Ditch your 9-to-5 Job and Work Abroad: Q&A with Karoli Hindriks, Founder & CEO of Jobbatical

Skills are becoming global and the time is perfect for collaborative teams, where different nationalities enrich the culture. Great things happen when you encourage smart people with different backgrounds to interact. 

As the global labour force becomes increasingly mobile in the current economy, more are willing to consider going abroad for a job. In a survey by Boston Consulting Group and The Network, younger people are substantially more willing to work abroad.

Jobbatical wants you to ditch your 9-to-5 and work abroad – an online platform for job seekers to find short-term employment opportunities anywhere in the world.

LadyBoss spoke to Karoli on the idea behind Jobbatical and the future of the company.

Q: Tell us about your business. How long you’ve been doing it, and who your users are?

A: We launched Jobbatical at the end of 2014 and recently celebrated our second birthday. Jobbatical is a marketplace therefore we have both talent users and business users. Our talent users are tech and business talent looking to take their career to another country. The client companies we work with are either unable to find local talent with specific skill sets or are just interested building a more culturally diverse team and need our help to fulfill one or both of those goals.

Q: What were you doing before entrepreneurship? Tell us about your background and how it helps you with what you are doing now?
A: Well, since I started my first company at the age of sixteen before entrepreneurship basically I was just a kid!
Long story short then I came from a small town in Estonia, which is located in the Northern Europe. In school we had a chance to start a student business and I had an idea of a fashionable accessory that makes you visible to the cars in traffic. I got a patent and became the youngest inventor in my country (that was really good for marketing!). I have been building teams and companies ever since.
Where will your next job take you?
Where will your next job take you?

Q: What’s the idea behind Jobbatical?

A: In 2012 I was lucky enough to have been chosen to attend a Singularity University summer program at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. The whole summer I was surrounded by the biggest thinkers and innovators in the world who are working on finding solutions to various global problems. I thought about how we have all those different programs helping to distribute wealth across the globe, but that wealth does not help much without the knowledge.
So why aren’t we distributing the knowledge in the same way? And what could be a better way to distribute knowledge than moving people around the world?
Coming from a small country I knew how difficult it was to reach certain talent and how in those remote areas of the world you just had to settle with the talent you had available instead of finding the best person for the job. Also being a Millennial, with friendships spanning from California to Australia, I realized that our generation has become more curious to move around in the world. I connected those dots and that is how Jobbatical was born. We believe that great teams can be built from anywhere, just like great talent can come from everywhere.
Q: How is Jobbatical relevant with the recent trend of sourcing for talent internationally?
A: I think there are two significant things that affect the need and opportunities for sourcing talent internationally.
First of all, people change jobs more often than ever before. According to some sources the average tenure in tech is already as short as 18-24 months globally. When people change jobs more often, companies have to work harder at retaining them as well as attracting new people. But the opportunities lie in the fact that as individuals our comfort zones have expanded globally with the networked age.
Fifteen years ago our comfort zone was very much connected to our geographical location: our workplace, our school, our neighbourhood, etc. Today our friendships run in verticals of interests, so my best friend can be in Tokyo, Barcelona or Sydney, which means that we are getting more comfortable moving around those locations. This means that suddenly finding great talent is not only the privilege of the nerve centers of the world.  
Q: Give us an example of how a user (employers or prospective employees) might use Jobbatical?
A: A marketer who has always dreamed of living in Southeast Asia joins Jobbatical to browse for inspiration. A company in Malaysia is struggling to find a digital marketer experienced enough to build their global business turns to Jobbatical and after verification of the company they start their campaign.
The marketer gets a notification about this opportunity and engages with the company. After several interview rounds the talent and the company agree to work together and the talent flies to Malaysia to fulfill his lifelong dream. We facilitate the two parties with the same goals in finding each other and connecting.
Q: In terms of sales & marketing, how do you reach your customers, and what works?
A: Just like our clients, Jobbatical’s team is built by using the Jobbatical platform. I have the smartest people from 10 different nationalities sitting around the table and building our company, therefore proving that our own model works. And always hire people smarter than you! Candidates and companies alike find us through word of mouth, social media, search engines, live events held around the world, job postings, conferences we speak at, and our blog.
Q: What are the lessons that you’ve learned so far from entrepreneurship?
A: Probably the biggest lesson from my earlier ventures is an improving (but not yet perfect) ability to focus and to say no.
Q: Where do you see the future of Jobbatical?
A: We want to make hiring internationally as simple as hiring locally through our services as well as through opening those discussions with policymakers.
Q: Tell us about your Number 1 business challenge?
A: Challenges are part of the journey. Knitting together your vision into an actual business, knowing what to listen to and sticking to your beliefs – all of that is huge.
Q: As an entrepreneur, what motivates you personally?
A: The thought that I can change the world just like every other change-maker who has been just a regular person like me is what gives me the strength to move towards that.
Q: What would be your advice for aspiring women entrepreneurs?
A: Don’t let anyone (even yourself) tell you that you cannot do something. Ever. And self-doubt is part of that journey. Not a day passes by when I don’t think that I am the biggest loser or that I am pretty cool! On some days you lean more to one side or the other.
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