5 things I’ve learned from running a job board in my community
The founder of New York City's Buscando Trabajo on creating a network that connects workers with positions in the service industry
Buscando Trabajo: Looking for Work in NYC is a “digital bulletin board” that has helped hundreds of people find jobs in New York City. Since its launch two years ago, it has garnered over 13,000 followers on a Facebook group and page. Followers of the site use Buscando to find out about lower-level restaurant, deli, prep, and bar-back opportunities in New York’s five boroughs.
I take photos of the “help wanted” signs that restaurants, delis, and bars post on their windows and then post those photos, along with the address and phone numbers, so followers will know where the job opportunities are. Buscando’s Facebook page and group have morphed into a community, and now contributors post photos of help wanted signs that they find as well. In the comments section, it’s typical to see full-on conversations with people helping each other. It’s a true community.
Buscando Trabajo is an outgrowth of my own work experience. Having worked in restaurants during and after college, I became friendly with my fellow workers, and they would ask me to help them find another dishwasher or busboy job for themselves or a family member. For various reasons of income and schooling, these new friends did not know how to navigate the various job sites and other opportunities on the Internet. As I would pass lots of restaurant windows with “help wanted” signs on them, I would text them the photo and address so they would know where to go in person. I later started the page and group so more people who needed this type of easy to access online bulletin board could use it.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way:
1. Your project does not have to be high tech.
I chose to put my project on Facebook because of its reach and ease of use for many job seekers. Everyone is on Facebook—it has nearly 2 billion users. And a large percent of U.S. Hispanics, the target of the Buscando community, on Facebook return to the site daily and are very likely to comment, message, and like posts. It was also an easy platform for me to use: walking to and from work, I can take a photo of the sign and post it in seconds.
2. If you notice something that could be better, make it better.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking at other popular job-finding websites, and I’m always shocked at how many restaurant owners or general managers ask for resumes to be emailed to them for someone applying to a dishwasher position, when for the most part, if you apply in person, you don’t need one. A lot of the people on the page who are actively looking for dishwasher positions don’t have resumes or even know how to create one. With Buscando, people looking for a job can just go to the restaurant and interview in person or call, no resume needed.
3. Listen to your community.
As the Buscando community grew, I realized from the questions and comments and messages that people wanted to see more restaurant jobs. So I concentrated on that, and occasionally posting about salon jobs or manicurist positions. People like the page because it is relevant, maintained, and safe. I monitor for spam and delete non-relevant posts (like rooms for rent).
4. Allow your community to support you and feel a sense of ownership.
Through the Facebook group, followers and members of the group are able to post their own photos of help wanted signs. Nothing makes me happier than someone posting that their job is hiring or they passed a sign and wanted to share it. There is a lot of subsequent comments and conversation that comes from that. I have seen a lot “regulars” post job opportunities they come across. When a question about location or pay comes up in the comments, they will take ownership and answer. Most people just follow the page, but I love when followers go above and beyond and take on a sense of ownership by posting photos or answering questions in the comments.
5. The impact you can have on people’s lives can be heartwarming.
One day my mom texted me a poster of a Christmas pop-up store and cafe that was looking for workers. I’ll never forget a message I received a few days after posting that sign. It was from a mother who wrote that she and her teenage son both applied for jobs at the cafe. Both she and her son got jobs. “I will be eternally grateful for this job,” she wrote me.