Warning: Unpaid Internships May Mean You’re Missing the Top Talent



As the lawsuits against unpaid internships pile up, it’s becoming even more necessary to innovate the way we look for talent. It’s almost impossible to compete with the Googles and Facebooks of the world when you’re a startup. Often the best you can offer is pizza and some equity.

But there are some companies out there getting creative with how they find new employees.

Hacking Your Way to a Job

A couple of weeks ago, we reported on GlobalHack, the quarterly hackathon held in St. Louis.

At GlobalHack 1, teams competed to develop an algorithm for TopOPPS, a new startup by Jim Eberlin. The winning team was awarded $50,000 in exchange for the work they did, and Eberlin was so impressed with the second place team, he threw in an extra $10,000 for them.

rsz_incontentad2But, he didn’t stop there.

After the event, Eberlin invited 18 of the engineers who competed to a private dinner, at which he held impromptu formal interviews. Five of those engineers now work full time for TopOPPS, and more hires are in the works.

“I call it Interviewing 3.0,” Eberlin said. “I spoke to each of them for about 10 minutes and narrowed our talent search down to the people who would make the best fit for TopOPPS.”

Beside the engineers Eberlin discovered at the hackathon, the press from the event has brought TopOPPS attention from developers all over the country, and many have applied separately to work for the company.

“Recruits” Provide Cheap Labor in Exchange for Job Opps

Another take on the recruitment front comes from Gawker media, the parent company of the infamous Valleywag.

It’s well known that paying writers a full time wage with the current economics of digital media is difficult. If The Atlantic can’t afford it, newer media outlets certainly can’t.

Gawker’s solution comes in the form of their new Recruits program. In the program, a writer is granted a short term contract, a small stipend, and their own blog. Each writer is judged on their amount of traffic they bring in, with the potential for a full time gig at Gawker.

I’m no fan of Gawker, and of course the Recruits program undoubtedly has something to do with a lawsuit from several unpaid interns. But considering the economics of online media, it isn’t a bad idea. It’s essentially a more formalized system of freelancing, which is what keeps most media sites in content.

The Future of Hiring

Of course, hiring isn’t the only reason to have unpaid internships, but it is common to bring interns into a full time job if they do great work.

However, shift is happening in the way we identify and recruit top talent. Much like the need for a college degree, unpaid internships are slowly losing popularity.

Companies–especially startups–would do well to look to TopOPPS and Gawker for inspiration on ways to innovate the talent search.

Recruiting for Success: Tapping into Your Local University

DTA,REDI,Mike Brooks,Startup Tips, recruitingPeople sometimes assume that a startup needs to be based in a large city or Silicon Valley to succeed. While both these locations might offer certain advantages to a new business, college towns can offer just as many incentives. The presence of colleges or universities in your locale can reduce your costs and allow you to form lasting and rewarding relationships with those institutions. Perhaps the most rewarding and beneficial aspect of running your startup out of a college town is the chance to hire willing, intelligent, and dedicated students. The opportunities and experiences found in smaller college towns can provide your startup with the resources you need to succeed.


Considering the Cost


Consider how expensive it would be to start and run a business in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New York City. The cost of starting a business in a smaller college town can be significantly less than in a metropolitan area. Workspaces can be rented at a lower cost, and starting wages for employees, coupled with the lower cost of living, can greatly benefit your bottom line during your formative years.


Funds saved can be used for more important startup endeavors, such as marketing, attending conferences, or improving products. And while it might seem that there will be fewer opportunities to meet and interact with mentors and advisors, you might be one of a handful of young companies innovating in a specific area. You’ll have ready access to university professors who have worked in the corporate world and can provide invaluable insight into a particular industry.


Creativity and Innovation


Each new school year in a college town is beneficial for startups for many reasons. One of the most basic opportunities in a college town is the influx of new students every fall. Fresh faces and eager learners bring new skillsets and experiences.


Many students seek part-time employment to help support themselves or pay for tuition. Your business then has an affordable and available built-in workforce. Recruiting entrepreneurial-minded students will help you develop a driven staff, and being near a university that offers degree programs in business, advertising, design, and information technology will provide you with the opportunity to recruit some of the top students and young entrepreneurs in the country.


These employees can also help make your startup visible on campus with their ties to other organizations or clubs. They will usually know what’s popular with — and meaningful to — their peers and the school as a whole. With this knowledge, they can help propel your company forward by talking to others about it or promoting your products. Relaying your company’s message to different groups of consumers or potential clients is always a good thing.




Internship Opportunities


Many students will seek internships to enhance their professional and classroom experiences. Several majors may even require internships with local organizations to graduate. This is a great way for your startup to gain the insight and assistance of a dedicated employee without incurring any cost.


You also have your next potential full-time employee in an intern who already knows your company and its operating procedures. Finding interns can require a more focused effort than simply hiring part-time employees, but the long-term payoff can be well worth it. Through these opportunities, your company might be able to become an educational partner with a university’s internship program.


Practical Partnerships


The invaluable educational partnership opportunities form another great aspect of running your startup in a college town. These partnerships are a way to gain new resources and provide an educational opportunity in return. Your business can gain access to costly university equipment or programs that you wouldn’t have otherwise. This gives you the chance to foster a learning environment for students working with your company as well.


