Our Story

SkillsFirst is the next generation of the OptimalResume Career & Talent Suite, award-winning online career tools used by more than 700 organizations and 3.5 million users since 2004. 

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SkillsFirst was first conceived 2014, when it became clear that too many qualified individuals were screened out by employer applicant tracking systems, and a shift toward skills-based hiring practices was necessary. In the rapidly changing technological landscape, job seekers needed new tools to communicate competencies to employers, better access to data to understand in-demand jobs and skills, and greater career support to make high-stakes career choices.

Our founder, Dave McNasby, envisioned a career management platform offering best-in-class career tools, high-quality labor market data, collaboration tools, and evidence-based career coaching to bolster career success outcomes. These ideas became SkillsFirst, and are at still at the center of our career platform today.

SkillsFirst launched in 2019 at the participant platform for R.I.S.E Up, a two-year, grant-funded pilot program to expand evidence-based career navigation in West Michigan. SkillsFirst helped pilot program participants earn $938,770 in increased annual wages, an average of $14,226 per participant.

In 2022, SkillsFirst released its first AI-augmented career tools, a resume builder and cover letter builder with AI for keyword optimization. With next-generation features for customers in higher education, workforce, human resources, and non-profits, SkillsFirst will officially replace the OptimalResume Career & Talent Suite in 2022.

Our Mission

To accelerate economic mobility through evidence-based career navigation.

Our Vision

To democratize access to high-quality career tools, information, and advice.

Our Team

Dave McNasby

Founder & CEO

Dragos Pintilie


Todd Lempicke

Corporate Advisor

Kathy Morris


Jim McNasby

Board Member

Shonna McNasby

Customer Success Manager

Marcin Grzegorzewski