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Taking a risk: Paul Wooderson

Mid-missouri entrepreneur aims for new website catering to unemployed
Sunday, November 6, 2011 | 4:41 p.m. CST; updated 7:12 p.m. CST, Sunday, November 6, 2011
Paul Wooderson has built a website to help the unemployed find work. "I've been laid off and I know what it's like," Wooderson said, "Helping people out of work is one of my passions." In a system similar to Angie's List, unemployed people create profiles on the website to market their skills. Customers hire them and then write reviews.

After losing a job for the third time, Paul Wooderson, 38, finally figured out what he wanted to do for a living.

Despite having years of experience working in health-care management and a master’s degree in health administration, Wooderson was laid off from positions as a clinic manager at a hospital in Texas, as a manager at a wheelchair company in Columbia and, lastly, as an administrator at a vein treatment center in Jefferson City in December 2010.

But an idea blossomed from his frustrations.

In the three months that lapsed before landing his current job as an insurance salesman with Aflac, Wooderson began developing his plan to create Networkplace, a website that helps unemployed people find temporary work. 

Through the site, job seekers would create online profiles, free of charge, that advertise their skills. People looking for workers to fill a short-term job pay an annual or quarterly membership to access the site and search for ideal candidates. Once a job seeker completes work — it could be anything such as doing yard work or designing a website — the person who hired them leaves an online review of the work they did. 

Thus, job seekers can build their feedback ratings to increase their chances of future short-term work, and they can display positive reviews to potential employers as evidence that they’ve been working despite being in between full-time jobs. 

Being unemployed is as emotionally draining as it is financially, Wooderson says. “It’s worse than anything you hear on TV,” he adds. “I get tired of hearing (politicians) talk about it, to be honest, and act like they’re gonna do something about it.” 

He hopes the site — which he'll launch by the end of the week — can help restore confidence for those who are searching for work. Any microloan money would go toward marketing and enhancing the website, he said.

“There’s not a whole lot between having a job and not having a job. There’s a gap right there,” he says. “This is intended to fill that.”

Next page | Brenda Fant, Ashland resident, hopes to open coffeehouse

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