We’ve all seen the stereotypical LinkedIn update. An old colleague or acquaintance from high school who speaks very informally most of the time forgets how people speak and writes a paragraph with phrases like, “I’m pleased and honored and happy to announce and share…”
Peppered throughout these posts are motivational quotes and expressions of thanks to the author’s past supervisors and coworkers. These types of updates are common, but they often don’t ring true to the tiring reality of what the process of getting a job is like.
Enter Blind, the opposite of LinkedIn.
“We’re almost like the foil for LinkedIn. Blind is a bit more raw because it is anonymous. You can be a little bit more emotional, almost edgy,” says Rick Chen, director of public relations at Blind.
Founded in 2014, Blind is a forum and professional network where employees can freely discuss the dark side and stigmatized parts of being in the workforce.
On the platform, employees talk openly about pay transparency and seek career advice. The forum also has job postings, as part of the Talent by Blind recruiting portion of the app.
But they also make more honest and frustrated statements about how they disagree with company culture. A recent post from an anonymous Goldman Sachs employee on returning to office encapsulates the subversive side of Blind.
“I knew they’re really pushing for 3 days a week right now. Y’all think we’re moving to 5 days? If so, I’m out,” the Goldman worker posted.
Although employees are verified by entering their work email, Blind says that maintaining anonymity is integral to its mission.
“Anonymity is central to Blind. We don’t sell, share, or rent names, email, or personal information. We don’t keep this data in the first place, nor do we allow companies to censor posts or channels,” clarifies Chen.
How Blind usage has changed recently
Blind was founded eight years ago, but the company is experiencing increased activity as remote employees look to the internet while seeking guidance. The forum is most popular among individuals working in the growing sectors of tech, finance, and management consulting.
These fields have been afforded most of the remote perks and flexibility during the Great Resignation. Yet that doesn’t eliminate the need for workplace gossip, help in deciding about a job offer, and camaraderie as individuals discuss company policies.
Blind grew its user base by around 75% to 100% in the past year and a half, according to Chen. He connects the usage of Blind to eras of uncertainty for workers. It attracted employees during the start of COVID, then for those who left their companies during the Great Resignation, and now people who are returning to the office.
For instance, as workers were suspended during the pandemic they turned to Blind to talk about their experiences. “There was an incredible kind of surge in activity on Blind, and people were comparing how their leadership and companies were dealing with these layoffs,” says Chen.
The way that Blind users maneuvered the app also changed during the pandemic, according to Chen.
Before COVID, most activity on Blind was during the traditional commute hours, the assumption behind this being that people would scroll the Blind app on the way to work. But during the past couple of years, activity has increased, as the average user is on the site about an hour a day, with no set time frame: “nonstop, all hours of the day, all days of the week, even Saturdays and Sundays,” says Chen.
Users are now engaging with others more. Blind members are circling back with those who post questions or complaints to ask for updates on their career choices. Chen likens these interactions to a sort of peer pressure where users can’t simply go onto Blind to dump their anger, but rather are urged to follow up.
Who is the average Blind user
In a few words: ambitious, independent, and direct.
When describing the Blind community, Chen’s explains that users are set apart by their questions about how they should advance their careers.
While Blind does not collect data on age, Chen says that the content of posts leads him to think that most users are in the middle of their career, or more senior. He believes the bulk of these users are millennials or older, who often give advice to the younger Blind users, and clarifying what vague announcements CEOs make actually mean for employees.
Chen says that members are using the platform to interact with other users, often with younger workers asking advice of more senior ones. He notes that younger users’ questions tend to be more direct. Though the app in general is full of direct questions, questions about salary have transformed Blind’s own lingo: TC (standing for total compensation).
No matter the age or seniority, the commonality among Blind users is their desire for independence. “Folks in our community, what they’re really looking for is autonomy. They want to be able to pick and decide how they want to work, where they want to work, what they want to do,” explains Chen.
In that sense, Blind has been on the front lines of the battle over remote work in the U.S.
Apple employees recently took to Blind to discuss their intent to leave the company before returning to the office. And junior Goldman Sachs bankers went to Blind to share how they felt when the company announced its return-to-office mandate.
Blind’s own survey found that remote work is important to its users. In asking what a company could do to retain Blind users, the poll found that virtual work was the second priority for employees (after pay). And if they do want to go into the office, Blind users want to choose their schedule.
What’s next for Blind
And Blind is looking to appeal to the most recent generation of unsatisfied workers, the Gen Z employees.
Chen admits that the middle career and more senior individuals in the marketing team are seeking to engage with younger communities, and targeting those entering the workforce with questions such as, “What is it like to interview at a tech company or switch industries?” and “What’s the intern season like?”
But Blind’s 5 million users show up for each other in a crises, says Chen, as they try to navigate the new questions brought up by the pandemic.
“Would someone that works at a bank have much in common with someone that works at Google? Our initial thought was no, but there seems to be some kind of universal experiences and truths that transcend these boundaries that we prescribe to other people,” says Chen.
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