Student job seekers get helping hand thanks to university-based tech company

  • Date

    Fri 25 Jun 21

Student job seekers are being offered the edge in their bid to bag the best roles, thanks to an Essex tech start-up based on the University of Essex’s Knowledge Gateway research and technology park.

RoleCatcher, based at the Innovation Centre, Knowledge Gateway, is teaming up with Essex researchers to develop a new online tool to help job hunters manage their search after successfully applying for a £10,000 Innovation Voucher from the University, funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund.

This Colchester-based company launched in January this year, and they’re on a mission to shake up the current job-hunting process, which for many is stressful, time consuming, and complicated to manage.

They claim RoleCatcher will save candidates time by removing some of the manual processes and will help candidates feel more in control.

Users can search multiple job boards, organise their contacts, and search a directory of over 7.5 million companies by industry and location. They can also track the progress of all their applications in one hub.

The concept was born in 2019 when founder, James Fogg, joined the job market for the first time in twenty years.

“I was shocked to find how much had changed and not necessarily for the better. Algorithms had replaced humans and were capable of harvesting thousands of CVs.”

He soon realised that, whilst recruiters were reaping the benefits of this tech revolution, things had only gotten more complicated for candidates.

“Keeping up with all the moving parts became a full-time job. Live applications, upcoming deadlines, leads from contacts and companies, CV versions, follow-up actions… All of these things needed to be tracked manually.”

Feeling overwhelmed, he looked for an online management tool to help organise his search. Unable to find one that met his needs, he decided to create his own.

“I spent most of my professional life in project management and financial services, using tech to simplify and improve business processes. I thought, ‘here’s an opportunity for me to take that experience and turn it into something that can really help people'.”

Further development of the RoleCatcher platform is now being supported by funding from the University’s Innovation Voucher scheme.

James said: “The University has awarded RoleCatcher a £10,000 Innovation Voucher to help with an innovative module for the product. This will add functionality that extracts keywords from a shortlisted job specification and compares them against different versions of a user’s CV to select the one that is the closest match.It will then identify gaps in the best matched CV and generate suggestions to improve its chances of being shortlisted by an employer.”

The company will also be running a pilot scheme at the University of Essex over the next few months to support placement students.

James said: “The pilot scheme will offer placement students free access to the full capabilities of the RoleCatcher tool, enabling them to add structure around their search for an industrial placement. Using, they will search and manage the lifecycle of placement opportunities, track companies they are interested in working for, manage different versions of CVs and Cover Letters and keep on top of all the associated follow-ups actions. Learning how to apply this structured approach enables them to develop skills that will be useful throughout their future careers.”

RoleCatcher support also extends to employment opportunities for Essex graduates and students. The company has also employsed several Essex university graduates and organises internships and project placements to local students.

Though the platform was not fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has certainly amplified the need for it. The latest figures from Office of National Statistic show the unemployment rate is now at 4.8%, meaning one in 20 people who want a job can't find one.

RoleCatcher want to provide job seekers with a lifeline in the face of extreme uncertainty. James said: “Looking for a new job has always stressful, but never more so than it is now. By eliminating the more repetitive tasks, centralising the whole process, and make everything more efficient, we believe we can help the pressure off and set applicants on a clearer path.”

Student job seekers get helping hand thanks to university-based tech company