Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Reference Hive is breaking down employment barriers with online profiles

Bennie Brimage used IT experience to create a platform that helps folks from workforce development and reentry programs build a presence to get hired. "We want to level the playing field," he said.

Bennie Brimage is the founder of Reference Hive.

(Courtesy photo)

You probably used the internet to get your current job.

It’s the reality of an increasingly digital economy: Not only do the tools to get work done sit on computing devices, but so, too, does the application and hiring process to secure that work. So it’s not a leap to conclude that an online presence is inextricably linked with one’s employment.

Over a 20-year career in IT, Bennie Brimage saw this firsthand.

“If you post a resume out there, you’ll get calls, you’ll get emails, but you’ve got to have a presence,” Brimage said.

While he built skills working with others in customer support and training over the years, he also developed a passion for helping those on the other side of economic divides. After diving deep on the issues underlying unemployment, he also saw how such a presence can be a gap for folks coming out of workforce development programs, reentry programs, transitional shelters and programs for abused victims. It wasn’t automatic to use the internet to look for jobs. As a result, many didn’t have a resume posted, or social media profile available.

So he decided to put his skills to use to provide a place to create one. It’s called Reference Hive. Founded in 2019, the Owings Mills-based organization offers a web platform that allows individuals to create an online profile, and job postings from organizations and recruiters that allow them to post and submit materials. It’s designed as an onramp to the job search process.

“The more you post out there, the more you get a response,” Brimage said.

There’s also a social component, as friends, family and coworkers can leave references. That way, Brimage said, their personal networks can speak for them.

“We want to level the playing field for folks who don’t have those prestigious background to post on LinkedIn,” he said.

Reference Hive has worked directly with organizations like Baltimore’s Center for Urban Families to provide a resource for the folks they are serving. Along the way, it has built with support from the Warnock Foundation’s social innovation cohort programming supporting social entrepreneurs.

“We just want to make a difference,” Brimage said. “For someone to have a job, it really changes their life.”

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