Let’s face it, finding a good job is anything but easy. It not only involves hours of screening through titles and functions that, in the end, tell us nothing about the nature of the actual work. Moreover, the bigger job search engines out there can be anything but friendly and personal. Enter Jobbook.

First, as concisely as you can, what is the main problem Jobbook aims to solve?

Jobbook aims to improve the imprecise process involved in online recruitment and job searching.
 When employers reach out to candidates through online tools like job boards or job aggregators, they can end up searching through hundreds of CVs, with no guarantee of even hiring anyone. Job boards often end up displaying many catchall opportunities, and job seekers are subsequently presented with limited opportunities. We feel that the current platforms do not allow job seekers
 to be able to control their information and share it only they are presented with opportunities that they want to see. Jobbook aims to solve this problem by creating a matching platform based on our JobdictionaryTM. Our members choose the jobs they

want by exploring the JobdictionaryTM, and get matched with job opportunities based on their selections.

Tell me about the core team members of Jobbook.

Jean de Brabant, a 73 year old entrepreneur, lawyer and minor tri-athlete, is our founder and CEO. His son, Antoine de Brabant, co-founder of Wordans, a successful Canadian start-up, is an entrepreneur and student, and is a founding partner of Jobbook. Noah Chaimowicz, who previously worked with Virgin Gaming, is a founding partner of the company, and heads the development team. Antoine and Noah help set the direction and strategy to implement Jean’s invention, and manage the Jobbook team. Zach Newburgh, former president of the MGill student’s Union, heads our team of University partners, along with Mark Dirzulaitis, former president of the Johns Hopkins Student Government Association. We have recently added Hugo Frappier to our development team, who is an experienced developer to say the least. Tina and Antoine lead our in house design team, which has been crucial to creating what we think is a very pleasing user experience.

You have a very convenient office space in downtown Montreal. Do you think the city offers a good environment for job-related startups compared to bigger cities like Toronto?

I think one of the most important assets a company has are their employees (and partners), even more so when it comes to start-ups. Montreal has a lot of young, talented and motivated entrepreneurs. We’ve been able to build a strong team here, and there is always more talent around the corner. The fact that the city has so much to offer, and at such reasonable rates, helps people go for opportunities that could seem riskier in different circumstances. As a Montrealer, it’s almost a given, but it seems to me that affordable rent, transport, food and free healthcare really go along way towards helping startups grow. I don’t know if cities like Toronto or New York can claim the same.

As for our office, we were lucky to land on such a great space. Not every start-up enjoys the same perks, but we’re happy with our basketball net!

Let’s be blunt, job hunting is tedious and one of the least pleasant experiences we all have to go through whether you’re a student fresh off school benches or an experienced worker. Why do you think that is, and why do you think this problem hasn’t been solved yet?

My personal experience with job searching has been disappointing. I remember one the first things I realized when looking for a job online was that I couldn’t even find the title, let alone job opportunity, that fit my interests. After spending 15+ years of my life studying, I looked online for my career choices, and felt boxed-in. I sent out a few CVs, but ended up getting calls from random companies I hadn’t reached out to, and would even get unwanted calls months later. As for Linked-

in, I didn’t quite know how it could work for me, and I didn’t really want to spend the time to find out (granted this was a few years ago). In the end I had to turn to paying headhunters. Coming into the job market is scary enough, but as a savvy Internet user, not being able to find opportunities that matched my interests was a big turn-off. This might have been a big reason why I became an entrepreneur in the first place.

After working on Jobbook and researching the market, I quickly learned that a lot of

people were in the same situation as I found myself in. I also learned about the online recruitment industry and the business models used by some of our competitors. I think one of the big reasons the problem hasn’t been solved yet is that a lot of players in the industry base their revenue on advertisement, paid job listings or up-selling to premium usage. As such, their focus is not necessarily in the right place getting people hired.

JobDictionary is one of the more innovative tools you have at your disposal and one that I think spins a different angle on job search. Can you explain what it is and how it will help job seekers?

The Jobdictionary™ is a dictionary organized alphabetically, field by field; which aims to list all job titles. It is designed to help people explore job titles in their field(s), and choose the jobs they are interested in pursuing, whether they know exactly which job they want or are not totally sure. The Jobdictionary™ allows our system to learn and therefore offer you the jobs you want.

Our members remain anonymous until they actively express interest in a position, so members can stay informed on the opportunities in complete privacy.

When we met, you also mentioned a slew of other tools you guys have in the pipeline. Widgets, jobwiki, jobbook news. Can you give our readers some insight into those and how they’ll help make job hunting an easier task?

The Jobdictionary™ will soon be linked to Jobbook Wiki, a moderated wiki platform with user submitted content, which will enable users to share, contribute, and learn useful information and resources on job titles in their professional field(s) of interest.

We just recently released Jobbook News, which provides targeted news by field, helping readers stay in the loop. These features will soon be integrated into the job seeker’s Dashboard.

Jobbook soon offer an affiliation tool that will allow niche websites and key

Affiliates to place Jobbook widgets on their site, targeted to their field. A Jobdictionary™ widget and job syndication API are also in the works.

