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Networking Tools and Apps Job Seekers Should Know

In recent months, thousands of people have decided to retire early or leave the job market for a period of time. This has been labeled as the “Great Resignation” by some, widely attributed to the pandemic in part. But an even more appropriate term may be the “Great Reshuffling” as individuals look to change careers and industries. As time passes, many people are considering looking for work that offers them greater value if not reward. But finding employment in the aftermath of the pandemic isn’t the same as before. Old job networking tools such as job fairs have yet to reemerge. And new apps for job seekers have appeared to fill the void.

Interestingly, there are several apps for job seekers that can help with networking and with finding the perfect opportunities. Many of these are relatively new, coming of age during the pandemic. Others have advanced their platforms to accommodate a digital age where job searches are predominantly handled online. For those looking for new positions, especially in new industries, these job networking tools are essential. As a result, the following lists several apps for job seekers that might be explored in today’s rapidly changing environment.

“Online communities are a huge tool to connect with other people, and their importance escalated even more so during the pandemic. Getting information, understanding the trends in job searching, and supporting each other is really everything.” – Wendy Saccuzzo, Head of Hiring Services, Tech Ladies

Top Apps for Job Seekers Today

Naturally, those looking for work today must turn to online forums and sites in order to apply. Some require online video interviews, and most all of them utilize software to screen applicants and resumes. Those that appear to be leading the way in a post-pandemic world includes ones that list job openings and connect seekers with employers. (Read more about the businesses thriving in the post-pandemic world in this Bold story!) And each has unique services that can help in this regard

  • LinkedIn – Over the course of the last year, LinkedIn has seen a 50% increase in users. In the process, it has adapted to many of the changes that the pandemic has triggered. One of the most important includes filters that allows searches based on on-site versus remote/hybrid work. LinkedIn also continues to be an excellent resource for industry information.
  • Indeed – This app for job seekers is well-known and has hundreds of thousands of job listings online. But it too has evolved in the last year. One of the most notable additions to the platform involves the ability for employers to conduct video interviews over the site. This has proved to be one of the important job networking tools as remote work has become more popular. (Dig deeper into the remote work pivot in this Bold story.)
  • ZipRecruiter – Another app for job seekers that’s popular is ZipRecruiter. Its recent advances include the use of artificial intelligence to allow conversations with potential job applicants. Its AI bot, Phil, learns about specific interests, skills, and wants of individuals in an effort to better connect them with jobs and recruiters. This makes it a very attractive app for job seekers who want to find the perfect match.

“The immense growth we’ve seen across Fishbowl’s digital communities — or bowls — over the past 18 months highlights the critical need for jobseekers and employees to gain information from people beyond their immediate circle.” – Matt Sunbulli, CEO and Co-Founder of Glassdoor’s Fishbowl

Essential Job Networking Tools

Finding available job openings and connecting with employers is certainly important. But for many people today, they want to work for a company that has value and meets their personal and professional needs. The best way to do this is through professional networking efforts, which has also moved into the online arena. The following are some that can help greatly in this regard.

  • Slack – This app for job seekers has been cited as one of the best job networking tools. The platform is used by many companies to facilitate internal communications. But it also is being frequently utilized for broader insights about insiders within specific industries. In addition, Slack offers tremendous opportunities for networking in an age when doing so is much more difficult than before.
  • Fishbowl – Believe it or not, Glassdoor’s Fishbowl has over 1 million users currently. It too offers individuals great job networking tools by connecting job seekers to professionals in specific industries. By broadening connections in areas of interest, it’s becoming one of the most popular apps for job seekers.
  • Blind – When it comes to finding the right position, company culture is an important factor. This is where Blind can help as it helps job seekers learn more about a company’s culture from existing employees. Through a chat-based forum, potential applicants can often get the inside scoop regarding an employer they are considering.

“The white-collar tools don’t take into consideration what’s needed for an hourly worker. There’s been no place for restaurant workers to go to get advice on what they need to do to build their skills.” – Ware Sykes, CEO of Seasoned

Industry Specific Job Apps

One of the more intriguing developments as of late are apps for job seekers in industry-specific areas. Some target restaurant workers while others address the needs of hourly workers. Others offer unique services such as resume scans and resume quality scores. Depending on the needs of the person looking, these platforms can also be of great help in finding the right job.

