Innovators at Work is a contest to recognize talented people who not only have great ideas but also turn them into reality through their drive and their actions.
The idea of rolling a corporate recruiting office and a student career fair into one website seems so simple, it’s a wonder Lauren Friese’s company isn’t surrounded by competitors.
But Toronto-based TalentEgg isn’t, at least not in Canada.
Ms. Friese got the idea for a job recruiting site aimed at recent university grads from her own self-searching experience.
As a graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston, she found herself in the same boat as many liberal arts graduates, adrift in the job market, looking for a career path. Yet when she later attended the London School of Economics, she found the environment in Britain very different, with employers continually tapping the pool of new grads there.
She saw an obvious need to transplant that career-training structure to Canada. “The idea for TalentEgg is that it’s a free, open resource to help young people to figure out what it is they want to do, how to learn about companies offering meaningful career-launching opportunities and to apply for jobs,” she said.
“Our goal in the TalentEgg office is to constantly increase the level and quality of information and resources available, so that students can make good decisions about what they do when they graduate and take some of that fear out of the school-to-work transition.”
Ms. Friese herself would make for a model interviewee. Her sentences are crisp and complete and, at 30, she has youth in her voice.
An online career fair is a good way to describe TalentEgg. Corporations and organizations that post jobs and talent searches on the site are the kind that generally already have internships and training programs in place.
You generally won’t find boutique firms, but instead larger companies, such as Sun Life Financial, agribusiness company Bunge, Royal Bank of Canada and Bell Canada, and it’s those kinds of companies that pay for the website.
“When I started TalentEgg at 24, I remember talking to people about how, finally, a high level of career advice and resources and access to job opportunities was available in a democratic, open and free way,” Ms. Friese said.
It was different for her. If a recruiter didn’t come to Queen’s, she would never have known that a certain type of job even existed, she said.
In addition to job listings and numerous articles and videos on the site giving advice on what recruiters are looking for in various industries, the site has a section of recruiting challenges. These are little tests for would-be employees to show some talent. Some of the challenges lead to internships, some just to a lunch meeting with a chief executive officer. But they are set up to provide job seekers with some extra contact and credentials with a company (and for companies to get some fresh business ideas from candidates).
The challenges are like online case studies, in which prospective employees are asked to come up with ideas or to sell themselves. One challenge through Purolator, for example, asked for ideas on how to improve the company’s social-media presence. Job seekers submitted everything from videos and 15-page presentations to essays and business plans.
“So, rather than submitting a résumé into the résumé black hole, they can participate in one of these challenges and actually get a credential that they can share with an employer, that proves to them that they can do marketing or analysis or whatever it is,” she said.
“Yes, it may give you some exposure to a company that may lead to a job. But the idea really, and our bigger plan with it, and why we’re so excited about it, is that we’re now giving students across the country the tools to overcome that ‘I can’t get a job without experience and I can’t get experience without a job’ paradox,” Ms. Friese added.