It may be a sign of the times with the introduction of a new $5.00 subscription fee introduced by Jobber.bm in February, as unemployment continues in Bermuda.

Jobber.bm notified members of the new fee for subscribers on ‘Friday the 13th’ (not intentionally), to either post jobs or for jobbers to secure jobs by placing bids on the local website.

Since the website launched in April 2014, “well over $50,000 has been earned…on jobs ranging from $20 – $2,000”. The highest paying single job to date was posted by Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute – a drywall project for $2,000.

Jobber partner Stafford Lowe said the new fee will pay for the website’s continued development.

“We’ve been excited to see actual companies posting jobs that have led to regular and full time employment. We are offering three months of unlimited use of the website for only $5.00.

“After paying this membership fee you can post as many jobs as you like and win as many jobs as you can! We will not charge you again until the three months are up and you can unsubscribe from the website at any time.”

He noted that Jobber.bm uses a “highly secure payment gateway from First Atlantic Commerce – a Bermuda company that provides the payment technology for many successful eCommerce websites in Bermuda and abroad”.

“Your credit card details will be processed with the highest standards of online security,” said Mr Lowe. “We will use these subscription fees for one purpose – to increase the number of jobs getting posted. We’re also planning to continue to partner with local businesses to create special promotions and discounts exclusively available to Jobber.bm members.”

He was hopeful members will “see the subscription as an investment in our local community to help people get back to work”.

“We have now built such a lot of great functionality into the website that we need to start paying for some of our costs,” said Mr Lowe. “We’re simply asking for jobbers to invest $5.00 from that first winning pay cheque to help us keep the website up and running.”

New features include Jobber Ratings with testimonials posted by those who have benefitted from the online employment service. Their main objective is twofold.

“For job posters we would say – invest in your community and get your job done for only $5.00. And for jobbers we would say – get serious – become a professional Jobber – $5.00 gives you the chance to bid on as many jobs as you like, and win as many jobs as you can in three months.

“We’re starting to see real companies use Jobber.bm as a way of trying staff out before they hire full time. If we can keep growing the website…then it could be the gateway to some great opportunities.”

He conceded that “the volume of traffic on the website has gone down…in response to the new requirement to subscribe”. But he said: “We’ve made it so that everybody can have at least one free go. We don’t want anybody to be asked to start paying until they’ve had some valuable interaction with the website.”

About 1,500 people have signed up to date. “I think that’s great, I mean if you think about it it’s 350 people’s lives we’ve changed even if only in a small way,” he said.

“Considering this is our first year where we came from zero – that’s pretty good. And the nice thing is for some of the jobbers they’ve done more than one job. We’ve seen people who have been able to do three, five, and some even ten plus jobs within that period and so it’s been good for people.

“We thought about it and said look – even if we don’t make a dollar out of this for ourselves it is good for Bermuda. We’re just not being greedy about this and trying to get it all up front.”

Admittedly he said transforming Jobber.bm into a reality hasn’t been easy since “it’s really been two years” since Mr Lowe and his partner developed the concept of Jobber.bm.

“My cousin Matthew Davis is a Bermudian who lives in London where he has a little software development company. I’m originally from the UK and married to a Bermudian. We thought if it it works in Bermuda we might be able to take it to the international level.

“We’re trying to create ultimate HR technology solution, and we’re getting excited about the number of actual real businesses who are starting to post jobs on Jobber.bm because it takes us up to the next level.”

Trucking jobs have been most popular in addition posts for handymen, gardnening and house cleaners. To date roughly 100 plus people have been placed in those job areas.

Two years in the making he also said building a website base requires “a lot of patience”. “You’ve got to be willing to take a financial risk that it may not come off,” said Mr Lowe.

“What makes it worth it to us is the fact that we have put in a feature where people can leave a review on how well the job was done. I get emailed everytime a review is left and they have almost always been really positive. The only negatives have been like the person didn’t show up or something like that.

“Once people have posted that first job then you tend to see them posting again and again because they realize it works.

“While times are tough it is up to the community to pull together, for us we want to see the community pull together and that doesn’t matter whether you’re Bermudian or not.”

Of all the jobs posted he said young black males have benefitted most in terms of demographics.

“There was really nice quote from a guy who basically said ‘look I’ve got a full time job now but there was a point where Jobber.bm almost saved my life because I just couldn’t find any work’.

“Jobber.bm provided that stop gap employment for him to do that, this is where the value is for the website. I honestly hope the subscription will catch on.

“It becomes very difficult for us to justify continuing to run it without it. At the very least we need to be able to cover our costs.”

By Ceola Wilson

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