  • Seasoned – As the name might imply, Seasoned is an app for job seekers within the restaurant industry. The company represents over 300 restaurants in 100,000 U.S. locations. It also has placed more than 250,000 employees. For those in the restaurant industry, it’s one of the important job networking tools meeting employers’ and employees’ unique needs.
  • Snagajob – Other industry-specific workers benefit from job networking tools as well. For those in hourly positions, Snagajob is one of the more popular apps for job seekers. Another similar platform is also Instawork, which similarly tailors to hourly-wage employees. These provide not only job listings but networking and informational resources as well.
  • Jobscan – One of the challenges today is getting one’s resume recognized. Most platforms use automation and software to screen resumes based on job descriptions. Jobscan offers a single free scan of one’s resume to assess its quality and renders an overall score. Subsequent resumes are charged a fee for scans thereafter. But this is also a valuable tool for job seekers in today’s marketplace.

Navigating Today’s Job Market

Based on recent reports, roughly 40% of workers under 40 years of age are considering a job change. The pandemic allowed them time to reconsider career options as well as life pursuits. But in the process, job networking tools changed and new apps for job seekers emerged. Knowing these tools and apps are important in order to get one’s foot in the door and in finding the right fit. At the same time, however, some things have not changed. Relationships still matter, and networking skills remain essential. Thus, while the tools have changed, the ultimate goals have not. Regardless of what apps and sites are utilized, job seekers should still strive to make real personal connections. Using modern tools to achieve these objectives is ultimately what will prove to be the most productive.


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Modern Problems, Modern Solutions: Crowdfunding Real Estate Capital

In many cities throughout the country, real estate demand has outpaced supply. This has resulted not only in skyrocketing real estate prices and rents but construction projects as well. Investing in these projects typically requires accessing publicly traded real estate investment trusts (REITs). Or for the more adventurous, it might mean investing in one’s own rental properties. In both instances, investors face risks with which they may be uncomfortable. Their preference would be to invest in these projects in a more organic way using a real estate crowdfunding platform. But such platforms have been lacking… until recently.

Groundfloor is now recognized as the first real estate crowdfunding platform to gain regulatory approval. Its site offers investors the opportunity to invest in commercial real estate investments without the need for registration. Notably, it has several years for the company to navigate its way through Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) obstacles. But it now stands well-positioned to reap the benefits of its efforts. Groundfloor recently announced its second public capital-raising effort outside its own platform users. And based on the response, it’s clear many anticipate this type of commercial real estate investments will be a hit.

“We launched Groundfloor as a completely new concept and in a brand new category, opening up the idea of direct real estate investing to everyday people in a new way, without forcing them into a fund.” – Brian Dally, Cofounder and CEO of Groundfloor

The Appeal of Real Estate Crowdfunding

It’s no secret that crowdfunding has been a popular way for many startups to raise needed capital. But crowdfunding sites for startups involved in commercial real estate investments didn’t initially exist. Regulatory hurdles stood in the way. (Read more about startup crowdfunding in this Bold story.) This changed with the passage of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act. This legislation allows small businesses to raise up to $75 million from non-accredited investors. In essence, this paved the way for companies like Groundfloor to launch its real estate crowdfunding platform. Armed with knowledge about regulatory dos and don’ts, Groundfloor was able to excel where others could not.

Notably, Groundfloor’s real estate crowdfunding site is attractive for real estate startups. Not only can they attract non-accredited investors, but they also do not have to register funding. At the same time, Groundfloor’s commercial real estate investments are appealing to investors. For new investors, the platform provides opportunities for safer options other than REITs and rental property purchase. Likewise, experienced investors prefer the site because of its ease-of-use and its app-based approach. Both have resulted in increasing popularity for Groundfloor’s site. Currently, they boast over 160,000 investors on their platform.

