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Millennials turn to dating apps for something more than romance – a new job

They are less hedonistic than their parents’ generation – more likely to be tee-total and less likely to engage in casual sex. 

Now millennials are using dating apps, once synonymous with short-lived flings, to boost their increasingly freelance careers. 

With a growing number of young people are using the online apps for professional networking or promoting their own businesses, companies have caught on to the trend. 

Bumble has launched a business spin off while the team behind Tinder have created professional network Ripple. 

Mixer – a private networking app to connect freelancers working in film, music, art and fashion – has also enjoyed growing success since it began in 2015. 

Figures released this week show Bumble now has 36 million registered users. 

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After launching Bumble Bizz in October, the app now has 17 million new matches a week and 64,000 new users are joining each day. 

Louise Troen, Bumble’s vice president of marketing, says the idea came about when executives noticed people were using their profiles to network with others. 

"We noticed that our users were ‘hacking’ [the app] to connect in business," she said. "So they were saying ‘Hi, I’m Sophie, I’m from Surrey, I’m looking for a part-time producer to help me on this documentary I’m doing’. Someone would swipe on her and say ‘hey I’m actually a producer, I’m a freelancer, let’s get together’. They were forming these friendships that were also business relationships." 

Perhaps such prudent behaviour is to be expected from Generation Y. After all, a study by UCL earlier this year found millennials are waiting longer to have sex, with one in eight still a virgin at 26, while more than a quarter of 16-to-24-year-olds say they do not drink alcohol, according to the Office for National Statistics. 

Millennials are also likely to work harder for less money, with researchers from the Resolution Foundation finding that the post-financial crisis pay squeeze has disproportionately affected younger workers. 

Stephanie Reynders, a former professional snowboarder, launching a sportswear collection and says she spends around 30 to 60 minutes a day looking to connect with people. 

"I’ve been on the app for two years now and kind of grew with it, from dating to Bizz." 

Ms Reynders said she had "met a couple of very interesting people" through the app who have become regular business advisers for her start-up. The trio have formed a close friendship and regularly meet for dinner to discuss how to boost her brand. 

"They have helped me with brainstorming about things like the product launches, which bloggers to contact, and what kind of products to design next. Most of all they have just become great friends. This way you create long term relationships with people who support and help you," she said. 

More traditional professional networks often largely fall short of the needs of self-employed youngsters or those in creative industries. 

According to market research firm Statista, 77 percent of LinkedIn users are 30 years or older, and are typically looking to recruit from large firms. 

The crossover between those using platforms for romance and for climbing the career ladder is clear. Bumble’s dating platform is mostly populated by 25 to 32-year-olds with a gender split of 55 per cent women and 45 per cent men, while those on the business platform typically range in age from 26 to 32.

Ms Troen says the platforms dating apps offer are significantly different to more traditional sites and they have seen a steady growth.

"The whole notion of networking has changed dramatically," she said. "In the past doing business was very formal, it was a very corporate notion. I think in the last ten years with the rise of millennials, the rise of entrepreneurs and opportunity has meant that lots of people are starting their own businesses…there wasn’t an environment where they could do so.

"A lot of freelancers use it, especially in the creative industry because of the immediacy of it. If your photographer pulls out of a big shoot, you can go on straight away and find a photographer. It’s not about uploading a super-hectic CV and waiting, it’s about constant connecting and growing your network on a day-to-day basis."

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