Job-Search Website Jobbook.com Launches

17 Oct, 2011

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Jobbook Vice-President (University Relations) Zach Newburgh shows off Jobbook at the pre-launch office party.

After approximately one year of planning, the new and contentious social media site Jobboook went live to the public on Monday, September 26. The goal of this start-up is to connect students and recent graduates from most of the top Universities in Canada and the United States with prospective employers.

The idea for the company originated from Jean de Brabant, a 73 year-old Montreal-based entrepreneur. The plan was to create a free service that matched candidates to jobs of interest. Thousands of dollars in investment funds have gone into inventing a new system to alert the user of jobs sorted by field, profession and title. A user must send their CV to the participating company, and if hired, Jobbook is paid by the employer a small percentage of the starting salary.

Jobbook faces many challenges in its quest to gain acceptance in the McGill community.  Like any other new company, there is a steep learning curve. Brabant explained, “When you’re a start up it’s hard to be a leader – at the bottom there are a lot of roles to fill.”Some McGill students are upset to hear that Zach Newburgh, former SSMU President, is the Vice-President University Relations at Jobbook. SSMU Council voted in early February 2011 to censure Newburgh, as his involvement with Jobbook was viewed as a conflict of interest. Newburgh was alleged to have met with student executives at other universities and pitched Jobbook at the same time.

“I was not representing the SSMU in an official capacity. And that should have been clear. And was made clear,” Newburgh said in an interview with The Daily on when Jobbook was mentioned in his meetings with other student executives.

During a meeting in February with the Legislative Council, Newburgh declared that he “used the Conflict of Interest Policy to guide my involvement with Jobbook in the first place.”

Although he admitted that he should have been more open with SSMU about his involvement, he maintained that his involvement never impeded his ability to function as SSMU President. In addition, he noted that Jobbook would help McGill students.

A number of groups thought that Newburgh abused his leadership position to gain a financial stake in this opportunity.  When his involvement became a controversy in January, Newburgh told the student body that he was dropping his financial share and commitment to the company. Some who believed Newburgh’s actions were unethical have been sceptical about joining Jobbook.

However, Newburgh shrugged off past controversy at the pre-launch party that took place on Saturday, September 24. Friends, family, and the media joined the founders and employees of Jobbook in the spacious Montreal head office to celebrate the opening. Newburgh and his coworkers were very welcoming, and showed guests how to use the interface while explaining the way it all works.

Some guests were impressed by the open-concept office space they walked into, with a DJ playing. They compared the atmosphere to that of The Social Network, since the Jobbook office had non-traditional features such as a basketball court, darts, and a work-out room.

Jobbook can be compared to sites such as Monster.ca or LinkedIn. However, co-founder Antoine de Brabant, son of Jean de Brabant, explained that “[with] LinkedIn, a lot of people get confused about what the services are. People don’t really see it as a place where I’m going to go find a job that’s for me.” He further explained that LinkedIn is mostly for the benefit of the employer, and that Jobbook is not aiming to take away any of their market.

According to de Brabant, the intention is to have a more user-friendly system for the typical student. “Imagine more of a dating site where you get to see basically live streams of jobs based on your selections, and you get to ‘like’ them or not ‘like’ them.”

It was Antoine de Brabant who thought that having a spacious, unconventional office would be key in building up Jobbook’s success. “These are amazing offices, and can only hold an amazing project,” said de Brabant.

Jobbook’s exponential growth has been impressive. In only three or so days since its launch, Jobbook reached around 4 500 members. They intend on introducing new design updates and features in the near future. They are also trying to get involved in the Montreal start-up community, and have been holding conferences in their offices to that end.

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