“With the launch of the Stairs app, we’re taking another big swing to reimagine how anyone can start saving and investing better, getting the advantages of investing in alternatives with the security of real estate backed loans.” – Brian Dally

Unique Services to Startups and Investors

The basic services provided by Groundfloor naturally lures investors from all walks of life. But the site also provides a clear risk assessment of its commercial real estate investments. Using a 6-factor algorithm, each potential real estate investment receives a score, which helps investors make choices. Because track records and business experience is heavily weighted, investors gain a greater sense of transparency. At the same time, Groundfloor reports that the average investor on its real estate crowdfunding site earns around 10% in returns. This has notably helped Groundfloor grow in size over the last few years.

some buyers checking out a house
Real estate crowdfunding puts capital in the hands’ of buyers.

At the same time, Groundfloor has similarly expanded its products. In recent years, it launched Stairs, which is a savings and investment platform. Money placed in Stairs earns investors a steady 4-5% rate of return annually, and they also enjoy instant liquidity if needed. Groundfloor, interestingly, uses the savings assets in providing loans to real estate startups temporarily. Once a loan has been provided, Groundfloor’s position is released to investors for commercial real estate investment considerations. Stairs has thus been an innovative structure by which investors, startups and Groundfloor all leverage their situation.

“We’re getting ready to go from 160,000 investors to a million investors in the next couple years.” – Brian Dally

A Solid Foundation for Future Growth

Despite having to wait for regulatory changes, Groundfloor has been busy ensuring their financial footing. In addition to launching Stairs, Groundfloor also introduced SeedInvest a few years back. SeedInvest is essentially an equity crowdfunding platform that enables Groundfloor to raise its own capital from its users. Since 2018, it has held 4 public equity investment opportunities resulting in $30 million gained from users. As a result, 30% of the real estate crowdfunding company is owned by Groundfloor investors. This has effectively allowed the company to limit other public capital-raising pursuits.

While SeedInvest has been effective, Groundfloor held a Series B funding round recently, which raised $118 million. Leading the round was Medipower with $5.8 million provided in capital. But Medipower is more than a firm seeing opportunities in commercial real estate investments. Groundfloor is actually forming a strategic partnership with the Israeli company  for the future. Medipower specializes in shopping centers and retail real estate, and it intends to offer loans to real estate startups. In 2022, Medipower expects over $100 million in such loans with $220 million in 2023. Groundfloor’s real estate crowdfunding platform provides an ideal site to achieve its objectives. And certainly, this will be quite advantageous for Groundfloor as well.

A Needed Expansion for Commercial Real Estate Investments

Without question, commercial real estate investments are hot currently. The mismatch between supply and demand over recent years has fueled a number of new real estate developments in the country. And given the need, it’s important to provide opportunities for startups to play a part in addressing the problem. Real estate crowdfunding sites like Groundfloor offer innovative solutions that align with advancing regulatory changes. And it allows investors of all types to provide capital for such startups in the process. Based on the current climate, it’s not surprising Groundfloor is seeing such growth. And it’s likely other such real estate crowdfunding companies will soon follow.


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Innovative Treatments for Spinal Cord Injury – Taking a Personalized Approach

Despite efforts to better manage spinal cord injury effects, results have been far from rewarding over the years. In the U.S. today, there are roughly 18,000 spinal cord injuries recorded annually. This ultimately results in more than 300,000 people struggling with related deficits thereafter in the country. A number of treatments have been tried to improve the secondary paralysis that is often present. This includes spinal cord implant treatments that either stimulate portions of the remaining spinal cord or replace damage cells. These past attempts have been of limited value. But now a different approach to spinal cord implant therapy looks to be quite promising.

Researchers at the University of Tel Aviv recently reported some very favorable findings. Using personalized medicine strategies, they developed a new approach to spinal cord implant treatments. Using this method, they were able to markedly improve existing paralysis. Improvements not only occurred in acute spinal cord injury but in chronic cases as well. Naturally, this offers great hope to the millions worldwide who suffer from spinal cord injury. But it also has the potential to offer new therapies involving many other health disorders as well. Their research highlights why personalized medicine is likely the way of the future.