A great example in my own college town is Newsy. Its founder, Jim Spencer, was the vice president of content and answers at Ask Jeeves. When he decided to make the leap into the entrepreneurial world, he relocated to Columbia, Mo. By collaborating and partnering with the University of Missouri’s Journalism School, he was able to recruit top talent for his video-based news startup. In exchange, Newsy staff teaches courses, furthering the students’ education in evolving media, and it provides young journalists with access to a digital news facility. Various different economic development and investor organizations worked together in order to help Newsy make Columbia its home.


Many colleges or departments also require students to have a capstone experience during their senior year. Offering your company as a case study or viable research option can again provide students with an enriching educational experience. Specific courses might even ask you to present your journey and experience as an entrepreneur to students. This opportunity can give you a chance to reflect on the skills and determination that led to your success, providing you a platform to market your business.


University towns commonly have an ample supply of resources, talent, and enthusiasm for innovation and success. By partnering with a local university, you can take advantage of internship and part-time student employment possibilities, university equipment and forums, and a consistent foundation for networking and marketing. While all of these factors benefit your business goals, the true reward is guiding and educating future entrepreneurs and leaders.


Mike Brooks is President of REDI (Regional Economic Development, Inc.) in Columbia, Mo. REDI promotes positive economic expansion and provides increased economic opportunities in the Columbia area, assisting entrepreneurs, developing businesses, and companies relocating. As president, Mike led REDI in creating a supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurship and business growth in Columbia. Mike welcomes anyone to reach out to him on LinkedIn or REDI at columbiaredi.com.

Move Your Resume To The Front Of The Line With Chicago Startup hiredMyway.com

A new startup in Chicago called hiredMyway may have just solved a huge problem for job-seekers and that’s getting their resume actually reviewed and reviewed quicker. There is a cost involved, but when it’s all laid out for the job seeker the nominal $5 fee is worth so much more in the end.

Matt Mosher the CEO and Founder of hiredMYway.com is offering a different kind of job site. With hiredMYway, when an interested job seeker finds a position they feel they are qualified for or “perfect” for they can submit their resume for free, or they can elect to pay the $5 fee which guarantees their resume will be reviewed in the first 15 days. In fact hiredMYway will notify the job seeker when their resume is actually read.

Now we realize that job seekers don’t have a bunch of $5 bills just laying around, especially if they are out of work while on the job hunt. That’s actually the beauty of Mosher’s system though. Job seekers will only pay the $5.00 for jobs they feel they are really qualified for and actually want.

The current job hunting website system is broken. Typically when a job is posted to one of the current job sites, thousands of people submit their resume, whether they are qualified or not. Some even submit their resume when they don’t even want that particular job, they just want “something”.

Recruiters, hiring agencies and HR departments that sign up with hiredMYway will know that when someone is submitting their resume along with the $5.00 payment, they have a truly interested candidate. It will effectively move those candidates to the top of the pile.

“You’re not going to pull your credit card out if you don’t think you’re going to have a chance,” Mosher said in an interview with redeyechicago.

Now here’s where it gets better.

There’s a signing bonus structure within the recruiters, hiring agencies and HR Departments. According to this article from redeyechicago that signing bonus could potentially be as big as $4,000 if not more. As with any job site or hiring agency a fee changes hands from the employer to the “agency”. hiredMYway splits that fee with 2/3 going to hiredMYway and the other third going back to the job seeker who gets the job.

With that 1/3 of the “finders” fee back in the pocket of the job seeker they most likely will make all their money back, regardless of how many jobs they paid the $5.00 “token” fee for.

Mosher is in the process of moving the funded startup from Detroit to Chicago. They currently employ 24 people and plan to hire more.  They’ve secured $3.5m in their first round of funding from VC’s and angel investors.

While the $5.00 payment may be a turn off to some, if you live in a world where you believe you get what you pay for you may actually see the real value in redeyechicago. Some job sites charge extra for premium listings for job candidates. With hiredMyway your $5.00 goes directly to getting your resume seen.


Check out hiredMYway here at hiredMYway.com

Source: redeyechicago

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Indian Startup: iLiftoff Provides Easy To Use Testing Platform For Recruiters INTERVIEW VIDEO

Indian startup iLiftoff is an easy to use testing platform for recruiters. iLiftoff has it’s own database of test questions for many fields and industries. Their knowledge base of questions covers everything from financial positions to coding. Recruiters can even add their own questions.

HR recruiters will use iLiftoff for pre-employment screening.

iLiftoff has released their platform with tests covering four sectors; programming, finance, law and logic.iLiftoff than breaks those four sectors down to more refined industries like banking and insurance which would fall under the finance category.

iLiftoff also offers companies the ability to create their own tests. These tests can be for recruitment, advancement or to assess training initiatives.

They’ve taken this approach to testing one step further by creating a platform that will work on PC’s and Mac desktops and laptops and also on both Android and iOS tablets.This means that tests can be administered in the field on a wide variety of topics.

While it’s not a glamorous industry, iLiftoff does seem to be addressing a need for both good testing platforms and for companies to easily make up their own tests without having to outsource or take months for a project test.

Check out our video interview with co-founder Raghav Aggarwal below:


Check out iLiftoff here at their website

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