by James A. Martin

Traction Watch: Not Actively Looking disrupts search firm model, grows user base 90 percent

Jul 07, 2015

For senior executives who are pondering the thought of a position with a new firm, these prestigious positions are often difficult to find out about. ‘Not Actively Looking’ a new executive search firm has the solution and is really gaining traction in this focused space.

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You’re a senior executive wondering what might come next in your career. Positions at your level are rarely advertised or posted. So you contact a search firm or two. You tell them you’re, “not actively looking” but might be interested in a new position, should the right one present itself. You email them your resume. They promise to keep you in mind. While many times there may be no results from the exchange for months, if ever.

joseph blass ceo not actively looking(Joseph Blass)

In this regard, communications between senior executives and search firms, “is still very 20th century,” according to Joseph Blass, CEO and co-founder of the aptly named Not Actively Looking, a startup gaining traction by disrupting those outdated communications.

Not Actively Looking is like an exclusive LinkedIn. This cloud-based service allows professionals, most of whom earn $160K to $800K and up, privately share their latest CV (curriculum vitae) with one or more search firms of their choosing. In their profiles, execs can disclose salary requirements and career aspirations — two things most would never dream of posting on LinkedIn. (To learn more, click the Privacy Policy link at the bottom of any page on the site.)

not actively looking user profiles

Not Actively Looking gives search firms instant access to a pool of high-level professionals and their updated career information, Blass explains. This can reduce the time it takes to conduct an executive search — no small feat, given that executive searches can take six months or longer, according to Blass. The service also helps search firms increase the odds of finding an ideal candidate.

Upon its March 3, 2015 launch, 14 search firms had joined Not Actively Looking. By May 15, the number had doubled to 28. As of this writing, 49 search firms are members, according to Blass.

not actively looking chart

The site currently has “thousands” of executives registered, Blass says. Though declining to offer a specific number of executive users, Blass says registration among potential job seekers increased 90 percent in June compared to May. On some days, more than 100 new execs register with the site, he adds.

While those figures may not look big on the surface, Blass points out that Not Actively Looking is targeting a much narrower demographic than, say, a job site for professionals at all levels. He adds that the executive members visiting the site are located in more than 60 countries, and that at least 40 percent of the executives who are invited to join the site, actually do so after visiting. The search firms range from global players such as Calibre One, to niche firms in countries such as Ireland and Denmark.

Only a few years ago, while with Toucan Limited, a U.K. based telecom firm that Blass founded, he met his co-founder, Anthony Harling. At the time, Harling was a partner at the search firm Heidrick & Struggles. The two began developing Not Actively Looking in October 2014. Private investors, as well as Blass and Harling, provided the startup’s funding costs, the amount of which Blass preferred not to disclose.

Initially, Not Actively Looking’s sole revenue stream was the $4.50 per month to which the executives paid in order to share their profiles with four or more search firms (three or less is free). The discounted rate will increase to $15 per month “down the road,” Blass says. Search firms don’t currently pay to play but may be charged later, he says.

For now, the objective is to continue gaining traction while spending minimal capital. “We want as long a runway as possible,” Blass adds.

Editor’s note: Traction Watch is a new column focused obsessively on growth, and is a companion to the DEMO Traction conference series, which brings together high-growth startups with high-potential customers. The next DEMO Traction will take place in Boston on September 16, 2015. Growth companies can apply to present, or those similarly obsessed can register here to attend.