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Jillian F. Meadows, OD, MS: Tell us about the concept and creation of CovalentCareers.com.
Ryan Corte, OD: The concept of CovalentCareers.com originated out of my previous experience in human resources as a recruiter and through Dr. Geller’s entrepreneurial experience developing successful websites. Our goal was to provide a new, more efficient way to reduce common staffing and employment headaches for health care professionals through a sophisticated and easy-to-use job matching platform.
After the addition of two key members (Josh Geller, chief technology officer; and Brett Kestenbaum, DPT, chief visionary officer), we were able to design and implement a business plan that landed us a $2.2 million valuation after receiving a seed round of private equity funding in the fourth quarter of 2014. From there, we were on a tight timeline to have our minimum viable product ready for this year’s graduating class by spring 2015.
Matt Geller, OD: For optometry and ophthalmology practices both large and small looking to hire optometric staff and doctors, our website, CovalentCareers.com, is a human resources technology platform that provides practices with well-sourced job seekers while organizing, matching, and scoring each candidate using an algorithm.
Unlike job boards, advertisements, or sites such as craigslist.org, which require paper printing, multiple accounts, multiple passwords, payment information, and duplicating the same info over and over, CovalentCareers.com matches employers, optometrists, and staff organized by specialty, years of experience, compensation, benefits, résumé storage, long-term goals, culture fit, and more, without ever navigating away from a single screen, paying multiple fees, or dealing with outdated technology.
Dr. Meadows: Sounds like this is long overdue. Is CovalentCareers.com for optometrists only?
Dr. Corte: No. At this time, CovalentCareers.com has a fully functional platform for optometrists and opticians. We will begin scaling out to include other health care professions in fall 2015. Our overall goal is to evolve into a career website that supports the vast majority of health care professionals.
Dr. Meadows: Some describe CovalentCareers.com as a professional spin on online dating sites. Do you agree?
Dr. Corte: That’s one way to look at it. With the technology available to us today, why wouldn’t someone want to use a platform that matches you with best-fit opportunities based upon your career goals, aspirations, and personal preferences?
Dr. Geller: Exactly. As Dr. Corte always says, CovalentCareers.com is like LinkedIn meets eHarmony—a truly powerful combination.
Dr. Meadows: What elements are considered in the algorithm? How does it identify a match?
Dr. Geller: The algorithm considers many objective factors, including location, experience, interest, culture, salary, long-term practice goals, experience with ophthalmic equipment, and much more. Most important, the algorithm learns as it operates and allows us to develop a more precise matching system over time. It identifies a match by scoring various weighted fields and comparing this information to the overall practices and candidates on CovalentCareers.com.
Dr. Meadows: Aside from the online matching service, what differentiates CovalentCareers.com from other job boards and staffing services?
Dr. Geller: A few things. First, economically, it is much more cost-effective because the pricing for a listing is less expensive than the going rate. Also it organizes and matches so well that it saves human hours and manual labor input, and hence billable employee hours.
Second, socially, people no longer want to submit their résumés blindly to some random website. Instead, they want control over their personal and professional online identities that truly represent themselves, and CovalentCareers.com delivers this exact social experience.
Third, technologically, we need to understand that average job boards are still using technology developed in 1995 when the first job board hit the internet. Why should professionals use sophisticated technology in all areas of their life except when it comes to their careers? CovalentCareers.com was made with 2015 technology in mind, not 1995.
Dr. Corte: Also, our platform has been designed, built, and managed by very forward-thinking and driven health care professionals. Our core leadership team has experience in various health care fields and human resources, as well as a track record of developing successful websites. We’re determined to revolutionize the way health care professionals discover job opportunities, with the goal of helping them maximize their overall career outlook and satisfaction.
Dr. Meadows: Do you have any success stories to share?
Dr. Geller: Dr. Lawrence Yu was one of the first job seekers to have a successful hire using CovalentCareers.com. He now works with Dr. Albert Chun at Southbay Optometry in Torrance, California. This practice is a staple in the community when it comes to vision therapy and contact lens care, and if it weren’t for CovalentCareers.com these two might not have found each other. (See the Facebook post that Dr. Yu made when he found his position through covalentcareers.com.)
Dr. Meadows: What does it take to sign up?
Dr. Corte: A little bit of courage to try a new and innovative way to highlight your professional opportunity or career.
Dr. Geller: Just visit CovalentCareers.com, enter your email and password, and you are signed up. From there, you create a profile, which takes about 6 minutes, and then you immediately see your matches. You can then message your matches via our secure messaging system and learn about them through the robust profile view with six tabs of details and data for each match.
Dr. Meadows: Congratulations on the new company and its innovative approach to career matching. Those who are not early adopters may be a bit hesitant. Where can they go to learn more about your service?
Dr. Corte: Visit CovalentCareers.com and click on “About” or “FAQ” at the top of the page. Also, you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, where Dr. Kestenbaum will take you into the lives of the people who make up the world of eye care.
Dr. Meadows: You mentioned earlier that CovalentCareers.com was initially created by optometrists for optometrists. How do you balance busy clinical careers with the development of a startup?
Dr. Corte: Very carefully! Aside from seeing patients 5 days a week, CovalentCareers.com has almost fully consumed my spare time, including lunch breaks, evenings, and weekends.
Dr. Meadows: For all of the budding optometrists out there with an entrepreneurial spirit, what advice would you give?
Dr. Corte: Walk before you can run. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but to actually see them through to fruition takes a lot of time, energy, resources, hard work, and a little bit of luck. If you have an idea, explore it further, draw up a business plan, and go from there.
Dr. Geller: There is so much to say. To keep it simple: Read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill or As a Man Thinketh by James Allen. These two books essentially teach the concept that what you focus on in your thoughts will expand to become your reality. That is the driving concept that has led to all the manifestations of my entrepreneurial endeavors.
Dr. Meadows: Great advice. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to provide us with some insights into CovalentCareers.com. Would you like to make any final remarks?
Dr. Corte: To see CovalentCareers.com grow from an idea to a fully functional website has been an absolute blessing. We’re here to help improve the outlook and delivery of health care, and that starts with cultivating the right employee-employer relationships. In keeping with our goal of being a company that is always open to feedback, readers can feel free to send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Geller: CovalentCareers.com is on a mission to remove staffing headaches in health care, and we will, beyond a shadow of a doubt, achieve that mission. In addition, CovalentCareers.com will become a symbol for health care offices that put employees first. n
Section Editor Jillian F. Meadows, OD, MS
• Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Ryan Corte, OD
• In private practice at Modern Eye Care and Premier Family Eye Care in Charlotte, North Carolina
• Cofounder and chief operating officer of CovalentCareers.com
Matt Geller, OD
• In private practice at Casa De Oro Eyecare Optometry and Lakeside Optometry
• Founder of OptometryStudents.com and NewGradOptometry.com
• Cofounder and chief executive officer of CovalentCareers.com