There’s a Norwegian startup that hopes to help its registered users find work and find it quickly. Aware of unemployment’s hold on the economy in many parts of the world, Lars Martinsen decided that his experience in HR would prove invaluable to the launching of his startup, JobCruiter.
It combines job search capabilities and listings with a social network element in which registered users can comment on the companies where they’ve worked. Registered users are also able to comment and rate educational institutions.
Job listings are culled neatly from other sites into the JobCruiter format, a unified visual presentation in which users are still given the option to view the original post by clicking on a link.
I had the opportunity to ask Martinsen about his favorite musician, the support of family, and visiting Poland in addition to what it’s like be an entrepreneur in Norway. Here’s what he told me :
Can you tell me about the intention and focus of your startup?
I’ve been working in HR with outplacement for several years, where my job mainly has been helping clients get a new job. Unemployment is, as we all know, a huge problem in many parts of the world, and finding a job in the current market can be a challenge. We wanted to give people access to the tools necessary to help them search for jobs in the most efficient way. I have seen many highly qualified people struggle in their job seeking process just because they have a resume that does not look good in the eyes of a recruiter or they do basic mistakes in a job application.
Can you tell me about the early days of your company? (What was it like starting out?)
Our company started out with the development of an online tool for job applicants, that we used in extensive downsizing processes in the Nordic countries. When we saw how helpful this solution was to our users, we got the “crazy idea” to give it away for free as part of an online social network. We also saw the need for a more exciting career network than what existed.
How did you find the support from your family or friends?
We would not be where we are today if it was not for the constant support and feedback from our families and friends, their input has been extremely valuable in the development and opened our eyes to different perspectives on the challenges that have arrived. Also, they have invited their friends… and were the beginning of our growth.
How did you handle the challenges early on in your business during the early days?
Running your own business is challenging, and especially all the paperwork necessary can be a pain. We learned the hard way that outsourcing the accounting , for instance, can be an expensive affair if you use the wrong company. Always agreeing on numbers of hours spent on a task before the project starts is something that should have saved us some of the [much]-needed startup funds.
Did you begin with funding or was it self funded?
We started without external funding, but have had some people investing recently. Today, we have enough revenue to cover our costs. We have received some investor attention, and are now in a phase were we are considering some model of cooperation so that we can grow further.
How many people were involved when JobCruiter began and who were they?
We’re a total of five people, with two-full time people working exclusively with JobCruiter. We are also involved in other HR projects and consulting that provides a revenue stream for expansion of the startup.
What new elements are JobCruiter planning on rolling out soon?
Our main focus right now is getting the service better known. We’re also planning to improve our mobile application and partner up with interesting companies to make JobCruiter a better service for all of our users.
How do you see your company in five years?
As one of the leading professional career networks in the world that helps users millions of users make the most of their career potential.
What lessons have you learned from running your own business?
It’s demanding and challenging with new obstacles around every corner – and long work hours. But, it’s also very rewarding when you are successful and reach your goals.
What keeps you moving forward?
Not to sound too much like a cliché, but I’m inspired by anything that makes the world a better place and keeps it going in the right direction.
Tell me about your favorite musician :
My personal favorite is Elvis. His music and style on stage gives me great inspiration.
Where do you like to go for vacation when you actually have that time?
I like travelling especially Eastern Europe with relaxed atmosphere and friendly people. This summer I’ll try to go to and see more of the beautiful country of Poland.
What country would you like to visit that you’ve never been to?
Israel and Russia are on the top of my list of places that I’d like to visit. I’ve never been to either and I want to explore the people, culture, and food.
Do you speak any foreign languages? Which ones and why/how did you start learning them?
My mother tongue is Norwegian. I also speak English and a few words in German. I’m hoping to learn Polish, but it’s a difficult language and it’s been hard for me to find the time to start learning.
What trick have learned that helps you balance your work with your personal life?
Working in my own startup feels like a natural thing to me and not so much like “I have to go to work.” Rather, I’m at work all the time. I think it’s important to also take time to relax, unwind, and take a step back so you are not completely consumed by your work no matter how fun it might be.