Creating opportunity
This Startup Lets You Look for a Job—Without Anyone Knowing
Free Enterprise Staff | March 24, 2015

Update: Poachable recently changed its name to Anthology. 

According to Tom Leung, when it comes to job hunting, there are two distinct kinds of people.

“People who hate their jobs and have made up their minds, they don’t care who knows they’re looking for a new position,” he says. “Then there are people who are fully employed and not necessarily unhappy, but they’re not completely satisfied. So, they’re in this weird space where they’re not actively looking, but they know that there might be something out there, and they wish there were a way for them to find that out without jeopardizing their current employer relationship.”

As the founder and chief executive of the startup Poachable, Leung’s attention is solely directed at the latter group—which accounts for the vast majority of employed Americans. An offshoot of Yabbly, another company Leung founded, Poachable offers an online jobs platform that appeals to these kinds of workers.

“We ask our members what it would take for them to leave their current jobs. It’s usually a combination of location, salary, skills, type of company, seniority—that kind of thing.”

Unlike, say, LinkedIn, which allows businesses to parse through a nearly limitless number of job applications, Poachable takes a more confidential approach. Companies have to register with Poachable to begin with, and they’re not even able to see candidates’ personal information, Leung stresses.

“Companies only get to see the members that we’ve identified as the potential matches for what they’re looking for—what we call a two-way match,” he explains. “That means that the job meets the member’s requirements, and the member meets the company’s requirements. Furthermore, the member has confirmed they are open to learning more about that specific company.”

This process effectively eliminates the chance that a candidate’s identity will be revealed without her consent—to, say, her current employer. Unlike traditional online job boards, Poachable maintains a user’s confidentiality until both parties have expressed mutual interest. This means, Leung says, that a candidate is a good fit for a job, and that a company is a good fit for that particular Poachable member.

By employing multiple layers of security, Poachable ensures that its members avoid the sometimes-uncomfortable conversations that can arise when a person’s current employer discovers that he or she is exploring the job market. It also makes it more appealing to people who aren’t necessarily looking for a new job but aren’t opposed to finding one that’s a better fit. “We ask our members what it would take for them to leave their current jobs. It’s usually a combination of location, salary, skills, type of company, seniority—that kind of thing.” Leung says.

“Sometimes you might be in the just right job, but you don’t know it because you’re afraid to look. We make it easy to get a sanity check and see what is out there without officially looking.”

“We then ask you to tell us what your dream next job would be, and if we find a match where we have a job that meets your criteria—and just as importantly your background meets the company’s criteria—then we’ll let you know. And we’ll give you an opportunity to pre-apply anonymously. If you do that, then the employer can review your anonymous profile, and decide if they want to express reciprocal interest in you. You can then decide whether you want to reveal your identity.”

To determine its own effectiveness, Poachable tracks every step of the application, interview, and hiring process. While the company has seen its membership increase significantly in its first year of business—it now has more than 30,000 members and 500 registered employers—it doesn’t necessarily gauge success by the number of people who successfully find new jobs using the platform.

“At the end of the day, success for us means members change jobs and find a really great fit for them, and the employers are really happy with the candidate,” Leung says. “The other success could be that the member doesn’t change jobs but feels like they are staying in their current job for the right reasons. That’s because they know that’s the best job for them, and that’s their ‘just right’ place. Sometimes you might be in the just right job, but you don’t know it because you’re afraid to look. We make it easy to get a sanity check and see what is out there without officially looking.”

What kinds of insights has Poachable gleaned by tracking its members through the hiring process? For starters, job candidates make a lot of mistakes in the job market without even realizing it, Leung stresses. Many candidates, for instance, struggle with how best to summarize their job responsibilities and current roles. “The reality is, in today’s world, people do wear a lot of hats, especially at medium and small companies,” he says.

“The dilemma there is that recruiters tend to look for pattern recognition. Often, the candidate who’s probably going to get the most attention is what we like to call the ‘plug and play’ candidate. They’re the candidates who look like they’re already doing that job, and when you scan the resume, there’s an arc to it. And the candidates who have been bouncing around a lot, it’s harder for them to land roles.”

Regardless of whether you’re happy with your current job, or you’re actively looking for a new one, Poachable is standing out in a crowded field by directly appealing to candidates who value confidentiality and discretion—a demographic that the company itself is also courting.

“Yes, we do use Poachable,” Leung says, laughing. “We’re using it right now. We’ve got a couple of roles open, and we’ve found a couple of people on our team through Poachable. We don’t use job boards or anything like that.”