Get Smartt

online job network changes face of area employment

Emily Thierfelder, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Take the accessibility of online job search engines like and, add in the networking capabilities of real-person employment centers like Eau Claire-based Flex-Staff and Manpower, combine these aspects with an incredibly local focus and put it all on a highly developed, interactive website and you’ve got yourself the newest job talent recruitment program, the SMARTT Network.

Developed by the Eau Claire Economic Development Corporation to retain and recruit job talent in western Wisconsin, the SMARTT network seeks to change the face of employment opportunities in the Chippewa Valley by emphasizing employee skills rather than titles and degrees.

“Right now, employers are rethinking how they are hiring people,” said EDC Marketing Director Erin Trowbridge, who has been with the non-profit since 2007. “Employers are more cognizant of the people they are hiring. They’re not just going to say, ‘OK, I need to get this done really fast, so let’s hire somebody immediately.’ Instead, they’re going to take a little more time and think it through a little bit more.”

Through the network, job-seekers will create profiles by answering questions and filling in other information. Unlike typical job search engines, however, the answer options are skills and abilities rather than titles and fields. Job seekers can also add leadership experience, professional accomplishments, and certifications. Once those profiles are submitted, only businesses within a 60-mile radius of Eau Claire will be able to see them – thereby ensuring that local talent stays local. Interested businesses will then be able to search the network for specific capabilities they need in employees.

For instance, say Company ABC needs to fill the position of “Creative Director.” Because that title can mean different responsibilities for different companies, simply searching for people who included that title or a title like it on their profile, or even simply worked in the field of marketing, may or may not get the needed results. Instead, Company ABC can log into the SMARTT Network and search for keywords like “leadership,” “product launch,” and other necessary attributes.