Those media experts among us may be familiar with “Help A Reporter Out”, or HARO, which brings reporters and bloggers to quotable sources, and helps small businesses promote their brands. It’s an interesting, if not completely proven, model. Now, what if you apply that model to startups, and the startup hiring process? This was Tolu Babalola’s thinking when he created College2Startup, a resource for startups looking to find quality collegiate or postgraduate talent.
Startups are always looking for talent, and it’s not unusual to see established companies acqu-hire a startup just to get access its talent. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg is making a company out of it. But, that being said, it’s no easy feat to find talent that is the right fit for your startup, especially with all the white noise coming out of sites like CareerBuilder, Monster, and Craigslist.
In creating College2Startup, Babalola did some quick surveys of those currently employed at startups and found that nearly two-thirds of them were hired based on referrals by friends, former colleagues, etc. It would stand to reason, then, that it can be pretty difficult for undergraduates and recent graduates to find openings at startups if they don’t happen to know someone who’s already inside.
Thus, College2Startup allows prospective employees to subscribe to a daily newsletter (that Babalola curates) to receive job opportunities. College2Startup’s daily newsletter is opt-in and meant to target only those that have job-specific talent. When a prospective employee receives the newsletter, he or she can scroll through the list of job openings to find the opportunity that best suits them, and click to apply right from the newsletter. And, once a user has signed up, they can filter results from jobs listings as well.
Of course, the model may not sound particularly mind-blowing, as sites like Mediabistro (and many others) offer the ability to get tailored email alerts for the types of jobs you’re looking for, and you can apply straight from those emails. So, while opt-in and apply-straight-from-an-email are cool features, the founder says that what distinguishes College2Startup is in how it treats the application process. The questions that companies ask prospective employees on the big job sites tend to be generic, and they don’t do a great job of finding out what the applicant’s specific skills are.
Babalola said that he wants to get the interview process rolling right from the first application, which is why candidates are asked questions about their specific skill sets. Once the user has clicked the “apply to” link in the email, for example, they are taken to an application page in which Babalola has arranged a series of questions he knows startups will be eager to see the answers to, before calling the applicant in for the interview. If the job is for a backend developer at Groupon, for instance, candidates will be asked questions like, “What languages do you code in?”, or asked to talk about (and provide links to) sites they’ve built in the past, links to their GitHub profile, or even provide a video introduction.
Babalola said that he thinks sending the answers to these questions directly to startups can help streamline the process and get the ball rolling faster, so that startups have a relevant sneak-peek at prospectives before interviewing. It also helps limit the often labyrinthine application process inherent to larger sites.
But the big goal with College2Startups, the founder reiterated, is to target a younger crowd that is desperate to work at a startup but may not yet have connections or people to refer them. While this may sound silly or even alien to talent in Silicon Valley, outside of the Bay Area, things aren’t quite so easy. “When I graduated”, Babalola said, “I looked for startup jobs everywhere and really struggled to find for 6 months before a friend referred me to a friend who knew someone. The same is true in my local Baltimore startup meetups. There is a lot of promising talent that doesn’t know where to find startup jobs”.
While I’m all in favor of resources targeting startups specifically and young talent that might go undiscovered otherwise, a potential drawback to College2Startups is that it charges $100 to startups that want to post a job on the site. InternMatch, which we wrote about back in April, charges a similar fee, while Internship.com is free and Urban interns charges $40. Yes, College2Startup is targeting real jobs, and not internships, but startups aren’t always flush with cash — every penny counts.
Another somewhat comparable and cool service to check out is RescueTime Introductions, which is like a CarFax for job candidates, and also targets startups and the tech industry. (In fact, College2Startups may be more similar in conception to Jobby, which the RescueTime guys sold to Jobster in 2006.)
College2Startups is obviously still in the very early stages, though it has racked up over 3,200 subscribers in lead up to the first newsletter, which went out last week. Check it out, and let us know what you think.