Everyone seems to think they have the idea for the next great niche social network. Few, however, have the power to get their users paid. Entry-level job and internship focused career network AfterCollege aims to do just that by bridging the gap left by LinkedIn, Monster.com and others in servicing the inexperienced workforce.
Originally built as a job listing site in the vein of Monster or CareerBuilder, today 12-year-old AfterCollege launched the world’s largest online career networking destination for college students and recent graduates. The free platform allows job seekers to create profiles in a matter of minutes and offers a patented job-matching algorithm as well as built-in tools like a resume and cover letter builder.
The problem, according to AfterCollege co-founder and CEO Roberto Angulo is that recent grads don’t have the existing professional networks to make use of LinkedIn or other career networks. What they do have is a network of faculty and alumni working in industry that know the strengths and characteristics of their respective academic departments and are more apt to hire from within.
“It’s a classic Catch-22,” says Angulo. “Without a job, it’s almost impossible to make professional connections, but without professional connections, it’s harder to find a job. AfterCollege solves this paradox by instantly and automatically building networks that students and recent grads often don’t realize they already have — with faculty, administrators and alumni who can recommend them for entry-level jobs and internships.”
Unlike these existing professional networks and job listing platforms which combine users of all skill sets and experiences, AfterCollege succeeds by giving students and alumni as well as employers a place to interact around the shared intent of filling entry-level positions. AfterCollege works directly with employers and with colleges and universities to match open positions with specific schools, departments, and areas of study.
Students can create profiles using Facebook connect which automatically populates information on school, major, and any work experience. Job seekers can also upload an existing resume from which the service will further populate their profile. For the majority who don’t already have a resume constructed, AfterCollege now offers a resume generator based on information added to a user’s profile on the platform.
“Creating a polished, professional image — both on paper and online — is vital to nailing your first opportunity and standing out from the crowd,” says the company’s chief executive.
Angulo assures me that there are a number of different resume formats available to avoid the awkwardness of dozens of applicants submitting the same resume to the same employer.
The automatic cover letter generator, on the other hand, is a bit less defensible in my mind. Yes it is a service that AfterCollege’s users likely need, but those unwilling or unable to craft a personal cover letter likely shouldn’t be attending the best universities or being considered for the best jobs.
Students can use AfterCollege to ask faculty and even past employers for recommendations. Critically, those submitting recommendations don’t need to have profiles on the career network, but can simply click on a one-time use email link and post directly to a user’s account.
More than three million job seekers used AfterCollege last year to search for that elusive first job. At any given time, the network lists 200,000 entry-level jobs and internships. The company believes it is the free platform is the fastest growing job-search network of college students and alumni and has connected users within 16,000 academic departments at 2,300 colleges and universities with half a million entry level jobs at more than 20,000 top employers in the US.
AfterCollege is weighted toward the top 100 colleges and universities admits Angulo, but the company branching outward and is even starting to work with community colleges and two year programs — who the CEO says typically have more work experience.
The career network operates on a paid listing and advertising model, similar to most other sites in the industry. Employers pay to post jobs and send emails, while prospective job applicants can browse for free.
AfterCollege was founded in late 1999 while Angulo was at Stanford and raised limited angel funding in 2000 which it spent to achieve profitability by 2001. The company operated without further outside financing until late 2011 when it raised an undisclosed Series A round from Flywheel Ventures to accelerate growth. According to Angulo, the company has not spent much of the funds to date.
Pressure and competition to find that first after-college job can be intense. AfterCollege succeeds where others fall short by empowering those with limited experience to connect with their academic networks and affiliate resources that can help them stand out in a crowded and highly competitive sea of applicants.