It's one thing to start a recruiting firm that specializes in a certain field or marketplace. A young Alberta couple has taken the next logical step by launching a recruiting network that focuses on an age bracket: the often-mythologized Generation Y.
Emerson Csorba, a graduating University of Alberta political science student who's on his way to Cambridge, and Jessa Aco, who just graduated from the university's business school, set out to build an enterprise to connect volunteers with non-profit organizations. They soon realized that the interest level in ways to better access their generation's talent pool ran deeper. After connecting with an investor and conducting a series of 30-odd interviews with business people and prospective clients, they launched Gen Y Inc., a fledgling recruiting and consulting firm.
Ms. Aco says the business picks up where the university's own job-placement services leave off, especially for arts students who don't get a lot of institutional support.
"A lot of University of Alberta students in arts and science who are incredibly smart and talented can't find jobs because they don't know how," she explains. "Essentially what we're doing is privatizing how students get jobs."
The core of Gen Y's service is a "talent network" that they'd like to boost to around 1,000 members, but for now, just weeks after launch, it stands at about 150. The network serves as a dual-purpose recruiting pool and grapevine, a way of letting outsiders access roots that run deep into the student world.
"When a company comes to us, we tap into that network and say 'we're hiring for this position,' and ask, 'who are your peers who are looking for a job in this area?'" Mr. Csorba says. The recruiters then filter the responses, and rather than simply pass along resumes, they work up one-page "stories" about their candidates to pass along to prospective employers.
The network's initial members came from Ms. Aco and Mr. Csorba's personal connections – both high-fliers, she was active with the business students' association, he with the university's student government and newspapers. But the company is now taking and vetting applications from the broader student community. Mr. Csorba says that, as they search for the best and brightest candidates, reaching beyond the ranks of the traditionally well-connected is part of his firm's mandate.
"I've become skeptical of the significance of things like grades, the number of extracurricular activities in which one is involved, and even those Top 20 Under 20 accolades that are handed out to exceptional young people," he writes in an e-mail. "If we focus on only those people, we miss out on thousands of other capable students and young professionals who can – and in some cases will – do great things."
The network is also a talent base that the company will use for consulting gigs aimed at businesses looking for insight into millennial culture and working habits. Gen Y stands to gain from the mystique its namesake generation has accrued as a vaguely unknowable entity, especially in the press.
Weeks after launching, the firm has placed its first employees, and it is looking to expand beyond its Alberta base into other campuses. And as its founders move away from campus themselves, their plan is to hire "ambassadors" at schools who will keep their networks renewed, and give them the insight to move past the frequently undifferentiated stacks of student applications that recruiters face.
"Agencies have a pile of resumes," Ms. Aco says. "We do more than that."