Employers head to school

Seattle Internet career service startup expands to the Vancouver/Portland area

What can a recent college graduate who can’t find a job do? Start a company finding jobs for other recent college graduates. At least, that’s what Jason Granlund and Griffith Owen did. The two University of Washington graduates founded CampusPoint Corp. in Seattle in 2002 and expanded the company into the Vancouver/Portland area this year.

CampusPoint works to place candidates that are still in school or recently graduated in internships, temporary and part- and full-time positions with local companies.

"We are what happens when you combine elements of an on-campus career center, an employment agency and a dot-com job board," said Granlund.

When developing the company, Granlund and Owen realized most companies were not making an effort to employ recent graduates, and the companies actively recruiting at college campuses were always the same from one career fair to the next. The two knew there were companies out there that weren’t taking the time and expense to recruit employees that could benefit from hiring CampusPoint’s target audience.

"The cost associated with going after candidates on college campuses is often prohibitive," said Granlund. "It involves building individual relationships with schools and attending career fairs."

Granlund said CampusPoint gives employers access to a specific group of job seekers they otherwise do not have direct access to.

Recent college graduates are willing to work for the least amount of money, have advanced technical skills and, in many cases, have professional experience, said Granlund.

CampusPoint has developed several products to serve its clients’ needs. Job seekers pay nothing; revenue is generated by fees paid by employers. Companies can utilize CampusPoint’s Job Board for less than $100 and make open positions available to thousands of registered users. Clients can choose a more interactive approach with position listing fees beginning at less than $300 and placement fees starting at $1000. Traditionally, staffing firms charge a percentage of the employee’s starting annual salary, ranging from 10 to 30 percent. A new hire making $30,000 could cost a company $3,000 to $9,000. CampusPoint assigns an account manager to work with each employer and then screens and interviews candidates.

The company’s TempTern service has proven to be its most successful. The service combines the elements of a temp agency with that of an internship program. It provides companies with temporary qualified workers and candidates with experience and a wage. CampusPoint again has created a unique fee-based system. Clients pay the cost of employing the candidate plus $3 to $4 above cost. Most temp agencies typically charge a percentage of the wage paid. Additionally, CampusPoint does not charge a conversion fee for temporary employees brought on full-time, which, said Granlund, has contributed to the number of temporary hires that have transitioned into permanent jobs – 90 percent.

Additionally, CampusPoint maintains a directory of local companies, which includes information such as hiring history, work hours and employee benefits.

CampusPoint focuses mainly on small and mid-sized business, who are least likely to have recruiters visiting college campuses, said Granlund.

"Those are the kinds of employers we are trying to open up to our candidate pool, and, conversely, give our candidates access to those kinds of employers, which can be great for them," he said.

CampusPoint works on hiring for between 50 and 60 positions at any given time in the Vancouver/Portland area. Since entering the market in March, the company has registered 2,500 candidates, posted information on 500 employers and filled more than 100 positions.

The Vancouver office of Friedman Corp. is one of CampusPoint’s early local clients. The Deerfield, Ill.-based developer of software used in manufacturing employs nine people at its Vancouver dealer solutions division. Friedman Product Manager Alan Russell said the company has utilized employment and temp service agencies in the past. Russell was introduced to CampusPoint and decided to give it a try, as he was having difficulty finding a qualified candidate through other services. Friedman hired one CampusPoint candidate and is working on bringing on another.

"So far the results have been good," said Russell. "The response has been quick, and (CampusPoint) has provided me a steady list of candidates to choose from."

The company does not partner directly with colleges and universities but aims to attract students from area schools, including Clark College and Washington State University Vancouver.

"They know that the employers we primarily reach out to are ones that are not on their campuses," said Granlund. "And we are able to bring more and different opportunities to their students and graduates."

CampusPoint hires "student ambassadors" to help spread the word.

Given its proximity to Seattle and that Owens was raised in Portland and attended Oregon State University, the area presented the best opportunity for expansion. The company occupies a 3,300-square-foot office in Portland where it has five employees. Overall, the company has 17 employees. CampusPoint became profitable after a little more than a year, and Granlund projects the company will have revenue of more than $5 million this year, double the previous year. And by early 2007 the company expects to be in three new markets, likely in the Midwest.

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