In just over a year Genevieve George has made flexible work accessible for over 200,000 people.
In June 2012, 23-year-old George started OneShift – an online job network that matches employees with employers for one-off shifts, casual work or permanent employment. She was prompted to set it up after becoming frustrated with the lack of shift-work recruitment sites during a working holiday in Europe. Fourteen months later the young entrepreneur employs 35 people and is looking to launch her website globally.
“Back in 2011 I went on a working holiday overseas. I finally secured some work but then they told me I had to wait a month before I could actually start and I thought, ‘What a waste’,'” George explains.
After negotiating with a coffee shop to work shifts here and there, in between travelling to make ends meet, George noticed the need for some kind of platform that could help shift workers and employers find what they need in the short term.
“I thought, why isn’t there anything like this in Australia where you can find skilled workers for when you need them as a business and also for job seekers to be able to use their qualifications and skill-sets to further themselves?” she says.
“For example, mums who have just had kids and have MBAs or degrees that they’ve spent four to six years on and want to do a couple of shifts here and there or contract work while they still have a family and a career at the same time.”
With this in mind, George – who briefly attended Bond University in Queensland studying property and law – returned to Australia where she worked at Colliers International until she got OneShift off the ground.
George has faced some resistance as a young entrepreneur shaking up the recruitment world; she says many professionals working in human resources departments inside large corporations have been skeptical and even fearful.
“I say to them ‘This is a tool to aid you, rather than spending $260 to post a job on Seek’,” she says. “Trying to work with them and getting them to take me seriously is a challenge.”
But George has enjoyed being able to prove her doubters wrong.
“A lot of people had the attitude of ‘Great idea but let’s see it actually happen’ –and it’s actually quite fun when I have shown them that it actually works,” she says.
Making it work hasn’t necessarily been easy though and George says the help she has received from her mentors has been instrumental in her success to date.
“It’s been really important to get a real cross section of advice because everyone has different opinions and experiences. I’ve tried to take in as much as I can,” George says. “I have had tips from everyone from John Symonds from Aussie Homeloans to retailer Brett Blundy and my dad has also been really involved.”
With approximately 212,000 users and about 1000 new users and 220 new businesses signing up each day, George’s biggest challenge now is keeping up with the growth. From small café businesses to large corporations and franchises, George is focused on watching her concept grow and developing OneShift in line with what her users want. Her next move is to take OneShift worldwide.
“We’re moving at such a fast pace. [We want the site to allow] users to jump on a plane, land in another country and match themselves to jobs when they’re there,” she says. “It’s really about pushing along with that globalisation and enabling people from a young age right up to an older age get work when they need it.”
This article first appeared on Women’s Agenda.