“Imagine the perfect job suddenly knocks on your door.” An Interview with Woo’s CEO

Eric Sumner

 

The hardest part about job hunting is knowing when to start and staying low key. That’s why so many people wait “until it becomes unbearable for them to stay another day at their current job,” says Woo CEO and Co-founder Liran Kotzer.

According to Kotzer, that needs to change.

“You don’t want to search for a job when you need to search for a job. You want to search when there’s a better opportunity for you.”

Woo, launched publicly in February of 2016 as a tool for matching candidates with employers through AI-powered technology, offers a more anonymous experience that only connects job seekers with companies that both meet their requirements and take an interest in them.

Perhaps describing Woo’s service as just a “tool” doesn’t do it justice, as Woo takes job matching a step further. Unlike services such as LinkedIn’s, the U.S.-Israeli company provides job seekers with an agent-style experience. Users submit a “wish list” of requirements – including location, company type, salary-range, and work-life balance and Woo’s AI-powered technology, Helena, takes care of the rest.

“Once they set up their wish list with Woo, they are going to get opportunities from companies that meet their requirements,” says Kotzer. “Otherwise they will not hear from us.”

Kotzer, who started programming at age 13 and served in the IDF’s computing and information systems unit, Mamram, launched Woo with CTO and Co-founder Ami Dudu with a seed funding budget of $2.35 million. Since 2016, that budget has grown into $11.4 million.

The way Woo sees it, the core problem with today’s job-matching market is on the candidate’s side. If you consider a job a consumer product, as Woo does, the consumer experience of finding a new job in today’s market is so burdensome it scares talent away.

Firstly, it requires job seekers to publicly classify themselves as such, which is inconvenient and potentially risky. A developer working for Microsoft doesn’t want his or her boss to learn they’re actively seeking a new job behind enemy lines at Apple.

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Secondly, it compels candidates to apply for dozens of jobs before they know whether the positions even meet their requirements, or whether they themselves meet the standards of the companies for whom they’ve applied to work.

Most importantly, though, there are limited resources for professionals to consult with in today’s market regarding their value as employees and demand for their skills in the workforce. Once again, who are they going to ask? Their boss? Not likely.

Woo’s model changes that dynamic by pairing candidates with only interested companies.

“If you’re notified of a job opportunity at Woo, it means you’ve already caught the employer’s attention as well,” says Kotzer, a self-described techie.

On the employer front, it helps companies engage with people who are considering looking for a new job, but aren’t ready to come out of the shadows and risk being seen by their current employers.

“Woo is a great channel for employers because candidates are – anonymously – telling companies how to pull them away from their current jobs,” says Kotzer.

Another perk: Woo evens out the job-hunting playing field, as Helena sometimes pairs candidates with companies that otherwise wouldn’t have considered them for lack of a specific qualification. Helena matches candidates to jobs based on their skills and ability to perform – to get the job done.

“The candidate with the Harvard degree, or the candidate with 10 years of experience isn’t always the right person for the job,” says Kotzer. “Sometimes the brilliant candidate with the less prestigious degree, or the candidate with one year of experience, is a much better fit.”

Now operating in Israel, New York, and San Francisco, Woo serves every kind of tech professional, boasting more than 20,000 candidates going into 2018 and hiring for more than 250 companies, including big names like Uber, Lyft, and Microsoft.

Woo is going big, aiming to hit four more cities by first half of 2018 and expand its job-matching services into other fields.

“Marketing, sales, finance, law. Eventually, everyone will be able to use Woo,” says Kotzer. “There’s a void here that needs to be filled. And we’re going to fill it.”