While Jobbook helps job seekers in their search, it also caters to the demands of employers. After all, employers are always in the market for talent. The hard part is finding it amongst a swarm of enthusiasts. How does your startup help make the right connection?

We have developed a unique matching system that helps employers save a

considerable amount of time, effort and money to find the right talent. Much like a dating site, Jobbook allows Employers and Job Seekers to connect and interact based on their profile and preferences. When an Employer activates a job post in our system, they are only presented with Job Seekers who have chosen that particular job as a potential career interest. With optional filters and candidate previews, Employers can request CVs from candidate matches and candidates can express interest in an opportunity by “liking” it. Only when a hire is made does Jobbook charge 5% of the hire’s 1st year salary. This helps Employers focus on hiring the right candidates.

Your bigger competitors such as Monster and Workopolis function more like job aggregators. You seem to go the extra step and make a more personal connection. Is it fair of me to say that Jobbook is like a matchmaker?

Jobbook is a matchmaker; our goal is to match job seekers with the right job

opportunities, and employers with the right talent.

When a match is made, job seekers can anonymously review the employer profile

and job opportunity, and employers can preview the candidate’s match details. If both parties are interested and express interest in each other, the candidate’s name and CV are shared, and the interview process begins.

In the end, we believe that when a right match is made, we all win. Companies are more productive, employees are happier, and we provide a satisfactory service.

Sales and marketing. Two words big on meaning that are the life and blood of any venture. Can you talk about your business model and the marketing strategies we can expect from you to reach your target audience?

Our services are free for job seekers, with no unfair up-selling strategies, private data mining or intrusive advertisements, so we’ve enjoyed a great membership drive and conversion rates. With our team of University student partners across 55 North American campuses, we will be inviting students and recent graduates to join all year long, while our online efforts are encouraging everyone to join.

Our business model allows for growth on both sides, as Employers are given free access to the Jobbook system, and only pay on performance. After consulting with

HR leaders in the many industries, we have found our pricing to be within acceptable market levels.

Additionally, since our revenue model is primarily based on making hires through the Jobbook system, this allows us to focus our resources and attention in the right place.

Jobbook Wiki and Jobbook News will be an important part of our marketing strategy, as it will allow for users to share and disseminate content, which will drive membership. It will also present a great opportunity for us to syndicate our job posts and employer profiles, targeting specific field and job title pages. From this will be able to offer our jobs API as an affiliation tool.

2012 is right around the corner and for many, that means job hunting time. Seems like Jobbook’s arrival on the market is timely. What can we expect from you in the near future in terms of innovations?

Jobbook was created to match our members with the jobs they want. Our innovations will always be geared toward providing our members with the best matches. In 2012, we hope to integrate our Wiki resources, News and job-matching services in one live-feed, allowing users to better interact with their career path. We will also be releasing a new version of the Jobdictionary™ which will allow for power useage, better interaction, and links to the Jobbook Wiki. We’ll also be continuously pushing to improve our matching system, so we can better serve our members.

Full of liberating and challenging opinions, Derek Sivers joins us for a discussion on passion, fearlessness, integrity, and the importance of their roles in entrepreneurship and life. If you think you have read all about those topics before, I urge you to read them again here, for the first time. Enjoy!


Allentrepreneur : It`s a pleasure to have you with us Derek! One of the things few people know about CD Baby was perhaps your reluctance to start it. You mentioned a few times in prior interviews that the company you are now most famous for started as an accident.  You did it as a favor to friends. However if CD Baby had never come to pass, you would still be doing what you do best: music. And this is where I want to start this discussion. Can you tell us about the importance of nurturing a passion or the potential perils of not having one?

Derek: It’s dangerous to think in terms of “passion” and “purpose” because they sound like such huge overwhelming things.  If you think love needs to look like “Romeo and Juliet”, you’ll overlook a great relationship that grows slowly.

If you think you haven’t found your passion yet, you’re probably expecting it to be overwhelming.

Instead, just notice what excites you and what scares you on a small moment-to-moment level.

If you find yourself diving into book about Photoshop and playing around with the program for hours, go for it!  Dive in deeper.  Maybe that’s your new calling.

If you think for one moment about something like putting on a huge conference or being a Hollywood screenwriter and you find the idea terrifies you, there’s a good chance that would be a worthy endeavor for you.

You grow by doing what excites you and what scares you.

For me, CD Baby was just a curiosity: that little hobby that kept me up until 2am every night, programming and experimenting.  It just grew from there.

Allentrepreneur : I have followed your blog for some time and as posts went by, I realized that one of the reasons the advice you give seems to resonate so well is because it is rooted firmly in realism and doesn’t take itself too seriously. My question then is how much importance do you give dreaming, and when or how do you reconcile doing and imagining?

Derek: I love that “dreaming” has two different meanings. Dreaming at night is surreal and absurd.  You’re talking to your friend Tracy but now she’s a cat, and knew that Tuesdays the sky opens up so you can fly when holding oranges.

