For University of Alberta Finance student, Andrew Jimaga, trying to land his first career job is an exciting and challenging experience, and especially so during COVID times. Last summer, through Communities United, Andrew was introduced to a program that aims to help make the process easier, and ultimately more fulfilling. Through a partnership between Communities United and Edmonton start-up company, MatchWork, he participated in a new career matching survey. It aims to help job seekers such as Andrew, recognize their own strengths, abilities and desires to help them eventually land a perfectly suited job with a perfectly suited employer.
“I liked taking the MatchWork survey online. The questions it had, I hadn’t thought about them for myself. I thought it was interesting because it matches people to opportunities out there,” says Andrew. He adds, “It was kind of like having an online resume where you organize your skills, experiences, and what you’re looking for in a job. That’s why I found it helpful, because everything was organized.”
“MatchWork is an innovative tool to support job seekers in a bit of a different way,” explains Matthew Taylor, Program Manager at Communities United. “ It’s more focused on what your interests are, what motivates you to work and what you’re doing – what your superpowers are. So not so much directing you toward specific jobs or careers but highlighting what it is about you that employers would find valuable. The focus is not just to get you into a career that aligns with what you’re good at, but also what you find meaningful as well.”
MatchWork’s technology assists governments, economic development agencies, employers and organizations such as Communities United. It enables them to identify what drives their workforce population to work, what barriers they might face and what factors could be impacting retention. It provides both detailed larger population level insights as well as ideal work profiles for individuals, based on their unique combination of education, work experience and personal situation.
Kenya Kondo, co-founder of MatchWork was always intrigued by the simple question, “What are you going to do when you grow up?”, that ultimately influenced his eventual career choice. “Through my own winding career path, the realization, the light bulb moment, was that the way work resumes have been designed, it may be outdated,” he explains.
“The idea of, ‘you have been trained in X, therefore, you can only do job X’, I think is becoming less and less relevant. What matters is what each person’s abilities are, based on your education, work experience, and what meets the unique needs of an employer. What we’re doing in the workforce arena through MatchWork, is moving the employer and employee relationship from just a transactional one to mobile engagement with employers looking for someone to add value to their business.”
Communities United launched their pilot project with Matchwork in February 2020, right before COVID hit. The entire delivery plan had to be altered because of the pandemic, forcing them to come up with creative ways to encourage participation.
Originally, the MatchWork program was to be offered through in-person community engagement at the Community Recreation Centre, library and mobile units equipped with laptops. The plan quickly shifted to on-line delivery, where Andrew and other students who were enrolled in summer digital and entrepreneurship skill building courses, were also able to take the MatchWork survey.
Here’s how MatchWork works: Participants like Andrew are invited to create a work profile online and answer simple questions to help figure out what meaningful work looks like to them. The survey has questions divided into three specific categories that represent the gut, head and heart.
The gut is what actually internally drives you to work; why you need to work. The head speaks to things you are able to do in a worker context – not just having a great skill but more importantly, also feeling enjoyment using that skill. The heart is what energizes you at work and what you need from your workplace to feel fulfilled, connected and engaged. MatchWork then takes all those attributes and compares results with different job banks including Indeed and Monster and uses algorithms to search and find the most likely meaningful and engaging jobs currently available for you.
“I went through it myself,” says Matthew about trying out the MatchWork survey. “And it was interesting because what came out at the top of my skills was ‘Getting along with others.’ That would never have come to mind for me, even though it’s incredibly valuable in the work I do. So often in interviews, you’ll be asked, “What are you good at?” And for some reason, it’s hard for people to talk confidently about their strengths. MatchWork identifies these for you and enables you to talk about your strengths with confidence.”
“For employers, the value of MatchWork is finding better fits for the employees and ultimately, better engagement, and retention activity for the nonprofits,” explains Kenya. “It’s a more useful tool in terms of matching people to jobs, especially those folks who are out of work, and then as an easier approach in terms of connecting students to jobs while they are in school as well as after they graduate. These employers can all get better data that then informs their strategies, and their decision making around employment, recruitment and retention.”
Around 190 participants to date have taken the survey, and positive word of mouth has helped spread the news about the project. “I told my friends about MatchWork and a lot of people took it,” says Andrew, who is also actively involved in the South Sudanese Youth Group. MatchWork is currently open to the public of all ages and backgrounds through https://cuyeg.mymatchwork.com/ and Communities United will be extending their partnership with MatchWork to engage with youth throughout the summer.
For more info on how you can get one step closer to finding meaningful work visit: https://cuyeg.mymatchwork.com/ and take the free MatchWork online survey today!