Landing Odd Jobs On the Regular
Lexington woman's website connects workers with jobs around town.
A Lexington woman is helping unemployed young people find odd jobs on the regular.
As CEO of Help Around Town, Reem Yared has established a hyperlocal online marketplace where locals looking for help around the house can connect with nearby students, young people and part-timers looking for work anywhere they can get it.
“I’m thinking of a pretty broad scope,” said Yared, a mother with children in high school and college. “You have yard work, babysitting, pet-sitting, tech support, driving and running errands, even internships.”
While the bulk of the jobs posted now consist of yardwork, or help around the house, Yared said Help Around Town will include opportunities in the areas of amateur tech support or providing rides around town.
However, if you’re looking for professional work, it’s best not to rely on Help Around Town, Yared said, because she’s not looking to be another Angie’s List.
“I don’t want to compete with the job boards, because there are so many of them and they do it so well,” said Yared. “If you want a professional, hire a professional. Don’t hire a kid. Nobody’s going to be happy.”
Inspiration struck about a year ago, when Yared was talking with a few other mothers about the difficulty their kids were having finding summer jobs.
One friend’s daughter went up north to Maine to counsel at a summer camp, while another’s daughter was unable to find work at the bagel shop where she had worked during the school year.
“From what I was hearing and reading, it seemed the older people who were out of work were taking the jobs that college kids normally get, and the college students were taking jobs normally held by high-schoolers,” said Yared. “So that left the high school kids out of work.”
After working as an Internet consultant for 15 years, Yared believed she could leverage her experience building marketplaces to create an online neighborhood service for finding and filling odd jobs of all kinds.
As of last week, Help Around Town had nearly 70 users, with at least one from Burlington, and 20 jobs looking for workers.
How it works
Spencer Gurley-Green, an 18-year-old who just completed his first year of college, has already landed a few jobs using Help Around Town. And he believes it could be possible to find “a fair amount of work” through the site this summer, while part-time seasonal jobs are hard to come by.
“Right now, there’s no chance for someone to hire a college kid for just the summer,” said Gurley-Green, who heard about the site from his mother, who knows Yared. “It fills a niche that’s not filled by anything else at this time. I have a feeling as more people hear about it, there will be more jobs and more people.”
Yared has promoting Help Around Town in person, as well as through online venues. “I’m going out and talking to people like crazy to make sure they know it exists,” she said.
For job-posters, signup is easy, according to Yared, who said posting jobs is free right now, but the site will soon move to a system where the first post is free and each additional job is $5.
The site is also rolling out a “Business Card” function, where, for $5 the job-seeker can expand his or her profile to include personal information, such as contact info and a resume.
Help Around Town is accesbile to teens, although the privileges expand with age.
Terms currently require 14 or 15-year-olds to have parental consent to sign up, as well as a $3 check as a form of proof of permission. Older teens, the 16- or 17-year-olds, can sign up without their parents, but emails and letters are sent to their parents, who can opt out after their kids sign up.
As far as monitoring jobs and workes, Help Around Town, at this point relies on users to keep themselves in check. Rating functions are being rolled out right now, and Yared said the fact that it's largely a neighborhood service should help keep people honest.
“I really see it as a rural and suburban service,” she said. “Because you really need that fear of your reputation. It’s an important part of the checks and balances.”