Last week at NJIT (Newark), a remarkable thing happened: at a kind of matchmaking event, experienced professionals without jobs who were looking to help young companies by volunteering were paired with startups that needed their expertise.
At this job fair, which took place May 16, 2012, all the startups were prescreened, as were the job applicants. Startups only interviewed candidates who met their criteria and job seekers only met with companies that had openings for those with their expertise.
An estimated 300 people were matched with some 76 small tech companies at the P2B NJIT event made available through grants from the N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development Talent Networks (advanced manufacturing, financial services, life sciences and technology and entrepreneurship.)
Prescreening was an involved, hands-on process, to ensure the skill sets offered by the volunteer workforce were what the young companies needed, Judith Sheft of NJIT said. The volunteers/job seekers were urged to submit their resumes several weeks before the actual event. In some cases, companies were told no one who met their needs had applied. In other cases, volunteer job seekers had to be told no company was a good match.
“NJIT’s entrepreneurs-in-residence have spent hours reviewing 400 applications and ferreted out 300 of the best matches” to meet the needs of our 76 participating companies, said Gale Spak, associate vice president of continuing and distance education at NJIT.
NJTechWeekly.com walked around the packed ballroom on the NJIT Campus Center’s top floor to hear what companies had to say about the event. We were amazed by the good will exhibited in the room. Often the small companies’ CEOs or founders themselves were recruiting, and we recognized many of them.
Kedar Phadke, CTO of paSafeShare.com (Colts Neck), a startup offering persistent, enterprise-class, cross-domain solutions for safely sharing intellectual property without compromising end-user experience, said he thought it was a great “opportunity to find qualified people within New Jersey.” Phadke was looking for programmers; the company currently uses several from overseas. He said although there are many great ones in N.J., they are often overqualified and want to be managers. “NJIT is a great place to find that talent,” he noted.
Speaking after the event, Phadke said he had just “interviewed eight candidates.” Besides looking for programmers at the gathering, the company focused on finding experienced marketing staffpeople. “We are planning to work with at least four, going forward. A majority were very good candidates with strong experience,” Phadke said.
Urbana International is an emergency-preparedness startup operating in the ACIN Waterfront Technology Center (Camden), president Felix James told NJTechWeekly.com. Its proprietary technology allows schools, municipalities, hospitals and other institutions to put emergency information online. Users can file site plans, data on where they store hazardous materials and information about contact people, including photos, so emergency personnel can recognize them on the spot. Additionally, police and fire departments can review these files before an emergency ever occurs to help solve the problem. Police can also connect to a building’s cameras right from their police cars.
“We are at this event looking for marketing people — some [in] direct marketing, but mostly Internet marketing, “ James said. “We need to build a website that can really explain what we do.” When we speak to people, they say they understand, but they really don’t.
[This article was updated 5/26/2012 to reflect corrections provided by NJIT.]