lot of money, and then go a la carte along the way, where people and companies can take what they want,” Poreda said. Through a cooperative partnership with Indeed.com, UJB’s High Caliber Clients – companies that use the paid service – are able to pool their investments through UJB in order to appear nearer the top of searches of Indeed.com’s job postings.
“This yields the greatest possible search relevance for job seekers looking at postings,” explained Poreda, who says that the partnership produced nearly 25 million unique views of jobs posted by High Caliber Clients in the past year. At the same time, the lofty search results allow UJB to charge more for advertising – revenue Poreda says is reinvested into the site.
“We’re always making it better,” he explained. “Our money is forward-facing.”
Poreda enjoys providing a conduit between people and opportunities, and as a small-business owner himself, he is particularly conscious of the role they play in the economy.
“Small and mid-sized companies employ more people in this country than the large, Fortune 500-types of businesses,” said Poreda, who employs a full-time staff of five in UJB’s Hoboken location, as well as sales representatives across the country. “As the economy dips, small businesses feel it first, but we’re also nimble enough to make adjustments.”