Seven years after launching an artisan spice business, Thalia Noel found herself in need of some extra income.
But two months into her job search, the 42-year-old New Castle resident still wasn’t able to find work close to home.
“I turned looking for a job into a job,” Noel said. “I signed up with a bunch of job websites and was sending my résumé out every day, but couldn’t find something that fit.”
That changed after she signed up with Wilmington.TweetMyJobs.com, a web-based job search platform that uses Twitter, Facebook, email and text messages to connect job seekers with employers.
Immediately after creating her profile, Noel began receiving tweets about job openings, including a $13-an-hour part-time position at the Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“I started on Monday,” she said, “and I’m so happy because it’s exactly the kind of job I was looking for.”
First launched in 2009, TweetMyJobs now has geographically specific hub sites in 10 locations throughout the country, including small urban centers like Columbia, South Carolina, and Allentown, Pennsylvania, as well as large cities like Atlanta and Houston, Texas.
The platform’s arrival in Wilmington two months ago was spearheaded by Third District City Councilman Darius Brown in response to the city’s high unemployment. According to the Delaware Department of Labor, the city’s unemployment rate for January was 6.9 percent, nearly half of where it was at the height of the recession, but still well above the countywide rate of 5.1 percent and the statewide rate of 5 percent.
“Part of the issue is the skills gap,” Brown said this week. “It’s difficult to match jobs that are available in Wilmington’s economic sector with the skills held by city residents.”
In addition to encouraging enrollment in various job-training organizations, Brown said he felt the city needed a tool that could match residents with local job opportunities, “ideally through an online recruiting platform, because that’s how people today – especially young people – connect with the world.”
The service is free for both job seekers and employers, neither of which have to be located in the city to use the site.
Those looking for work can quickly create a profile, enter the type of position they’re looking for, how they want to be notified of job openings and how far away from the city they’re willing to travel.
An app version of the site also displays a map and notifies job seekers when they’re near a business with a job opening.
While it’s still too early to fully gauge the Wilmington site’s success, the early indicators are promising, said Jae Sung, TweetMyJobs vice president of client success.
The local site began with 3,500 job postings and has nearly doubled that number in the past six weeks, with more than 100 new companies logging on in the past 30 days, he said.
The jobs being listed include entry-level positions with retail stores like Starbucks and CVS to more highly skilled positions with AstraZeneca, DuPont and Nemours.
More than 4,000 job seekers also have created profiles and collectively recorded 25,000 job views since January.
The site has no metric for determining how many people have actually found work through TweetMyJobs, but Brown said several companies have reported hiring candidates recommended by the service.
Michele Strayer, the human resources director for the industrial plastics manufacturer Franklin Fibre-Lamitex, said the site recently forwarded her two job candidates for a pair of full-time machine operator positions.
“Any tool an employer can use for recruiting is welcome, especially something like this that’s a little outside the box,” she said. “What I really like is that it can reach an audience that might not have access to a home computer, but they do have a cellphone. Now those people can get notifications about job listings even while riding the bus.”
Brown said he’s now working to ensure funding is available to keep the local TweetMyJobs site going.
Wilmington’s initial one-year contract with TweetMyJobs was funded with $35,000 from city coffers, as well as $5,000 contributions from New Castle County, the law firm Richards, Layton & Finger and Capital One.
“I’ve got to find that $50,000 every year, and I hope to raise as much as possible without city money, so hopefully there’s someone out there willing to write a check,” Brown said. “Small businesses and corporations spend thousands of dollars every year in marketing, so a contribution is really minimal compared to the expenses they face when doing marketing for a job opening.”