Mainer News Cooperative, publisher of the alt-monthly magazine Mainer, has launched Mainer Jobs, a jobs listing website exclusively for the state’s small, independently owned businesses and nonprofits. In addition to listings on mainerjobs.com, employers can have their job openings published in Mainer beginning in the November issue, which hits the streets Nov. 4.
Mainer Jobs was developed by Mainer News Cooperative member and reporter Nathan Bernard. The website was brought to life by Shannon Palme, of the Portland web-design company CIRQUA, who also recently redesigned Mainer’s website, mainernews.com.
Mainer Jobs is unique in several ways. It’s the first jobs-listing site in Maine exclusively for small indie businesses and nonprofit organizations. Companies posting positions on Mainer Jobs must have fewer than 1,000 employees and be wholly or majority owned by Maine residents. This policy excludes corporate chains and franchise operators, as well as exploitative gig-economy outfits like Uber or DoorDash.
Mainer Jobs is also a rare attempt by local media to take back a segment of the classified advertising market gobbled up two decades ago by online platforms like Craigslist, which initially offered free listings but now charge for the service. The loss of classified-ad revenue to cost-free online competitors has been a major driver of the decline of local journalism over the past two decades.
Before transforming into a worker-owned cooperative last spring, Mainer was The Bollard, a free monthly magazine and website founded by Mainer editor Chris Busby, with art directors Mich Ouellete and Sean Wilkinson, in 2005. In 2006, Busby became a founding board member of the Portland Independent Business and Community Alliance, the organization that launched the Portland Buy Local campaign that year.
The qualifications to post help-wanted ads on Mainer Jobs are similar to the guidelines for membership in Portland Buy Local — Mainers must own and have full decision-making authority over the enterprise. This second requirement weeds out locally owned franchises whose operators lack control over most aspects of the business.
Before Mainer Jobs, locals had few good options to publicize employment opportunities. More established websites like Craigslist and Indeed are cluttered with spammy posts for fly-by-night gigs and the perpetual help-wanted listings of faceless corporations. Those sites are also expensive compared to Mainer Jobs, which offers online listings for $15 a month, and they get even pricier for employers prompted to pay extra in hopes their job will stand out among the ever-growing list of positions offered by larger competitors.
Social-media behemoths like Facebook and LinkedIn are also used to promote job openings, and have similar disadvantages for mom-and-pop employers, whose listings easily get overlooked on those platforms. Furthermore, just like Craigslist or Indeed, the social media sites suck money out of our local economy. Mainer News Cooperative dedicates all its revenue to support the local reporters, photographers and graphic artists who produce its journalism.
Mainer reaches over 55,000 readers in print and online every month, and by its nature attracts good workers. To borrow the slogan of Casco Bay Weekly, the Portland alt-weekly from whose ashes The Bollard arose, Mainer’s readers “think for themselves;” they’re inquisitive, intelligent, active in their communities, and appreciate the social and economic importance of locally owned enterprises, which comprise the entirety of our print and online advertising.
For job seekers, Mainer Jobs provides listings they know they can trust. In addition to screening posts to meet size and ownership guidelines, Mainer Jobs does not publish listings by employers known to engage in harassment, discrimination or other unethical behavior.
These determinations are informed by over 20 years of watchdog journalism practiced by Mainer staff — The Bollard built its reputation in part by exposing bad actors in the local business community. Whether they got hired via Mainer Jobs or not, workers are encouraged to alert Mainer of employers who engage in unethical behavior or business practices. If we determine a worker’s complaint has merit, the lousy boss will be banned from using Mainer Jobs (and we just might write an article about it, too).
Ultimately, the goal of Mainer Jobs is the same goal we pursue with Mainer: making our state a better place to live. To us, that’s a place full of creative, one-of-a-kind enterprises, owned and operated by people of integrity, where workers are respected and, in turn, have pride and respect for their work. Mainer Jobs brings good local businesses and people together for the mutual benefit of all.