For years, LinkedIn has been the go-to job searching and social media platform for the professional that can often lead to new opportunities. I can attest to that. It’s worked for me.

It’s not the best site for everyone, though. Websites catering to sectors not well-represented on LinkedIn have been cropping up, offering new places for members to share ideas and professional opportunities. And employers are seeing the benefits of niche sites catering to their needs for specific backgrounds or work experience. These platforms are well-positioned for growth now that the pandemic is easing and the economy is warming up.

Some of the niche alternatives to LinkedIn are designed to appeal to artists and other creatives, whose networks may not necessarily overlap broadly with other professions. One new site targets high school students, getting in on the ground floor as members of a younger generation enter the early stages of building careers for themselves. 

Tallo, which started up as a small startup in two South Carolina high schools, now has almost 1.5 million users across the U.S. The free platform was primarily designed for high school students through early-career professionals, and showcases their work and passions for various employment paths.

At least 27,000 high schools and 4,000 colleges are now represented on the platform. It has $11.6 million in funding, according to Crunchbase.

“We really wanted to level the playing field and help connect talent earlier on with colleges, companies, etc.,” Casey Welch, CEO of Tallo, told us, adding that the platform is intended for people who have limited professional experience.

“They're [our users] not sure where they wanna go yet. They're not looking to necessarily just build a network with other professionals, they're trying to figure out what their journey is,” Welch says. 

A similar new entrant is Goodwall, which also focuses on students and early-career professionals. As of last year, it boasted 1.5 million members. According to Thinknum Data, the company has $3.3 million in funding.

With the rise of streaming services over the past year, specialty career sites for people in the entertainment business have also gotten a lift. Stage32, for instance, has become a go-to platform for opportunities in film, theater and the television business.  According to Forbes, users get the benefit of a ‘direct line’ to some of the biggest names dominating the streaming landscape in particular including Peacock, Amazon, and Netflix. 

Founded about a decade ago, it now boasts about 750,000 users.

Ambitious projections by entertainment firms suggest that opportunities will continue to grow in the space, making Stage32 a hotspot for the foreseeable future. Disney has said it expects its Disney+ services will grow to 260 million subscribers by 2024, up from 10 million it started with in November 2019.

Competitor services ViacomCBS’s Paramount+ hopes to have up to 75 million subscribers by 2024, and is investing $5 billion in streaming content to make that happen. Meanwhile, NBCUniversal’s Peacock now has about 42 million subscribers.

Elsewhere in the creative realm, designers, photographers and other industry professionals can seek out specialized opportunities on niche job site Creatively. Launched last year during the pandemic, the platform allows artists to showcase their portfolios to would-be employers in a user-friendly fashion.

Also nipping at LinkedIn’s heels are new apps designed for professional networking. Two in particular that have blossomed in recent years are Shapr and Bumble Bizz, which dominate the space and operate with interfaces reminiscent of dating apps.

In fact, Bumble Bizz is offered through the same platform as the Bumble dating app. Switching to Bizz mode allows users to show off their professional experiences and goals to potential employers.

Although Shapr is not tied to a dating app, it has similar types of features, such as “swiping” to make connections with likeminded professionals. 

Numbers point to increased job activity across the board, possibly fueling activity on all of these sites and apps. Last week, first-time jobless claims in the U.S. dipped to 473,0000, better than the anticipated 490,000. Total job openings have surged to over 8 million.

LinkedIn still remains a behemoth for job-hunting professionals, with 756 million members. Yet options may increasingly diversify as lockdowns come to an end, workers return to offices and employers do more hiring.

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