“Individuals injured at a very young age are destined to sit in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives, bearing all the social, financial and health-related costs of paralysis. Our goal is to produce personalized spinal cord implants for every paralyzed person, enabling regeneration of the damaged tissue with no risk of rejection.” – Professor Tal Dvir, Sagol Center for Regenerative Biotechnology

An Innovative Spinal Cord Implant Approach

When it comes to spinal cord injury treatments, many investigators have tried spinal cord implant approaches. However, many have involved electrical stimulators that hope to promote regrowth of nerves through the damaged area. Others have implanted various biomaterials and mature cells in hopes of improvement. Also, some are now exploring robotic exoskeletons for spinal cord injury. Unfortunately, these methods have yielded limited benefits. In some cases, the body’s immune response prevents these tissues from thriving. Likewise, supporting tissues fail to provide a functional framework for nerve repair. These setbacks, however, is what led researchers to try a new technique.

(Read more about the use of robotic exoskeletons in medical settings in this Bold Business deep dive.)

Biomedical engineers in Tel Aviv decided to try a different method. They took a small biopsy of cells from the belly fat of mice. They then used genetic engineering techniques to reprogram these cells into more primitive embryonic cells. Notably, embryonic cells have greater potential to develop into any cell type, including spinal cord cells. The researchers subsequently separated these cells from the surrounding tissues, and create a hydrogel out of the non-cellular material. This hydrogel was then used as a supportive network where the embryonic cells might thrive. The spinal cord implant material thus consisted of this concoction, which was notably specific to the individual mouse.

“This is the first instance in the world in which implanted engineered human tissues have generated recovery in an animal model for long-term chronic paralysis – which is the most relevant model for paralysis treatments in humans.” – Professor Tal Dvir

Promising Results for Spinal Cord Injury Patients

According to recent research summaries, the scientists placed the spinal cord implant material in the injured area of different mice. Some of the mice had suffered acute spinal cord injury while others had chronic paralysis from prior damage. They then compared the mice’s ability ambulate weeks later and compared these two groups to untreated mice with spinal cord damage. Their findings demonstrated that the mice with acute injury were walking within 3 months after the spinal cord implant. But more interestingly, the mice with chronic paralysis responded as well. Over 80 percent regained the ability to walk. Both groups also performed much better than the mice receiving no specific treatments.

An x-ray of a spine with implants
Spinal cord implants might help solve the riddle of spinal cord injuries.

In assessing the response rates in more detail, the researchers identified some unique findings. Most importantly, the hydrogel provided a highly dynamic environment in which the implanted cells seem to thrive. Not only did this network promote growth but likewise maturation of the cells. This played a significant role in promoting spinal cord injury recovery and subsequent ability to walk. Based on these results, the researchers are hoping to begin human trials of their process in the near future. They have already approached the FDA in this regard. Given that other options of care are quite limited, the chances of approval are believed to be good.

“Since we are proposing an advanced technology in regenerative medicine, and since at present there is no alternative for paralyzed patients, we have good reason to expect relatively rapid approval of our technology.” – Professor Tal Dvir

Ushering In an Era of Personalized Medicine

The results of these most recent spinal cord injury studies are exciting. However, they highlight just how much more there is to learn about cellular repair and regrowth. Certainly, using genetic engineering to reprogram cells so that they have greater potential is important. This is the premise behind using stem cells to improve a number of health conditions. Efforts to produce these types of cells through 3-D printing are currently being pursued as a result. But the current study also shows that the surrounding tissue is also critical for success. The hydrogel in the spinal cord implant was just as important as the embryonic cells.

Understanding this, it is not surprising that the researchers envision this same process being utilized for other disorders as well. For example, a similar approach could replace cells affected by Parkinson’s disease in the brain. It could also be utilized to repair damaged heart muscle tissue after a heart attack. Even patients with macular degeneration might benefit from such an approach. While its use in spinal cord injury remains a top priority, the genetic engineering techniques have broad potential. By offering a more personalized medicine approach, the opportunities for success could be much, much higher.


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