Tech Workers Say State Jobs Website Is Lacking

Sep 8, 2014

State officials have said they want to attract more skilled workers to the state and keep more Vermont grads here. To that end, officials often point to a new jobs website created earlier this summer.

But not everyone thinks the site is useful.

The website Great Jobs in Vermont launched in June as part of a larger economic development plan to draw more workers to the state.

When it launched, Gov. Peter Shumlin and other state officials said the goal was to bring more awareness to Vermont-based companies and job openings.

Joe di Stefano runs a web design and development company in Burlington. He’s been critical of the site- starting with its slow load time.

When visiting the site, di Stefano found he had to wait almost a minute for the site to load. He says he worries that wait time could result in job seekers looking elsewhere.

“They’ll see the link, they’ll come, nothing loads,” said di Stefano. “And they’re going to forget about it.”

That’s not his only problem with the site.

“It’s all kind of centered around lifestyle in Vermont,” di Stefano says.

He wasn't the only one who noticed the tourism focus. Others responded on social media.

On the homepage, there’s a large image of a couple running. Below that, links to running and biking events, and recipes from Cabot cheddar. Further down the page, there are links to the Vermont Department of Labor job link, and a LinkedIn page.

Vermont Economic Development Commissioner Lisa Gosselin says there’s a reason for that.

Her office didn’t have the budget for a comprehensive job search site. The Vermont Department of Tourism was willing to feature the jobs campaign on their existing site.

“Tourism has a marketing budget. They had a program in place,” said Gosselin. “It’s actually been supported by Cabot, to reach out to communities around New England.”

"We are not trying to build the world's best job site." - Vermont Economic Development Commissioner Lisa Gosselin

She says the state is already working on a phase two iteration of the site. But still, she stresses that a comprehensive job site is not necessarily the goal.

“We are not trying to build the world’s best job site,” said Gosselin. “We’re looking at every opportunity we can find to better connect both Vermonters and prospective Vermonters with the really great opportunities that we have here.”

She also points out that there are several URLs that lead to the Tourism-hosted site, not just Great Jobs in Vermont. But di Stefano says that might do more harm than good.

"By having another website where we're focusing on the lifestyle aspect of Vermont, we're still not addressing that people don't think there are very many jobs here." - Joe di Stefano, web designer and developer

“By having another website where we’re focusing on the lifestyle aspect of Vermont, we’re still not addressing that people don’t think there are very many jobs here,” said di Stefano.

And that perception is exactly what the state is up against.