Dreaming as imagining can be that creative.  It’s great to try ridiculous options.  What if I move to Brazil to start a surf shop?  What if I franchise my new company worldwide before it even starts?  What if instead of paying money, people paid compliments?

Then, only when you hit upon something that makes you say, “Hell yeah! That’d be awesome!”, should you commit your real-world time and money to the actual doing.

Allentrepreneur: I would like to point out the circumstance during which CD Baby was brought to life: you saw a gap in the existing way of doing things, and decided to fill it yourself. There’s a crucial business lesson here. Wait until there’s a demand. What other piece of business advice has helped you most along the way?

Derek: Know that when you create a business, you’re creating a little universe with its own rules.  You can make it your own utopia.

Just because other companies put Terms of Service agreements and Privacy Policies on their website doesn’t mean you have to.  Just because other companies have titles, meetings, or mission statements doesn’t mean you have to.  You could declare your official return policy to be “tell us a funny story and we’ll give you a full refund.”

Start sentences with, “In a perfect world…” – and aim to make that happen.

Allentrepreneur : There is something else about the way you handled business that hasn’t been mentioned often but I saw as undeniable to your success: fearlessness. I’m not talking about that Utopian quality present only in Spartan warriors, but rather the fact that whether or not CD Baby took off was not essential to you because you were already a full-time musician. You were already earning a living doing what you love. Am I wrong in assuming this played a crucial role in your daily management of the company? Is there yet another lesson in there for the rest of us?

Derek: You’re right. It shaped the core DNA of the company. CD Baby was my Utopian experiment. I wasn’t depending on it for income, so it was really just designed as a “musician’s dream come true” service, with profitability as a side-effect.

Everyone who worked there (at least for the first six years) really understood that this was the mindset and mission, so all decisions should be made with this in mind.

A customer asked for some Big Red chewing gum in with their CDs?  Hop down to the store and pick some up.  They’ll be thrilled.  (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCIXkbfgR6g for a great example of this.)

The culture of a company is created by consistent actions, not a mission statement.  By detaching yourself from the profitable outcome a bit, you can make much better day-to-day decisions based only on what would be a dream-come-true for your customers.  Then you just have to trust that it will pay off, too.

Allentrepreneur : One of the most famous advice you give is: Whatever scares you most, go do it. I would be interested in hearing a particular moment of your life when things were particularly scary for you and the essential steps you took to convince yourself that what you were doing was something worth doing.

Derek: It’s more about lots of small moments, and there aren’t convincing steps – just immediate action.

A musician scared to call a big venue to ask how to get booked there.  Seeing one of your heroes in public and being scared to say hello.

These are the little moments that usually make all the difference.  By doing that stuff that most are scared to do, you set yourself up for rare rewards.

Again, like the “passion/purpose” topic, don’t think that destinies are only created by massively important do-or-die moments like in the movies.  It’s your integrity that shapes the thousand small things.

Allentrepreneur : You gave a speech on perfection at Indie Buzz Bootcamp in 2008 where you pointed out that some of the least successful people are the ones treating everything with a do-or-die attitude (where I sadly recognized part of myself), while the most successful are those who are just trying something. I found that extremely liberating. Would you care to elaborate a bit more on this issue?

Derek: Life is unpredictable.  You never know how things will turn out.  You could spend a year working on the most brilliant idea ever, only to find the public hates it.  Or you could do something on a Sunday afternoon that may change the world.

So I think about quantity: trying lots and lots of little things.  Not knowing which will get a great response, you need to force yourself to not get too stuck on any one idea, and go for quantity instead.

One way to do this is to start sentences with, “Let’s see what happens if…”

It’ll be more fun.  It’ll detach you from the outcome.  And it’ll get you to be more creative than if you think of everything as heavy and important.

Those are great qualities that’ll set you apart in a world where everyone is doing the opposite.

Allentrepreneur : In your interview with Alex Shalman you talk about pushing against the tide, about rebelling. Isolating yourself when everyone was going out while living in NYC; harnessing ambition while slackers surrounded you in Oregon, etc. What would you say is the most valuable thing this mindset gave you? Has this attitude always been with you or was it something learned along the way?

Derek: I’ve always been that way, but I guess the common theme was me working while others weren’t.  By seeing myself as unusual, I didn’t mind everyone teasing me for not hanging out, partying, relaxing, or vacationing.  I just stayed focused on practicing and creating, which of course pays off very well.

Allentrepreneur : There’s a quote I came up with that I’ve been putting to the test everyday: Life is interesting, as long as you’re interested. What do you think? Remember you heard it here first!

Derek: I love it.  You could swap in many different words in place of “life”.

Accounting is interesting, as long as you’re interested.

Meditation is interesting, as long as you’re interested.

Anyone is interesting, as long as you’re interested.

Allentrepreneur : And finally, I won’t ask you about the future of music, but I will ask you this: Is there any hope of ever seeing you in Montreal during the Montreal Jazz Festival?

Derek: Nope!  I don’t like live music.  🙂


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