Sydney startup ConX wants tradies to stop relying on word of mouth to find work

- March 5, 2015 3 MIN READ

When we think of job search platforms, the big names like Seek and CareerOne are the first to come to mind. However, as niche platforms targeted at specific industries keep popping up, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the big names aren’t working for every kind of job.

Such is the case for tradesmen. With new contracting jobs popping up every day and requiring a quick turnaround, the big platforms – which require job seekers to sift through thousands of jobs and businesses to look through CVs – aren’t particularly suited to the trades and construction industry. What’s more, with tradies frequently shifting from site to site and job to job, subsequent work often comes from connections they made on a previous job. This means workers new to the industry can find it difficult to get work due to their lack of connections.

It was this idea that led to the creation of tradie job search platform ConX. Co-founder Annie Slattery, originally from Ireland, said that she and her co-founders, one of them a tradie himself, saw first hand how difficult their Irish friends were finding it to get trade jobs, even though Australian builders were crying out for workers.

“It didn’t take long to realise there was a huge problem industry-wide and a better solution than what’s currently available was needed. So we built a system that’s simple, convenient and cost effective for construction businesses of all sizes to source and hire workers in a really quick turnaround time,” Slattery said.

Contractors pay to post jobs, specifying things like the level of experience required, whether the tradies will need to bring their own tools, and the start and end date of a job.

ConX launched in beta last August. Slattery said the site has seen solid growth since the start of 2015, with over 400 tradesman now registered on the site and 70 jobs posted, each with multiple positions available. The site is currently charging $50 for each job posting.

“We’ve been focused on testing a few key channels, both online and offline, and will continue to test until we find out where we can get the most registrations for the cheapest price…We are currently running with a very basic transactional model but testing more complex models. If you can make a customer’s life easier, they will always choose you, so getting that price point spot on is critical,” Slattery said.

She said that the startup’s achievements thus far have been small but consistent, from getting the first 100 tradesmen registered on the site and getting the first businesses registered to return with good feedback and post another job.

“We are looking to build out the team and the product and start really ramping up the numbers by running a top down, bottom up approach. Top down we’re starting to form strategic partnerships with respected industry bodies and bottom up, we’ll be optimising channels where the tradies hang out,” Slattery said.

ConX may face competition from platforms like OneShift, which has already become an established name for short-term and contract jobs, and a quick search showing it boasts a significant number of job postings in the trades and construction industry. However, the fact that ConX is tailored to just one industry and hosts only industry-specific jobs may see tradies prefer it.

Furthermore, the biggest competition ConX faces may not be other job search platforms but, in fact, the word of mouth nature of hiring in the trades and services industry. It’s far easier for a boss to ask around about someone for a job rather than waiting a day or two to post a job online and look at applications. Partnerships with industry bodies will certainly help make ConX known to both businesses and workers. The networking side may even be able to help here – Slattery said Facebook has been a big driver to the site as tradies have shared the word about ConX.

To ramp up the business this year, ConX is applying for a government grant and will be looking to raise capital.