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Thesquare.com

An Ivy-only service that promises to match employers with the most qualified college students

By James R. Collins

They're all over dining hall tables. They cover the day-by-day bulletin board at the post office. The fact is, the average Yalie could not, even if he or she tried, avoid the numerous flyers announcing the presence of various corporate recruiters here on campus.

Back in the days before the Internet—before the world wide web—Yalies bound for the job market had at their disposal just a few ways of finding suitable employment. Through Yale's office of Undergraduate Career Services (UCS), Yalies could schedule on-campus interviews with recruiters from companies that chose to meet them here in New Haven. Some companies held recruiting events at local restaurants like XandO or Naples (hence the flyers in the dining halls). Some potential student employees made connections and networked with those in the business world at Yale-sponsored alumni events.

But finding the perfect job was sometimes difficult. Many firms did not make efforts to reach out—it was hard for potential student employees to get in touch with their potential employers. Sometimes the lack of communication was intentional: some firms wanted students to come to them. In other cases, the communication gap was simply a function of limited resources: firms could not spare the money or personnel to run an extensive recruiting campaign. But the entire process changed with the popularization of the Internet and the emergence of companies like JobTrak and Monster.com. These companies aim to be virtual job placement agencies: they're Internet start-ups which aim to link employers with potential employees. On web sites like Monster.com, employers post job openings and job-seekers post resumes; hopefully, the two parties meet somewhere in between, someone gaining a job and someone gaining a new employee. Some of the Internet job websites charge fees on a per-posting basis; others hope to make their profits through advertising. Yale, like most major colleges and universities with job placement services, has joined this Internet job search revolution.

A few years ago, UCS greatly increased Yalies' job placement options when it contracted with JobTrak, an Internet job search web site which connects employers with outbound college students from across North America. (Some colleges, like Columbia University, have bypassed third-party contractors like JobTrak and have instead chosen to compile their own Internet databases for students and alumni.) The use of the Internet increases both the number of job listings available to students and students' chances of being recruited by a larger number of firms. Now, students don't necessarily have to meet face-to-face with recruiters—much of the process can be completed over the Internet.

JobTrak claims that it networks the students of over 1,000 educational institutions with 450,000 employers. Rated the best service of its kind by Forbes Magazine, JobTrak offers these employers several ways to contact students, including general targeting (targeting all the colleges in its database), specific-college targeting, and web-based advertising. For these services, JobTrak charges different fees. Students (it claims 50,000 visit its web site daily) simply "join" JobTrak by configuring an account with personal information and a password. JobTrak doesn't confirm the personal information you provide it, however, and it isn't exclusive—employers will find Yale students' resumes alongside resumes of students from lesser-known colleges.

This is where another such Internet-based job placement site, TheSquare.com, hopes to step in. Although Yale does not have a contractual agreement with TheSquare.com as it does with JobTrak, TheSquare.com is more exclusive. And the company does (or at least claims to) verify the personal information students submit for listing in its database. TheSquare.com is, according to its web site, "the Internet's first community for students and alumni of select universities"—23 select universities, in fact. The service's list of "target schools" includes the Ivy League as well as such institutions as UC Berkeley, UVA, Williams, Northwestern, and Amherst. The Square says it bases its list of schools on national rankings such as those published by U.S. News and World Report, on alumni demographics, on academic reputation among recruiters, and on the popularity of the schools with its members.

The Square operates similarly to JobTrak—it charges employers various fees for the use of its database, while allowing students to search for free once they have provided personal information. Corporations know the value of top-tier university alumni, and companies like The Square hope to deliver them. In a October 9 article in The Industry Standard magazine, several corporate officials expressed interest in any means that could link them specifically with top-tier university graduates.

As Craig Silverman, Senior VP at recruiting firm Hall Kinion in San Francisco described, "You will get a hiring manager saying, 'We're very high on people that come out of [top tier universities].' It could be they've had success with people from those schools or their executives come from there."

This is not to say that corporations don't look at graduates from other colleges and universities; Ivy Leaguers just clearly have it easier at the outset.

TheSquare.com hopes to make this process even more direct, linking top tier university students—Yalies included—with the jobs they want, and employers with the student employees they want most—Yalies definitely among them.

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