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No Computer? Startup Lets Job Applicants Apply Via Texting


Many of us are connected to the Internet almost all the time. But there are still lots of people who have no way to get online and for them, it can be hard to find a job in this increasingly digital world. It can also be hard for employers to find those workers.

Now, one startup in Kirkland aims to help people apply for jobs using nothing more than an ordinary flip phone. 

Luis Salazar immigrated here from Venezuela to work for Microsoft 13 years ago. Earlier this year, he launched a startup called Jobaline. The service connects employers like Pizza Hut and Safeway with workers who may not have access to the Internet - instead, it lets them apply through text messaging. They don’t even need to have a smart phone.

Salazar says he got the idea after seeing his local café in Kirkland post a help wanted sign week after week.

"I became curious and I talked to the manager asking, `How does it work? How do you find people? Because I use LinkedIn but I assume that you don’t find your baristas on LinkedIn, right?'" Salazar said. "And he said, `Oh no, let me tell you.' And he started to explain all the inefficiencies."

Inefficiencies like too much time spent weeding out people who aren’t qualified. So Jobaline screens applicants for the employers by asking them basic questions like – do you have reliable transportation? How much job experience do you have? And then Salazar’s company does an automated phone interview and passes the answers on to the employer. 

Salazar says his company is bridging the digital divide that keeps a lot of job seekers from finding work. Jobaline currently serves the Seattle, Miami and San Francisco areas. He’s just raised more than $4 million from Madrona Venture Group and others, and with that cash, Salazar aims to expand nationwide. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.